The Government should be required to set and publish child poverty reduction targets and report on them every one to three years, says Children's Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft.

Speaking on The Nation today, Becroft said he has also recommended to the new Government that it indexes benefits to average wages or inflation for any household, including children.

That is the single most useful thing the Government could do to help the poorest children in the country, he said.

A new report out this week showed that growth in child poverty had stalled and the numbers were improving in key areas, though thousands of children continued to face various levels of hardship.


The Child Poverty Monitor 2017 showed 10,000 children had been helped out of severe poverty since the 2016 report, but more than 400,000 were facing various levels of hardship, some going without basic necessities, such as good shoes, clothes, food and visits to the doctor and dentist.

The report showed 7 per cent, 80,000 Kiwi children, were said to be in severe poverty, facing material hardship and living in a low-income household - but this was 10,000 less (down 1 per cent) on the previous year.

Meanwhile 290,000 children were living in homes where money was tight, down 5000 (1 per cent) on the previous year.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had pledged in the election campaign to end child poverty and took on the role of Minister for Child Poverty Reduction once in government.

Ardern welcomed the improved numbers but said there were still thousands of children going without and she was prepared to be held to account for improving their lot.

"The Families Package, and my Child Poverty Reduction Bill, will have a significant impact on families who are struggling to pay for the basics for their children and will ensure the public can track our progress," she said.

Ardern said details of the package, aimed at those most in need of support, would be announced next week.

It is early days, Becroft said, but hoped to see draft legislation as part of the new Government's 100-day package.


Becroft said he has also discussed a universal basic income with the Government, as well as giving money collected in child support directly to the parent looking after the children.

Asked about the Government's commitment to seriously addressing child poverty, Becroft said: "What we have seen on the whiteboard looks encouraging, but this government, like any government has to walk the talk. And that is what we are waiting to see."