Nearly $8 million in funding is being allocated to establish a new Child Poverty Unit, dedicated to reducing child poverty, it has been announced in this year's Budget.

Another new unit, the Child Wellbeing Unit, will be funded by Oranga Tamariki which will be provided with $269.9m over the next four years to expand its services.

And Statistics New Zealand will receive an extra $25.7m in operating funding over the next four years, which the department says will help improve data collection so Kiwis can see "a clearer picture of child poverty".

The establishment of the two will "make historic progress in reducing child poverty in New Zealand", Prime Minister and Minister for Child Poverty Reduction Jacinda Ardern said.

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"In a country as wealthy as ours we have the opportunity and the obligation to ensure children are free from the burden of poverty.

"That's why we are embarking on a bold plan to reduce poverty and material hardship rates for Kiwi children to historic lows."

The Child Poverty Unit will advise government on policies affecting poverty among children and co-ordinate the Government's work to reduce poverty and material hardship throughout New Zealand.

The Child Wellbeing Unit has been tasked with developing the government strategy to improve the wellbeing of all children in New Zealand.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her Government was committed to ending child poverty in New Zealand.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her Government was committed to ending child poverty in New Zealand.

Part of this unit's work will be leading public consultation later this year on policy priorities for the strategy.

"My Child Poverty Reduction Bill requires governments to set their own unique targets to reduce child poverty and hardship rates over a 10-year period," Ardern said.

It also required the Government to develop a comprehensive strategy to promote the wellbeing of all children and report on disparities in education, health and other outcomes for children in poverty and at socioeconomic disadvantage.

Budget 2018 includes $7.9m of operating funding over four years to establish the Child Poverty Unit. The Wellbeing Unit will be funded by Oranga Tamariki.

An extra $25.7m for Statistics New Zealand over the next four years would improve information collected about Kiwi families, the Government said.

It would give the department enough money to increase the Household Economic Survey (HES) sample size from between 3500 and 5000 households to 20,000 households.

"We need to know the accurate baseline rates of poverty and collect the best possible data, both to make the right decisions and to track our progress in improving children's lives," Statistics Minister and Green Party co-leader James Shaw said.

"The next HES will collect data from a much greater number of households.

"That will improve the accuracy of current measures of poverty and allow regional and ethnic breakdowns."

Government statistician Liz MacPherson said better data analysis would help with government efforts to reduce child poverty.

"Stats NZ will have improved data at a regional level. We will also have data about Māori and other groups, which will enable better support for families.

"This data will help agencies, the government of the day, and the public to understand whether policies are helping to reduce the number of children in poverty."

Minister for Children, NZ First's Tracey Martin, said the funding allocations showed a commitment to Kiwi kids.

Minister for Children Tracey Martin said the Budget showed a commitment to Kiwi Kids.
Minister for Children Tracey Martin said the Budget showed a commitment to Kiwi Kids.

"Oranga Tamariki–Ministry for Children was established last year and some of its funding was time-limited. There are a number of areas with current funding pressures or where extra money is required to expand what it does.

"This Budget provides Oranga Tamariki $269.9 million over the next four years to expand its services.

"This includes Oranga Tamariki receiving $141.6 million over the next four years so more children and young people receive the care they need."

The extra funding would provide for additional care placements, allow for pay increases for social workers and upgrade tools such as IT systems that help social workers do their jobs, Martin said.

Funding has also been provided to make changes allowing 17-year-olds to be included in the youth justice system, and money for a one-year trial to improve the Family Group Conference process for tamariki Māori.