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Section 70A and Children

Research to find out how children might be affected by Section 70A reductions.

Published on
10 May 2019
Category
General
Research
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Research Brief: Section 70A and Children

In October 2017, the incoming Government said that it intended to remove the section 70A benefit reductions that apply when a sole parent supported by benefit does not seek child support. This research brief aimed to support future policy development by addressing the following questions:

  • How are children affected by section 70A reductions?
  • How might removal of section 70A reductions impact on children affected by reductions?
  • How else could claims for child support be encouraged?

This work was one of two papers cooperatively developed with the Ministry of Social Development. The partner paper is, How do welfare and tax settings affect children's involvement with child protective services.

Background

In the New Zealand welfare benefit system, the benefit received by a sole parent is reduced for each dependent child for whom they do not seek child support, subject to some exemptions.

The benefit is reduced by between $22 and $28 per week for each such child.

At the end of June 2018, the benefit deductions affected an estimated 2.3 per cent of all children in New Zealand. The proportion of New Zealand children who were ever in families affected was much larger. An estimated 11 per cent of all children were in a family affected by section 70A benefit reductions at some time by age six. Children already at high risk of persistent poverty and adverse childhood experiences are disproportionately affected.

Key findings

At the end of June 2018, 25,500 children were in families affected by section 70A reductions (9,500 of these children – one-third – were not themselves the subject of a deduction).

The 25,500 children who were in families affected at this date make up an estimated 2.3 per cent of all children in New Zealand.

The proportion of New Zealand children who were ever in families affected is much larger. Among children born in 2010-2011, an estimated 11 per cent of all children ever present in New Zealand by age six were in a family affected by section 70A benefit reductions at some time.

One-quarter of the children ever affected by reductions were affected for three or more of their first six years.

The proportion affected at any given month-end was highest in early childhood.

Section 70A benefit reductions disproportionately affect children already at high risk of persistent poverty and adverse childhood experiences.

Children in families affected were more likely to come to the attention of the care and protection system.

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