Child poverty is dwindling?

By   /   February 12, 2015  /   116 Comments

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My observation is that the Salvation Army can’t have it both ways. To say that getting children out of benefit dependent families is welcome news buys into the ideological view that welfare is always bad, paid work is always good.

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I have been wondering for a long time where the annual MSD’s statistical report is hiding. It appears, without anyone being informed, that the 2012 statistical report was the last one. The MSD seem to consider that their benefit facts sheets are enough. Consequently as The Salvation Army State of the Nation report comments, it is very hard to know what is going on.

We are dished up simplistic indicators (eg the reduction in welfare numbers) then the media are left to spin them, as if they herald a new dawn. Thus the state of the nation report was hailed this morning in the NZ Herald under the banner “Life gets better on most indicators”

Child poverty is dwindling, more people are in jobs and people are drinking and gambling less, the Salvation Army says. The army’s eighth annual “state of the nation” report says life is getting better on 14 out of 22 indicators of our social wellbeing. Only four indicators are getting worse and four others are inconclusive.

The ‘evidence’ the Herald cited to support the view that child poverty is ‘dwindling’ is found here:

Children in families on welfare benefits have dropped to about 17 per cent of all children, the lowest for 25 years, through a combination of welfare reforms pushing sole parents into work and more jobs pulling the unemployed back into the workforce.

This is not evidence of success. We do not know what has happened to sole parents pushed off their benefits. As the author of the Salvation Army report says, the historical link between numbers of benefits and numbers of children in poverty may have altered.

Let’s see what the Salvation Army report actually says about children:

While most New Zealand children are materially secure and well supported by their family as well as schools and health services, a significant minority—perhaps 20%—face a number of social and economic risks. Over the past two years progress for these children has been minimal and there are some signs of things getting worse for the most vulnerable children.

But they also say

Recent declines in the number of children living in benefit dependent households is welcome news, although there is no evidence available to suggest that children no longer reliant on benefits are any better off—in monetary or material terms.

My observation is that the Salvation Army can’t have it both ways. To say that getting children out of benefit dependent families is welcome news buys into the ideological view that welfare is always bad, paid work is always good. For women looking after children on their own this is a cruel judgement indeed as they struggle with the difficult and unappreciated work of bringing up the next generation, often with little material or emotional support.

When will we put the needs of children first? If the improved economy is reducing some pressures at least a little at last for some, what happens when the next downturn kicks in? The badly designed welfare and family tax credit system needs immediate attention.

As Andrew Little and Russell Norman said so well in their speeches in the first day of Parliament, child poverty is a major, and very serious issue for New Zealand. It will require a huge commitment to solve and relying on economic growth alone does not work. As the Salvation Army report stresses, secure affordability housing is fundamental for family well-being and must be a priority for policy. But families with children need more spending money. There are urgent steps to take to correct the miserable failings of Working for families as this AUT Briefing Paper Series What should be done about Child Poverty? outlined.

To fix Working for Families and address housing policy new spending of the order of at least $1 billion per annum is required. Where will it come from? What about creaming 10% of the $10 billion net cost of New Zealand Superannuation from high income supernannuitants? They would not even notice but if they did, many would think if was fair enough. This paper Improving the affordability of New Zealand Superannuation shows how it can be done.

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About the author

Co-director retirement policy and Research Centre, CPAG management committee

116 Comments

  1. Nehemia Wall says:

    Surely there is value in someone becoming independent of the state for their incomes? Why is long term state dependence suddenly ok, particularly when there is plenty of work (skilled and unskilled)?

    • Your assertion that there is “plenty of work” is delusional. Not only is unemployment up, but under-employment is also rising. Your fellow National/ACT mates might believe that garbage, but the rest of us simply view your statement as a sad attempt at propagandising for the government.

      Score: F for Fail.

      • Nehemia Wall says:

        Nonsense. There are plenty of jobs available. Job creation and employment are at the highest levels for many years, and the only reason unemployment is not reducing is because of the turnaround in migration flows. NZ’s unemployment rate is lower than Australia’s, and your narrative has been left behind by the reality of a growing economy.

        • You parrot the National Party line very well. And, like the National Party line, it is all a crock of you-know-what.

          Cheers.

        • Mike the Lefty says:

          Sorry, perhaps you misunderstood what is being said here: It is “real” jobs, not National Party definition jobs.

        • countryboy says:

          @Nehemia Wall .
          You’re full of logical fallacy shit , your Over Lord is a con man and a swindler and any work 90% of anybody in New Zealand does is now for our off-shore masters to which Jonky The Dark and Dumpy has sold our stuff and things to . So fuck off !

        • job creation and employment are at the highest levels for many years …

          Unemployment is rising, from 5.4% to 5.7%.

          the only reason unemployment is not reducing is because of the turnaround in migration flows.

          Personally, I blame sunspots, chemtrails, and Islamic State. That’s about as valid as your reference to a “turnaround in migration flows”.

          The point is, Nehemia, that National has failed to plan ahead for migration flows. They’ve had plenty of warning this was happening. (But that’s what you get from a party that doesn’t believe in co-operative planning with business, unions, and local bodies.)

          By the way, you’ve managed to contradict yourself beautifully…

          “There are plenty of jobs available” “and the only reason unemployment is not reducing is because of the turnaround in migration flows”.

          You screwed that one up nicely. 😀

          • Nehemia Wall says:

            A rise of .3% is insignificant. And there is no contradiction. There are plenty of jobs available, and there has been a huge turnaround in migration, which is temporarily inflating the numbers looking for work. As those people are matched to the jobs available, and as people realise they need to be more mobile or less indigent, the unemployment rate will drop.

            It must stick in your craw that the thousands who left NZ in the disastrous final years of the last labour Govt are coming home, but that’s what’s happening.

            • Ann Johns says:

              Less indigent. Would that be double speak for lazy? I wonder why Frank even bothered to try and enlighten you, I have found that most natz supporters are wilfully ignorant and have personal issues that don’t allow them to think clearly and logically. Can you tell me how making it incredibly easy (online) to apply for a working visa and the govt giving foreign students the right to work for 20 hours a week is going to help? I already know I just wasted my time.

            • It must stick in your craw that the thousands who left NZ in the disastrous final years of the last labour Govt are coming home, but that’s what’s happening.

              Nehemia: they are coming home predominantly from Australia because – (complete this sentence).

              Clue: it’s in your February 13, 2015 at 12:56 pm post.

              • Nehemia Wall says:

                …NZ is much better shape economically than Australia. A turnaround since 2008 my friend. Another reason I stopped voting Labour.

                • NZ is much better shape economically than Australia.

                  That’s not what you said previously.

                  As you pointed out;

                  NZ’s unemployment rate = 5.7%.
                  Australia’s unemployment rate = 6.4%

                  New Zealanders working in Australia are not eligible for the unemployment benefit.

                  So as unemployment increases (due, in part, to a down turn in the mining industry as Chinese demand for raw materials decreases), New Zealanders have no option than return to this country to receive state support.

                  It’s either that or starve to death.

                  Your interpretation of economic events leaves much to be desired.

                  Do you always indulge in looking at the world through your own ideological ‘bent’, rather than reality?

        • Andrew says:

          Nehemia – you’re right. There are jobs galore for those that really want to work.

          The problem the left now faces is that successful working families tend not to vote for loser parties that just whine and pimp poverty.

          The left prefers to see brown people stuck in the ghetto where they can *pretend* to be their advocate, whilst taking a fat parliamentary salary.

          • Mike in Auckland says:

            Hahaha, why did John Key and his government not abolish WFF? Because the Labour policy that led to its introduction proved popular with the middle class workers, as it made their life a lot easier.

            Also have some employers not minded WFF, as it subsidises families’ incomes, and allows employers to continue paying low wages and salaries.

            John Key and his Nats would have hurt a damned lot of people, had they made good of earlier promises, to abolish WFF (the allegedly “communist” policy).

            And it was only due to that, Key and Nats keeping core Labour policies, and systems in place, that gave them the votes they needed to very narrowly win and form governments.

            It is hardly proof for the electorate having got tired of “left” policy, when it comes to family and additional support at least.

            • Nehemia Wall says:

              Oh yes I agree on WFF. WFF is a real centre left policy, and a good one at that. In my opinion it spread far too far into the middle class, but the principle was well meaning. But as for the remaining policies of the left, they were soundly rejected at the last election, with around 60% of NZ’ers backing centre right parties.

          • Nehemia Wall says:

            And angry andy isn’t helping Labour one bit.

        • Mike in Auckland says:

          Yes, there are more jobs in some areas, like in construction, that is in Christchurch and Auckland, and for jobs in related, associated industries.

          But there are also very many casual, part time and precarious jobs, that do in themselves not pay a living for the workers, and leave them struggle. The embarrassing minimum wage increases, and insulting low benefit adjustments we get every year have not kept up with housing and some other costs, and hence having a job does not mean having an income to live comfortably off.

          And unemployment has just increased, due to continued large scale immigration, which results in new migrant workers competing with local workers for the jobs there are, keeping wages and salaries low, and putting more workers on the market, that does not keep up with creating the jobs and incomes all these people need.

          Watch out for the housing situation and market in Auckland, overcrowding is rampant, in many areas, and I know of many homes where new migrants live sleeping in bunks or rolled out mattresses or sleeping bags, in high numbers per room. All those wanting a part of the pie, that John Key promises migrants and locals to grow endlessly.

          Where is dairy heading, where are some other rural industries heading, with a lack of rain, lower commodity prices and so. The dream is coming to an end, if it ever really was a “dream”, as some like you seem to believe.

          • Nehemia Wall says:

            Mike the left has been banging on about the sky falling in for 6 years. It hasn’t happened and it isn’t going to happen. The economic cycle will always produce ups and downs, but the consensus of opinion internationally is that NZ is in very good shape, and has been soundly managed for most of the past 30 years or so (give or take 3 years between 2005 and 2008).

      • theresa says:

        New Zealand Post is about to let go of some of their employees there are other companies that are actually closing their doors, one in July so how could there be plenty of jobs. Where are these jobs so people can start applying for them.

        If you are in work I wonder how many of you are honestly making ends meet. Most of the low income earners don’t and to make it sad the government doesn’t look at the rent, power and water they only look at the gross income. Food doesn’t count when it comes to the government that is why people around 3pm are sent from work and income offices on Fridays to food banks instead of helping them. Most food banks don’t open Saturdays and close around 3pm each day even salvation army.

        • Nehemia Wall says:

          And for every job you say is being lost, I can quote others that are being created. The average wage is increasing, and with inflation at under 1% wages are moving well ahead of household costs.

          • And for every job you say is being lost, I can quote others that are being created.

            Not true. You know as well as I do that unemployment increased over the last quarter from 5.5% to 5.7%. That’s an extra 8,000 unemployed.

            So clearly, you are not telling us the truth, are you?

    • Kingi says:

      Plenty of work available? You must be on Planet Key. Back in the real world, you cant lose 40,000 manufacturing jobs and expect there to be no collateral damage. Of the jobs that remain, many are part-time, or casual. Wages are rock-bottom. The simple truth is that job availability is a mathematical equation. So even if we allow your unsupported assertion that there is “plenty of work” to stand, the fact remains that there are simply not enough jobs for the numbers who are seeking them.

      • Nehemia Wall says:

        There is no data to support your assertions. None. If people are prepared to be mobile and actively seeking work, work is available.

    • Nehemia Wall- Indepedence from the state is an odd concept. Are families getting Working for Families or superannuitants getting NZS independent from the state? When you drive to your low wage job ( paid no less then the minimum wage thanks to the state) on a state provided road, or use the public health or education system did you do it all yourself?

      • Nehemia Wall says:

        “Are families getting Working for Families or superannuitants getting NZS independent from the state? ”

        My comment was about long term dependency. WFF is a targeted support to working families, and one that I would prefer to see replaced with a tax free threshold. In my opinion WFF does create a form of dependency, that if long term could be unhelpful.

        “When you drive to your low wage job ( paid no less then the minimum wage thanks to the state) on a state provided road, or use the public health or education system did you do it all yourself?”

        Well any time I pay tax, I am contributing to those services.

        And therein lies the problem with long term dependency. If a person is able bodied, of working age and work is available, they should be at work.

        • If a person is able bodied, of working age and work is available, they should be at work.

          If the work is there, Nehemia. You left out that vital missing piece.

          • Nehemia Wall says:

            The work is there, Frank. My son finished year 13 in 2014 and has decided to do a gap year before deciding what to do for a career. He has gone labouring, and has more work than he can cope with.

            • I’ll mention that to a 50 year old unemployed woman with kids. I’m sure she’d be snapped up for any number of labouring jobs…

              • Nehemia Wall says:

                You might want to do just that. My local bakery is looking for a full time bakery assistant. Your 50 year old female friend might just be a perfect candidate.

              • Andrew says:

                Maybe that 50 year old woman with a kid should have given more consideration to her career and her fertility.

                There will always be those who make poor decisions but I shouldn’t have to pay taxes to prop up her failures.

                • Norm says:

                  People make bad decisions mate. It’s called being human not being a beneficiary.

                  Do you have a problem paying tax for highways you don’t use?

                  Do you oppose bailing out Rio Tinto or Sky City?

                  Or are you just bashing beneficiaries because they are easy targets and you are bitter about your own failings?

                • Yes, of course, Andrew. According to you, her failing is not having the power of precognition.

                  Damn silly of her, eh?

                  Or of the other thousands who’ve lost their jobs as companies have gone under or re-trenched, since 2008.

                  In late 2007, there were 78,000 people unemployed.

                  At the height of the GFC recession, there were 171,000 by mid-July.

                  [Calculate here: http://www.tradingeconomics.com/new-zealand/unemployed-persons%5D

                  According to you, 93,000 workers made “poor decisions”?

                  According to you, they are all “failures”?

                  The only failure that I see here are right wing morons like you who parrot cliches without giving a thought what garbage you are repeating.

                  Grow up, Andrew. Seriously, grow up.

                  • Nehemia Wall says:

                    Frank, in 2007 NZ was heading into a recession of it’s own making. By 2008 Treasury was predicting deficits for the next 9 years, and NZ was then sailing in to the GFC. If you don’t know this, you really shouldn’t be trying to comment on matters of the economy.

                    • Frank, in 2007 NZ was heading into a recession of it’s own making

                      Oh, yes, Nehemia/IntrinsicValue? Data for that please? Are you going to repeat the same cherry picked static, whilst ignoring the high-growth/low unemployment years prior to 2007/08?

                      By 2008 Treasury was predicting deficits for the next 9 years

                      Citation please? Because Gosman made the same spurious claim and you know what? He couldn’t find the Treasury data to back it up. You’re simply repeating a statement made by Bill English and John Key.

                      In other words, it’s more bullshit from yet another rightwinger…

                      So, link please, or retract.

        • Maama says:

          Nehemia if the wealthy were paying their taxes, this country would be in a very different state of affairs.

          • Nehemia Wall says:

            The ‘wealthy’ pay more than their fair share of the tax.

            • mpledger says:

              Nope, people who are wealth pay very little income tax – often single digits (or near). People who have high incomes pay quite a bit of tax *but* in *relative* terms people on low incomes pay more because GST hits them harder.

              And if you say that poor people get more benefits from the government than that’s true in physical dollars but rich people get more benefits e.g. they get the benefit of the police and justice system to enforce their property rights and that is worth a lot of money considering what they could lose.

              • NehemiaWall says:

                The benefits of policing etc are paid for by working people out of taxes. If people are long term beneficiaries, they’ll have paid bugger all tax. The reality is that higher income wanders pay a disproportionate amount of tax. That’s supported by ample data, if only you took the time to look.

            • Ann Johns says:

              Oh, hahahahahahahahaha farking hahahahaha

            • Another lie from you, Nehemia? A couple of days ago you were telling us unemployment was dropping. (It’s gone up.)

            • Andrew says:

              Nehemia, you’re right again!

              The facts is that the wealthy pay the majority of the tax

              http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/money/7416899/Figures-suggest-wealthy-carry-tax-burden

              and this increased when national closed various loopholes landlords at the start of their tenure.(Cullen & Clark both being landlords)

              • Mike in Auckland says:

                Oh yeah, here are two other media reports showing a somewhat different kind of reality:

                http://tvnz.co.nz/business-news/only-half-nz-s-most-wealthy-paying-top-tax-rate-6200604

                http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10887756

                And as the statistical graphs show, provided by IRD themselves, it is GST that has had the highest increase in tax take, paid for by all consumers. As the tax burden has been shifted from income tax further to GST, this has affected the low and middle income earners much more than the higher earners.

                http://www.ird.govt.nz/aboutir/external-stats/revenue-refunds/revenue-collected/revenue-collected.html

                Your stuff.co article is only showing very selected, outdated data, which belongs in the “stuffit” bin.

              • Mike in Auckland says:

                Naturally the wealthy should pay higher taxes, because tax should be measured and leveled at the degree at which people have the ability to pay taxes. If persons have accrued high wealth, and get high income, well above the median, the average and the low income earners, they deserve to be taxed higher.

                If we had a more equal society, like it used to be in the 1950s to 1970s, where salaries and wages were within much narrower bands, all would be paying more equal amounts of tax also.

                I am tired of this artificially created “poor rich” picture, where we are supposed to feel guilty for taxing them too much. NO CEO deserves to earn over half a million dollars in income per year, no matter how smart and “good” she or he is. A CEO who thinks they “deserve” so much more than the workers she/he employs, has an attitude problem, thinking they are some “half god” that is the “master” of the show, hence entitled to so much more.

                Good leadership starts with humility and an attitude valuing the work of the persons the leader is employing, not with an entitlement attitude!

                • Nehemia Wall says:

                  “Naturally the wealthy should pay higher taxes, because tax should be measured and leveled at the degree at which people have the ability to pay taxes.”

                  That’s hardly egalitarian, is it?

                  • Mike in Auckland says:

                    You talking about “egalitarian”, I had to roll on the floor laughing, I could not stop.

                    An egalitarian society would have much greater income equality and with that taxation equality, but after decades of neo-liberal socio-economic experimenting, we are light years away from being an egalitarian society.

                    Once the CEO only earns a maximum of say five times the average of his company’s employees and no more, we may get a little closer to a more equal society.

                    But we are not, due to John Key, the Nats, the ACT hangers on and their government policies.

            • theresa says:

              yea right when did that happen?

        • Norm says:

          A Universal Basic Income would render this whole discussion redundant. But no doubt you would oppose this Nehemia as just another form of ‘dependency’. The market cannot provide full employment and people should not have to work full time just to justify their existence. Seems the Right wing is only happy when everyone has their shoulder to the grindstone working meaningless soul-crushing jobs just to make ends meet and create wealth for employers.

          • Nehemia Wall says:

            That’s just redundant socialist dogma. Society owes no-one a living, and the most soul destroying thing is inter-generational welfare dependency. My view is we should introduce a generous tax free threshold and greater financial incentives to transition from welfare to work.

            • Norm says:

              Well at least you are thinking about practical policy alternatives. But, like most Right-wingers, you utterly fail the test for compassion and empathy. First symptoms of the sociopath.

              Also, its not socialist dogma to say the market cannot provide full employment. Its an observable empirical fact. Full employment has only ever occurred during wartime when government took over most industry.

              • Nehemia Wall says:

                There is no such thing as ‘full employment’. There are always people unable to work, and there is no viable political system ever invented that provides full employment. Just ask the Russians.

                • Norm says:

                  By ‘full employment’ I mean employment for all those fit and able to work. You accept such a thing can’t exist and still complain about welfare. Perhaps those looking for work should live on the street until the are lucky enough to find a job?

                  • Nehemia Wall says:

                    When did I say there should be no welfare? I am very much in favour of the welfare state, as it was originally conceived. Those unable to get work, or those unsuited to current work, should receive assistance. But welfare should not be a lifestyle choice, as it is for many people today.

                    • But welfare should not be a lifestyle choice, as it is for many people today.

                      How many people is it a “lifestyle choice” for? What is the percentage? Can you tell us, with a linked source for the data?

                      Because if you can’t nehemia, then you’re simply another ignorant right wing prat parroting cliches without an ounce of brainpower to rely on.

                      Come on – provide the data if you can.

                      I challenge you.

                    • Norm says:

                      If you have ever been on the dole you would know that it’s not much of a lifestyle.

                      If you would just get to the point or take a position and stick to it, rather than nit-picking my statements and making vague unsubstantiated complaints about the poor, we might actually get somewhere with this thread.

                      But, honestly I’m losing interest and you are running out of straw men to knock down.

                    • Mike in Auckland says:

                      FFS, welfare in NZ is hardly a “lifestyle choice”, when were you last living off the dole?

                • The Russians, under the old Soviet model, did not tolerate unemployment. They may have over-staffed industries, but everyone was in (a) paid work (b) full time study or (c) in the military.

                  So precious resources were not wasted on people sitting on the dole because of economic cycles; cheaper imports; mechanisation; etc.

                  Your call.

              • Andrew says:

                Norm, the Right wants what’s best for the poor just like the Left.

                The difference is that centre-right policies actually work whereas left of centre policies (handouts) tend to entrench and reinforce the bad decisions of the poor.

                The only way for the poor to lift themselves off the bottom rung of society is by education and self discipline. So we have to structure our support to encourage those things.

                Whilst your empathy is really cute, it needs to be tempered with a dash of reality. Remember: The road to hell is paved with good intentions 😉

                • Norm says:

                  That’s where we differ. I don’t accept that centre-Right policies ‘actually work’.

                  That the poor make ‘bad decisions’ is both a little demeaning and also undermines the concept of rational economic actors. I do agree that education is key to tackling poverty, but ‘self-discipline’ is a little like telling a starving man to eat less.

                  To make any progress on child poverty the Right must accept that incomes are too low to cover basic costs, generally speaking it is not just a case of bad budgeting.

                  It seems obvious to me: to tackle poverty we must raise incomes and centre -Right policies such as tax cuts to encourage investment and removing labour regulations to encourage employment, don’t work. These policies seem to be exacerbating inequality not slowing it.

                  • Norm says:

                    I also find it interesting that those who have the least influence on economic policy are the ones blamed for poverty: the poor.

                    There will always be a ‘bottom rung’ in society and a need to staff that rung with labourers cleaners etc.

                    Simply lifting the min wage for those roles will go a long way.

                • The difference is that centre-right policies actually work whereas left of centre policies (handouts) tend to entrench and reinforce the bad decisions of the poor

                  What “decisions” might those be, Andrew?

                  And how can the policies of the right be “working” when child poverty is increasing and unemployment just rose by 8,000?

                  Get a grip on reality, Andrew, instead of parroting mindless cliches.

                  In effect, what you are doing is blaming the poor and beneficiarioes for failures they had no hand in making.

                  Or are you suggesting that unemployment rose from 3.4% to 7.3% in 2012 to the current 5.7% because people decided to voluntarily chuck in their jobs?

                  Is that what you’re suggesting?

                  Go away and think about it for a while. Because your parroted BS just makes you look ignorant, and not as clever as you think you are.

        • Mike in Auckland says:

          As it takes time to raise children, is WFF not also “long term dependency” then?

          • Nehemia Wall says:

            No. It is a recognition that sometimes people with families need help for a time. Just like paying unemployment benefit to someone looking for work. Benefits such as this prevent social dislocation. But it is right that able bodied recipients are either actively seeking work, or are retraining or relocating to find work.

            • Not everyone can relocate, as you seem to believe.

              And besides which, what you are advocating is a poorly paid (usually on minimum wage), itinerant workforce that has little or no community connections, and whose children are regularly up-rooted from their school to move to another area.

              Such a workforce may suit your hellish view of a mobile, easily-exploitable workforce, but it does nothing to foster a sense of community.

              You seem to ignore a much more simpler solution: ensure that jobs exist throughout the country and not just in disaster zones like Christchurch, or an over-heated housing bubble – which is prone to collapsing at any moment – like Auckland.

              As always, Nehemia, rightwingers like you are so slavish to your warped ideology that you ignore the realities of human needs.

    • Norm says:

      “long term welfare dependence” is not “suddenly okay” it was okay for ages and considered a good thing. We once prided ourselves on our welfare state and never used the word ‘dependence’ to describe it. Whats changed is that you and people like you have bought into the neo-liberal dogma that welfare is:

      a) unnecessary as the market can provide for all so long as regulation doesn’t skew the perfect market balance
      b) something that hinders economic growth
      c) a blatantly unethical attack on the individuals right to wealth and property through taxation and redistribution
      d) a relic of Cold War socialist thinking

      which is all nonsense

      When the Minister of Finance can publicly compare welfare to crack addiction we’ve reached a level of ideological delusion that’s pretty concerning.

      • Nehemia Wall says:

        The origins of the welfare state were not about long term dependency but about short term assistance. A hand ‘up’ not a hand ‘out’. The only exceptions are those who are genuinely unable to work. What the welfare system has become is an excuse for indolence. We now have families who are third generation beneficiaries, people who consider the state houses they live in as their own for life, and people whose daily decisions are made around what they can suck from the taxpayer. This makes me sick, and is a primary reason Labour lost my vote during the Clark years.

        • Norm says:

          You keep harping on about dependency, failing to understand the dynamics: the first generations of life-long beneficiaries appear around the same time manufacturing jobs began drifting offshore by the thousands. If welfare dependency is indeed a real issue it is a failure of both globalist free market economics and our education system, not our welfare system.

          Simply being available for work doesn’t create jobs, as you seem to think. What would create jobs is freeing capital from offshore tax havens where the wealthy have been hoarding it for decades, and putting it into the hands of workers and beneficiaries, both stimulating demand and encouraging investment in small businesses.

          • Nehemia Wall says:

            You need to upgrade your thinking. Manufacturing is no longer viable in NZ in many sectors. But so many other sectors have developed to take it’s place. If people don’t have a job, then it is up to their individual initiative to rethink,relocate or retrain.

            • Norm says:

              Now you are just trolling. I don’t understand your hatred for beneficiaries. In the bigger picture welfare costs far less than corporate tax avoidance, which doesn’t seem to be an issue for people like you. This is not a real discussion but you simply pushing your ridiculous ideology with clumsy political rhetoric.

              • Nehemia Wall says:

                No, it’s you who is trolling. I don’t hate beneficiaries, and I have given no ammunition to justify that accusation. I believe that people get trapped into welfare dependency, and that that is incredibly destructive to their self esteem. I am as disgusted by corporate tax evasion as you, and when there is a post on that here I will comment accordingly.

                • “I believe that people get trapped into welfare dependency”

                  It’s easy to get trapped into poverty (not welfare dependency as you claim) when there aren’t enough jobs.

                  We’ve had 30+ years of neo-liberalism, Nehemia – where are the jobs?!?!

                  Where. Are . The. Jobs?

                • Norm says:

                  You people are pathetic. As soon as you are called out on your ethics or the accuracy of your statements you back down or switch positions. You are harder to pin down than JK.

                  First welfare reforms are necessary because our system is outdated blah blah it breeds ‘indolence’ etc now you say its for beneficiaries own self-esteem.

                  At the risk of sounding cynical, I don’t believe you give a shit about peoples self-esteem. Your views are driven by a bitter rage that people are getting a ‘hand out’ for nothing, while poor you has to work for a living.
                  Of course, the second this becomes apparent and you are accused of being heartless or of hating beneficiaries you say that you only want them to succeed in life etc. Can’t even stand by your own convictions. Gutless.

                  BTW I’ve never seen you so active on this blog. Tax-evasion and corporate welfare often feature here but on this particular subject you make a point of responding to every single comment/reply. You give yourself away. Bene-basher.

            • You need to upgrade your thinking. Manufacturing is no longer viable in NZ in many sectors.

              So what is the alternative?

              We become a nation of hairdressers and real estate agents?

              You’re advocating, in effect, an entire industry be let to die so we can import cheap, shoddy goods from China instead?

              We used to have lower unemployment and more jobs in this country, once upon a time… before your precious religion of neo-liberalism gave us cheap shoes that fell apart in a couple of months along with 5.7% unemployment.

              Not much of a trade , is it, my neo-liberal friend?

        • Nehemia – You keep blaming unemployed for being out of work? Your slavish devotion to National/ACT is misguided.

          In effect you’re refusing to acknowledge the gross failures of the neo-liberal system you espouse.

          You also claim there’s “plenty of work” available.

          Recent redundancies put the lie to all your half-baked assertion, Nehemia.

          SRX Global employs nearly 30 staff in its New Zealand branch, but has decided to shift its work to Australia and Malaysia due to what it calls a lack of productivity in this country.

          Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing union spokesperson Louisa Jones said the company lacked investments which meant their machinery ran slower and was not up to date.

          http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/266072/jobs-lost-as-wellington-business-shuts

          Like most political/religious fanatics, when your belief system is shown to be flawed, you look to blame others for your failures. How many times in history have we seen blinkered adherents to a system shifting responsibility for failure on to others – and ignoring the blinding obvious.

          You seem incapable of accepting responsibility for your failed ideology.

          And by the way? I doubt you ever voted for Labour. (Except when Roger Douglas was Finance Minister perhaps.)

          • Nehemia Wall says:

            Redundancies in one sector don’t mean other sectors aren’t growing Frank, and that is precisely what is happening. It is clear you have no idea what ‘neo-liberal’ means, because as others have pointed out we don’t have any such system in NZ. We have a slavish commitment to an outdated model of welfare that is completely at odds with neo-liberal thinking. The economic direction of NZ over the past few decades has been a remarkable success, producing an economy that has survived a global recession better than most, and that has most certainly not collapsed as did the east european countries whose economic systems you seem to favour. Your comments exhibit more sour grapes than reason.

            • optickdropkick optickdropkick says:

              Neo liberal means , for your particular swivel eyed demographic, the freedom of individuals and corporations, to be free of most or any obligation to social fairness. The Neo (a title enthusiastically adopted by the far right ) just means you hang on to the old Ayn Rand obsessed Reganite mantras of the 80’s that most of us had the good sense to ditch along with Power Dressing Shoulder Pads and Duran Duran CD’s.

              • Nehemia Wall says:

                mmmmm, perhaps your definition is close, but it just goes to prove my point. We don’t, and have never had, neo-liberalism in NZ.

                • The Daily Blog Martyn Bradbury says:

                  What I always love about neo-liberals is their hell bent, light in the eyes, screaming certainty that we’ve never had neo-liberalism in NZ and the reason it hasn’t worked is because we haven’t gone far enough.

            • It is clear you have no idea what ‘neo-liberal’ means, because as others have pointed out we don’t have any such system in NZ.

              Hmmmm, I seem to recall a similar argument made in an Eastern European nation, in the 1970s… but from the other end of the economic spectrum.

              Like neo-liberalism – their system failed to deliver results as well.

              By the way, my neo-liberal friend, this will make you chuckle…

              Cadbury recently announced that in lieu of raising prices, they will cut their size of chocolate blocks instead.

              The same happened in July 2013, with Nestle’s Cocoa – but without any public announcement: https://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/2013/07/08/audrey-young-two-bains-old-cars-and-cocoa/

              The same used to happen in Eastern Europe/USSR – instread of inflation (which officially did not exist), products were removed from shelves; the same product reintroduced with different packaging but with reduced content; and the price kept the same.

              I laughed when I saw the cocoa cans and heard the recent Cadbury story.

              Then neo-liberals like you, Nehemia, can point to “low inflation” being a “victory ” of this government.

              It seems that the deeper we go, the less difference there is between former Soviet centralised economic system and neo-liberalism. Both rely of lies.

            • Mike in Auckland says:

              By the way, if you forgot it, this post is actually more about CHILD POVERTY and misleading statistics and the Salvation Army’s report, did you notice?

        • Mike in Auckland says:

          “The only exceptions are those who are genuinely unable to work. What the welfare system has become is an excuse for indolence.”

          Oh, how I love this kind of ideological drivel, now so common! It gives me the perfect reason to prove that this is an artificially created load of nonsense, all about moving the goal posts, to prove points, and to disentitle sick and disabled from support on health grounds and inability to work. But yes, they did a “thorough” job in the UK, and had a convicted, controversial health and disability insurance giant from the US “sponsor” research to prove now, that most sickness is not really that genuine or serious, it is mostly in people’s mind, so the “experts” they paid now claim.

          More on that here:
          http://accforum.org/forums/index.php?/topic/15188-medical-and-work-capability-assessments-based-on-the-bps-model-aimed-at-disentiteling-affected-from-welfare-benefits-and-acc-compo/
          http://accforum.org/forums/index.php?/topic/15264-welfare-reform-the-health-and-disability-panel-msd-the-truth-behind-the-agenda/
          http://accforum.org/forums/index.php?/topic/15463-designated-doctors-%e2%80%93-used-by-work-and-income-some-also-used-by-acc/
          AND THIS ONE:
          http://accforum.org/forums/index.php?/topic/17011-the-discredited-indefensible-wca-in-the-uk-its-demise-and-what-this-should-mean-for-nz-welfare-reforms/

          Excerpt from the latter post:
          “H). THE WCA REVIEWER DR LITCHFIELD AND HIS LINKS TO ‘FIT FOR WORK’ ”

          “Dr Paul Litchfield has been Chief Medical Officer for BT (British Telecom) and he is a member of ‘Fit For Work’, a “think tank” kind of “stake holder group” and lobby organisation:

          Re the author or “Reviewer”, look up info via these websites:
          https://uk.linkedin.com/pub/paul-litchfield/44/37b/104
          http://www.fitforworkeurope.eu/UK/About/paul-litchfield.htm

          “A UK report from 2007 is quoted, and it was supported by a “grant” from ‘Abbott’:
          ‘Fit for Work? Musculoskeletal Disorders and Labour Market Participation’
          http://www.fitforworkeurope.eu/Downloads/Website-Documents/44_fit_for_work_small.pdf

          The report starts with the ‘Executive Summary’ stating a perceived challenge:
          “The health of British workers is giving us serious cause for concern. Up to a quarter of the workforce is not healthy enough to drive the improvements in productivity which the UK needs to thrive in an increasingly globalised, knowledge-based economy. Despite record levels of employment and job growth, over 2.6 million people of working age are claiming Incapacity Benefit (DWP, 2007). There is overwhelming evidence that worklessness is, itself, bad for health and that rehabilitation back into work can positively affect physical health, psychological well-being and raise people out of poverty.”

          While lamenting the poor health, sickness absence and lack of productivity of UK workers, the report does on page 11 (under ‘Introduction’, 3rd section) bluntly admit the following:
          “But, as ever, the truth about the health and well-being of the UK working population is a little more complex than the headlines imply and, although the overall rate of sickness absence has stayed at about the same level for the last thirty years or so, we have witnessed some very significant – and concerning – changes in the nature and composition of work-related incapacity during this period.”

          There you have it, no change in work absence data for over 3 decades, but vested interest lobbyists CREATE an impression there is a CRISIS, of people “choosing” to be sick too easily and conveniently.

          • Nehemia Wall says:

            What a long and irrelevant post. People who are sick qualify for the benefit as far as I’m concerned, and I’m more than happy to pay taxes to help them out.

            • But yet, Nehemia, at the same time you refer to beneficiaries choosing to live on welfare as a “lifestyle choice”?

              How can you reconcile your statements? You’re engaging in a kind of Orwellian double-think – espousing two conflicting beliefs/facts at the same time, and believing both to be true.

            • Mike in Auckland says:

              Most your comments here were totally irrelevant when looking at the topic they were made under! This post is about child poverty, misleading statistics, lack of reliable information, MSD not publishing annual reports with useful data anymore, and the likes.

              You have been trolling and tried to argue with every commenter, and thus distracted from the actual issues of relevance.

              And my comments are NOT irrelevant at all, because work ability is a prerequisite to return to employment, and while you appear to know nothing on that subject matter, perhaps bother enlightening yourself with reading some of the stuff I referred to?!

              A government relying on flawed science and putting pressure on sick and disabled, to go and look for work, that is disgusting “social policy”.

    • Geoff Lye says:

      What work ?

      I am a person in my 60’s still need ing work and I am lucky if i get one or two weeks work a month on temp contracts even then they send me down the road as fast as they can find a younger person.

      Also I am trying to run a small business that got decimated by the earthquakes and the new alcohol laws have had a major effect as well.

    • XRAY says:

      I hope this moral standard of independent value is embraced by our”investors” with their rental properties, that they refuse to accept state handouts from tenants in the form rental subsidies.

      Nah, don’t be silly…. that’s different. It won’t happen will it, in our hypocritical bullshit society of haves and have-nots!

  2. countryboy says:

    When is jonky going to be dragged out of OUR office and arrested pending a Commission of Inquiry ?

    That is now the question .

    Who has an answer ?

    • Geoff Lye says:

      No we need the govennor general to do what happened to Gough Whitlam in Australia .

      The Government annulled and a new election called.

      This national government isn’t governing all they are doi9ng is screwing the country into a deeper hole with a bullshit borrowing well beyond our ability to pay back.

      • Geoff Lye says:

        as for plenty of work around you are bloody joking.

        People economic stability is going to the dogs daily as they dont get wage rises to keep up with costs.

        most jobs now have the same wage rates as they were 10 or 15 years ago.

        So the country cant keep up when people lifestyl;es keep getting screwed down into the ground.

        As i said in another post the middle class in 5 to 10 years wont exist the middle class will be working class as more and more people get put on individual contracts or made self employed to reduce costs.

        So middle class people who think they are okay jack are in for a rude awakening.

        I am one of those who were middle class who now considers myself working class and there is no distinction between those who are at the bottom of the heap and those who were middle class we are all in the same boat.

        The 1% want the other 99% and don’t care who they screw to get it.

        Beneficiary bashing is all part and parcel of it.

        Hence the walmart situation where the usa government pays half of walmarts staffs wages in food stamps and the likes.

        Same situation here with the accomadation suplement and working for families and family tax credits .

        It is all the same thing.

        The more costs get loaded on to the tax payer the more the 1% types get to keep.

  3. donna says:

    My observation from talking to people working in low-income communities is that the reason beneficiary numbers are falling is not because people have achieved the nirvana of independence from the state, but because beneficiaries are getting their benefits cut for the flimsiest of reasons and sometimes without regard to the legislation.

    More to the point, MSD abruptly and without consultation deciding to cease publication of the annual Statistical Report is a scandal. It’s hard to escape the conclusion that this is a government that would prefer we didn’t know just how shambolic and pointless their welfare reforms have been.

    • Malcolm says:

      Exactly Donna. And surprising no-one else has picked up on this!

      • theresa says:

        People that work with beneficiaries know that is what is happening but the problem is the media do not want to report on such matters.

        I believe that someone needs to organize a rally to march to Parliament and have it broadcast world wide for the shameful way the government is treating it’s people.How it prefers to give millions to the sky city but not to the welfare of it’s people.

        That people on welfare are punished by having their benefits cut or stop all together.

  4. Norm says:

    Just so Susan. It’s an ideological battle and the Right understand this, that’s why they can’t afford to make any meaningful stats public, as it would completely undermine their bogus ‘trickle down’ type of assertions. The Right actually have no interest in governing in the classical sense of the word. Their logical end point would be the dissolution of the state and it’s replacement by corporations. Hence the TPPA.

    • Geoff Lye says:

      Norm you are right on the button and i saw thisa coming three years ago.

      Anyone who has a medical disability will tell you the help they get now is next to nothing compared to what they got 6 or even 10 years ago.

  5. Mike in Auckland says:

    Oh yeah, work is always “good” for your health, they scream out now. It is soooo good, it beats the “drug” called “welfare”, which Bill English compared to “crack cocaine” just before the last election. He got that from the fanatical “work focused” so-called Principal Health Advisor WiNZ have been employing since late 2007, one Dr David Bratt.

    He again got his ideas from UK based “experts”, who were paid or “sponsored” by a large US originated, controversial health and disability insurer called UNUM, that was keen to sell more insurance policies in the UK, and hence was heavily involved in influencing welfare policy there, to kick more sick and disabled off benefits, and push them to find jobs that the healthy find hard to get, all to save money for the state, and to get people pressured to rather buy private insurance, should they not cope and fall sick again.

    Read more about all this nonsense, which was also flowing into “advice” Paula Bennett and the MSD used (fr. Professor M. Aylward), when formulating and implementing “reforms” here:

    http://accforum.org/forums/index.php?/topic/16685-bill-english-takes-lessons-from-work-will-set-you-free-propagandists/

    http://accforum.org/forums/index.php?/topic/16737-work-has-fewer-%e2%80%9chealth-benefits%e2%80%9d-than-mansel-aylward-and-other-so-called-experts-claim-it-can-cause-serious-harm/

    http://accforum.org/forums/index.php?/topic/16092-work-ability-assessments-done-for-work-and-income-%E2%80%93-partly-following-acc%E2%80%99s-approach-a-revealing-fact-study/

    http://accforum.org/forums/index.php?/topic/17011-the-discredited-indefensible-wca-in-the-uk-its-demise-and-what-this-should-mean-for-nz-welfare-reforms/

    When are the damned useless and biased MSM journo monkeys ever going to bother to investigate all this, I ask? Instead they seem to be the willing facilitators for an increasingly corrupt and incompetent government.

  6. Mike in Auckland says:

    “I have been wondering for a long time where the annual MSD’s statistical report is hiding. It appears, without anyone being informed, that the 2012 statistical report was the last one.”

    Susan, the MSD were hit up re that, and challenged due to an explosion of costs of Medical Appeal Board reviews being conducted, meaning a high increase in medical reviews. There were a number of reasons for it, and one must have been the consequence of Paula Bennetts new ‘Future Focus’ policy, to also work test many on sickness benefits.

    There were clear signs of a “firmer” approach on “work ability”, and of so called designated doctors WINZ use for second opinions, being influenced, to make the decisions MSD and WINZ prefer.

    This led to more requests for review, more appeals and some other fall out, never made much public. MSD and WINZ and Bennett were challenged on the numbers, and to this day, they have been stone walling. Hence they must have decided to stop the annual reports, which also included such data as mentioned above. They simply want to conduct their social engineering approach and experiment without being “disturbed” doing so.

    Re secrecy and lack of available information it got even worse since the introduction of the new, draconian regime since mid 2013, and since then there has been a blanket of secrecy cast out to conceal so much in the way of statistics, on evaluation data and so forth. Even the media struggle to get information on welfare reforms and their effects and results, and OIAs have gone to the Ombudsman, who has a backlog to work off, as the government has been very reluctant to fund that office, to process the increasing work load they have.

    It is all more or less a smart agenda, and as even the Ombudsman seems to get little cooperation from MSD (hence a major review there now), we are indeed where we are at now, for the very reason, that transparency has been stopped.

    Read the following interesting post for further information on all this:

    http://publicaddress.net/speaker/how-is-government-evaluating-its-welfare/

    • Susan St John says:

      Yes excellent post from Michael Fletcher. For all the years of evidence based policy debates and conferences on how to do social policy evaluation the people employed as experts in Wellington by us, the taxpayers, are simply not doing their job.

      Treasury have recently ‘evaluated’ Working for Families. “Working for Families changes: The effect on labour supply in New Zealand”
      http://www.treasury.govt.nz/publications/research-policy/wp/2014/14-18

      It leaves me speechless. Here is their conclusion:
      “It is estimated that the introduction of the new policy increases labour supply of sole parents by an average of 0.62 hours per week, but decreases labour supply of married men and women by 0.10 and 0.50 hours per week, respectively.”
      Duh– there are lots more married people than sole parents — does mean that for all that hype about the need for work incentives from denying poor families access to to the in work tax credit , total labour supply actually reduced because of it??
      The paper does not discuss the implications of these findings and has no self reflective comments at all.
      It is not what evaluation is supposed to be. Sadly the MSD are not even doing bad evaluations of welfare reform.. Grrrr

  7. The Fairy Godmother says:

    I think that because beneficiaries get such a lot of abuse in the media and by the likes of Paula Bennet that people don’t go on benefits if they can avoid it. It is shameful to them. I know of young people from middle class families including my own who can avoid going on a benefit because they live at home for free. This masks the statistics and I am sure it is a lot worse than it is. And I am furious about it because it is not these young people’s fault that they can’t get a job they are looking and looking. Decent jobs that pay a fair wage aren’t to be found.

  8. Matt says:

    The same could be said about the statistic the left loves to talk about, the ~250,000 children in poverty in New Zealand. That figure is the number of children in families who earn a household income under 60% of the median household income. This means it wouldn’t matter if New Zealand was the richest or the poorest country in the world there will still be are large number of people under 60% of median income. It’s equally justifiable to say that the 250,000 stat is complete bs

    • Nehemia Wall says:

      It is that type of dishonesty by the left that discredits the work people do with the genuinely needy.

      • Tell me, Nehemia – do you even know what the unemployment benefit is, for a single person, over 25?

        Pick one of these:

        (A) $110 p/w, net

        (B) $209 p/w, net

        (C) $325 p/w, net

        (d) $401 p/w, net

        I bet you don’t know, and you’ll resort to googling it.

  9. Brown Under says:

    William Booth the founder of the Salvation Army will be rolling in his grave to see the outcome of his work being used for capitalist business venture’s, over inflated prices in their second hand shops, delivering inadequate drug & alcohol programmes that is tax payer funded, asking for donations & even have the cheek to advertise on TV to leave your will to the Salvation Army after you die.

    The Salvation Army was set up for the poor, alcoholic’s as William Booth saw a genuine need to help the less fortunate however neo – liberal capitalism seems to be the order of the day for the Salvation Army. I do ask their unpaid volunteers in their shops who is William Booth however they obviously don’t know with blank looks on their faces. If only they knew that they’re contributing to building an empire for the Salvation Army instead of doing gods work.

  10. 333 says:

    Gotta love that dogmatic thinking from the likes of Nehemia, . .and an overwhelming majority of the population if we are to believe that those with the loudest voices are said. . .The ones that actually receive exposure.

    Who would argue for their own enslavement,. . .the willfully ignorant or the master/owner.

    If I don’t ‘work’ . . then I am less than a dog. A worthless scoundrel, . . .I wonder if dependent is synonymous with Maori/Islander, but hey, I’m not gonna make any assumptions. Who am I to judge.

    When we pass to the other side of the grey veil I am certain our value as a human will be quantified by how many hours of hard labor we amassed, . . .He was a good lad. . . If only he had managed to find how own way in life. He died a hunchback, but he had pride in those gnarled and calloused hands, how was he to know there was more to life than servitude. WELL. . .enough of that chatter. . .Must get back to work. . .You know, that thing that I was born for.

  11. Norm says:

    I’m beginning to think Nehemia Wall is just being disingenuous here. It’s a known tactic to troll blogs etc, to distract and keep people from having productive discussions. We end up arguing with people who will not change their minds, rather than moving from discussion to conclusion and then action. Let’s just ignore these people.

    • McSandwich says:

      Well said Norm.

      I’m sure IntrinsicValue and NehemiaWall, when they finish trolling and gobshiting for the NACTS could both get part-time or full-time work in a ‘Jim Henson’ show – as muppets, rather than muppers.

  12. optickdropkick optickdropkick says:

    Under employment grows..even among so called shortage workers such as nurses. Recent real life complaints of ‘not enough hours’ are common amongst ERN’s and RN’s in the private aged care sector as they find their hours are taken by workers recruited en mass by agencies from overseas. (not that I’m, for one second, condemning anyone for travelling here to seek work) most of whom will work for less pay.

  13. Cassie says:

    WOW.
    WHAT WOULD PEOPLE SAY IF THEY KNEW
    – That the ENTIRE INTERNATIONAL Banking system was FRAUDULENT.

    Nehemia you are a disgrace to your People.
    Oh. You can’t identify with . Confused. Mixed Blood.

    What a SHAME
    True blue Maori honor their Roots.
    Honor the CREATOR. Honor GOD.
    HONOR NATURE.

    Whereas You
    Indoctrinated/programmed to think
    by “Popular”( Given) info/ “News” and on TV.

    YOU – just Follower just like dumb sheep.
    So SAD I feel for you