What would you do Prime Minister English?

By   /   March 19, 2017  /   42 Comments

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Bill English claims to be keen on rewarding ‘hardworking’ New Zealanders.


Bill English claims to be keen on rewarding ‘hardworking’ New Zealanders.

Maria and Sam have 5 children, they live in a HNZ house.  Their overriding goal in life is for their children to do well at school. We meet them at their wits end on a hot March morning in West Auckland after a yet another demeaning and demoralising meeting with WINZ.

Their house is very small for 7 people but has given them security for 10 years and, until recently, Housing NZ allowed them to pay an income related-rent of around $250.  Sam has a 40 hour a week job at $16.80 per hour in a factory.  They don’t drink, smoke or gamble but even with subsidised rent, they were struggling to feed their growing family. They were so desperate they took loans with loan sharks just for the basics. With hungry, active young boys they were often at the Salvation Army for foodbank help.   

Already hard workers, they got National’s message loud and clear that work is the way out of poverty.  So, after her last child, Maria went back to work 5 days a week at McDonalds for $15.80 an hour. This was far from easy for her with 5 young children. You can see, Maria and Sam are exactly the kind of hardworking parents that Bill English approves of.  

But what happened next was their rent suddenly went up nearly $200 per week to $442 and they lost $142 a week from their Working for Families. Of course Maria also had less time to care for her family so everyone was under stress. Loans started mounting for the basics of school uniforms stationary, school fees and food, and they got behind in their rent payments. Housing New Zealand was saying to them since they were earning so much they needed to find a private rental. Stress mounted as they could see that a private rental would provide their family no security of tenure and disrupt their children’s schooling.

Rent arears accrued of over $2000 and Housing NZ issued an eviction notice.  Their working hours were affected because so much time was spent at appointments with WINZ, community law office, MSD, and Housing New Zealand. Eventually they were advised that Maria should stop work altogether because her income was the problem. It pushed this family over the threshold for income-related rents to apply.

After very time-consuming negotiations, Housing New Zealand agreed that the eviction would be waived and WINZ agreed to lend them the money to repay the arears. This morning they went to WINZ to sign the papers. Sam had to take time off work and they had their youngest child with them which was stressful for them and the child.  It took one and half hours because the new case worker they met with kept insisting that the application for a loan for the arears had been declined. Only through their persistence did they finally get the right documents.  They were not so lucky with their request for help with food.  A food grant that was approved three weeks ago was declined.  Why?   Sam had just got a 20 cents per hour increase in income that disqualified them.   

Maria has cut back to one day work a week to keep a foot in the door of employment, and to just keep their income related rent. But that could be jeopardised if Sam works overtime. Yes, they are paying less rent and get more WFF, but no they can’t survive on just his income. They have just pawned their wedding rings and are attempting to withdraw Sam’s small KiwiSaver fund under hardship provisions

What would you do Mr English?  

 

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About the author

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

42 Comments

  1. Pete says:

    What would Mr English do? Pray even more for another Christchurch type earthquake I reckon.

  2. Gosman says:

    Why have they got 5 children?

    • ?!

      What kind of question is that?!

      • Mike the Lefty says:

        Gosman always wants to know why people have children.
        He obviously didn’t do too well in biology at school.

    • Susan St John says:

      Gosman
      The article asks the question what would you do Mr English. Has your reply when Bill has 6 children got any credibility?

    • countryboy says:

      [Comment deleted. Inappropriate language. – Scarletmod]

      • countryboy says:

        It wasn’t all inappropriate. Just that last one. It was a good one though wasn’t it? And just for gosman.

    • bert says:

      Iv’e just worked it out. Gosman’s a robot. Doesn’t know how he/she arrived on planet Key.

    • Mike in Auckland says:

      They have 5 children, because they are hard working NZers.

      • Gosman says:

        That can’t afford to keep 5 children. People don’t need to have lots of children. It is a choice. People shouldn’t expect all their extra living costs around having extra children will be picked up by the State.

        • So in effect, Gosman, what you’re saying is that because the neo-liberal experiment has failed to lift wages; because jobs are scarcer and precarious; and people aren’t earning enough to live on – that they don’t have the right to have families?!

          Really, is that what you’re saying?

          Because that’s precisely what I’m getting from you; only the middle and affluent classes should have children, and the poor should commit a form of class-eugenics.

          So that is what ACT policy has boiled down to, eh? Blame the poor for their lot and condemn them for the most basic biological facet of humanity, simply because of your failed economic ideology.

          • Gosman says:

            Did anybody force these people to have 5 children? When they were struggling financially?

            • Are you suggesting people should only have families if they are rich? That if wages fail to keep pace with the rising cost of living (and increasingly unaffordable housing), that the poor should be penalised?

              Remember, Gosman, that housing is now the single greatest cost for many households. Housing unaffordability has increased, as have rents. Even your own party, ACT, admits this (and blames the RMA, Auckland Council, sunspots, etc). So why should poor families be demonised for daring to have children because housing has become more and more unaffordable?

              Considering that poverty has increased in the last thirty years since neo-liberal free market “reforms” were introduced in New Zealand, that’s a lot more people that you are saying should be denied the right to have a family. All because your much-promised “trickle down” dogma turned out to be a lie.

              I guess blaming the poor for being poor (and de facto advocating class eugenics in the process)is easy because (a) the poor are too distracted to vote and (b) they probably aren’t even aware you are making them out to be scapegoats for your failed ideology.

              Classy.

              Oh, and you’ve ducked my questions nicely, Gosman.

              • Sam Sam says:

                All i want to know is how gobbles plans to stop people having babies other than whinging about it

              • Gosman says:

                Noone is stating people shouldn’t have children. However if you are struggling financially I don’t think you should have MORE children. These people could have stopped at 3 or even 4 but instead they decided to have more and then complain that they can’t make ends meet.

                • And why can’t they make ends meet? It’s not rocket science, you can figure it out.

                • Priss says:

                  Ok, Gosman, we get what you’re saying; only the well off should have a family.

                  The poor should stop breeding and end their existence.

                  No more embarresssing poverty stories for you and the Nats to explain away, huh?

                  • Gosman says:

                    Ummm… no. I think I have been quite clear about this. This family can have as many children as they want. However they shouldn’t expect to have the State pick up the slack when they have much more (5) they they can afford on their own.

                    • Helen says:

                      I do think he has a point. Before deciding to go for the second , third child people do need to consider the impact on the child you already have. He’s not saying only the wealthy should have children.

                    • He’s not saying only the wealthy should have children.

                      No, he’s not. He’s more subtle than openly stating such an abhorrent thing.

                      But that would be the consequence of his previous statements.

                    • However they shouldn’t expect to have the State pick up the slack when they have much more (5) they they can afford on their own.

                      So, Gosman. Would you care to tell us who paid for your primary school and high school education?

                      Any trips to the hospital when you were a child?

                      Driven on any roads when you were a kid?

                      Perhaps a friendly policeman or policewoman held your hand when you were lost, and walked you home? (Or, even more cool, a ride in a real policecar!!)

                      It’s amazing the things the State paid for – which kind of explains why New Zealand is a First World nation, and not a Third World state bereft of infra-structure and critical social services.

                • Mike in Auckland says:

                  Gosman, you seem to suggest every individual must file an application with the state, before engaging in reproductive activities, as they may end up with off spring that may one day cost the state money.

                  Did your parents ask the state before they had you, and where is the account that qualifies you to live, with a cost benefit analysis, thank you. I am only asking for this, as that seems to be your modus operandi and sense of judgment in life.

        • Andrea says:

          Oh Gosman – tell that to Bill English! HE has SIX children. SIX! And we, the tax-payers of NZ, are paying for them and their accommodation, one way or another.

          Why six? I put it down to religion, meself. There’s a lot you can blame on those patriarchal, out-breed the bunnies religions. ‘Every sperm is sacred…’

          “People shouldn’t expect all their extra living costs around having extra children will be picked up by the State.” However, when the State (aka some bunch of troughing politicians) wants to give indirect welfare to stingy employers by topping up inadequate wages – why say ‘No’?

          You’d think we’d learn – tax cuts, Working for Families, the old Family Benefit and the State Advances loans at helluva reasonable rates for years’n’years for those mythic ‘hard-working, fast-breeding families’ – only to take it all away on the grounds of ‘hard times’.

          And then the moderately fecund start in with the moaning and complaining and carrying on: ‘It’s disgusting! They shouldn’t have so many if they can’t afford it because we’ve changed the rules – yet again’.

          Makes you laugh, eh?

          • Gosman says:

            Ummm… Bill English as a job that WE can decide to terminate at any time by not voting for his political party. He hasn’t to my knowledge demanded more money that other MP’s6because ge has more children. I very much doubt he ever received working for families.

            • Really, Gosman? Do you know why English has earned the nick-name “Double Dipper from Dipton”?

              Mr English has been at the centre of the housing allowance storm since it was revealed he was being paid about $900 a week to live in his own family home in Wellington.

              That is almost double the amount ordinary out-of-town MPs can claim on Wellington accommodaiton.

              While it was well within the rules for Mr English to claim the new amount when he became a minister, his housing circumstances had not changed, he had had a hefty pay increase, and he is preaching restraint to the rest of the country.

              ref: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10588814

              You seem to be promoting a sense of entitlement for those who are already wealthy, and blaming those at the bottom for not earning enough. That, I submit, is ACT philosophy distilled to its essence.

              • Gosman says:

                ScarlettMod are you able to advise why many of my replies aren’t appearing?

                [ I have not deleted any of your comments, Gosman. Some have been queued since the afternoon when I got home with the kids. – Scarletmod]

                • Mike in Auckland says:

                  Gosh, a FTT, Full Time Troll, posting so many comments, Scarlet cannot keep up with it.

                  Take a break, Gossie, have a cuppa, you are getting stressed out.

          • Ana says:

            And here of course it would be interesting to hear Bill english’s solution because so often the right head for the “why do they have so many children”, Bill, being a practicing Catholic and anti-abortion (and very probably contraception) wont really be able to head down that path. I really would like to hear his attempts to spin this.

  3. Otto Mann says:

    I don’t think we can afford any more of National’s “Brighter Future”. It’s getting tooooo expensive!

    • CLEANGREEN says:

      “Planet Keyenglish” coming to town soon, with this “twerp” he is another “trader” and seller of all our assets like the last one was.

      These creeps need to go before the country crumbles, and we are left as just “tenant’s I our own land”

  4. countryboy says:

    This is the kind of story that makes me want to go all Jungle on a Brother.

    The saddest and most frustrating thing in this dreadful story is that Sam and Maria have lost sight of their right and obligation to fight. They pawn their dignity and bend over while scum bags fuck them without the kissing but will they ask for help to rampage? To get furious! To march and smash and burn! To tell them… fuck this and fuck you! Loan sharks for basics! In NZ ! You have got to be fucking kidding me!
    For Christs sake guys ! Stand up for yourselves.
    Where’s leather faced English right now ? Go and find him. Get him by the scruff of the neck and kick his arse.

    • bert says:

      “Where’s leather faced English right now ? Go and find him. Get him by the scruff of the neck and kick his arse”

      Doing more important things for the country, like, shearing sheep for the media.

  5. elle says:

    Maybe English would pay Countdown to make their carparks bigger to house more cars overnight for all the homeless families to live in.

  6. jay says:

    The bloke is a total zombie horror staggering forward mouthing “tax cuts” “tax cuts” “tax cuts” Go f*ck yourselves greedies and vote this deadbeat back in! 🙁 The poor? just zombie fodder!

  7. Takere says:

    Try that by being single male parent with one child.The Nazi’s at WINZ hate men! You’re discriminated against purely because of you’re gender!
    HNZ, well, at the moment. They’re showing more initiative than WINZ are.

    9th Week living in a Motel!

  8. Mike in Auckland says:

    This is a great, revealing post, presenting just one of many such cases!

    Let us also talk straight re the much repeated refrain, that the Nats have annually increased benefits to “inflation adjust” incomes of those on benefits.

    Even the useless MSM have NO clue about the truth when it comes to living on a benefit.

    For instance only the base or core benefit (Jobseeker, Sole Parent or Supported Living Payment benefit) ever gets inflation adjusted, the supplements for accommodation, for disability and so forth have not bee increased for ages, and are NOT inflation adjusted.

    Bring in abatement regimes, and only the main or core benefit (Jobseeker, Sole Parent, SLP benefit) is not affected by extra income earned per week (up to a certain amount like eighty or a hundred bucks). Any income earned on top of a benefit is likely to lead to reductions of supplements, e.g. the Accommodation Supplement.

    So few people end up “better off” when working part time, and not even when working full time, as this example shows.

    Once a certain threshold is reached, that is hours worked or income earned, the market rents set in for state or social housing.

    We are keeping tens of thousands of poor people debt laden up to their eyeballs, and they are forced to go round and round in circles, but this complex and punitive system we have, it is not only misunderstood by the MSM, I bet Bill English himself does not understand the system his public servants are having to administer.

    Welcome to a Kafkaesque society within the nation called NZ Inc.!

    • Susan says:

      Kafkaesque indeed. Through into their story complications of a sick child or redundancy. We have torn up the safety net