Progress on welfare reform “unjustifiably slow” – Child Poverty Action Group

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Child advocates are dismayed by the lack of progress in welfare reform since government-appointed experts recommended a complete overhaul nearly two years ago.
None of the 42 key recommendations made by the Welfare Expert Advisory Group (WEAG) in February 2019 have been fully implemented, according to a stocktake released today [MONDAY 30 NOV] by the Child Poverty Action Group. Of the 126 detailed recommendations, only 4 (3%) have been found to be fully implemented.
“The government says it wants welfare reform to enable people to live in dignity with adequate incomes, and it asked WEAG for a plan to achieve this,” says stocktake co-author Innes Asher, who served on WEAG. “But so far the government has delivered remarkably little of that plan.”
Seven of WEAG’s key recommendations have been “partially” implemented and a further 12 “minimally” implemented. For more than half (23) of the key recommendations, the researchers found no evidence of any implementation at all.
“Given WEAG found that people receiving benefits are living ‘desperate lives’ on ‘seriously inadequate incomes’, the progress on implementation appears unjustifiably slow,” says co-author Caitlin Neuwelt-Kearns.
The researchers note that while preparations for further action may be happening behind closed doors, the government has not publicly committed to many further specific WEAG responses, apart from a 2020 election promise to let people earn more in paid work before their benefit starts reducing.
“Children cannot wait – their minds, emotions, bodies are constantly developing and this development can be affected by chronic stress and lack of essentials,” says Prof Asher.
“Fixing welfare is long overdue, and the government has now been sitting on the blueprint for essential work for nearly two years. We need to turn the vision into reality with urgency.”

17 COMMENTS

  1. These kind of stats are akin to Robert Mugabe telling the world he was a kind and inclusive leader, then showing stats to allegedly prove that.

    Certain people can cherry-pick any stats they choose to sell the message they are pushing. Ardern is the first to tell you that there is still much to do with child poverty. as there is with a long list of other issues NZ is facing.

    Over the 9 treasonous years of National’s farcical rock star economy, a new NZ was created. A divisive NZ that viewed everyone doing it hard as the feral enemy that was hindering the progress and enormous profits of successful “hard-working businesses”. The answer to every problem NZ ever had was to open the immigration floodgates to China and India. The NZ housing market was opened up and promoted to offshore Asian investors and we’ve seen the devastating impact of that on so many young NZ families. The National Government treated our nurses with absolute contempt and then replaced thousands of them with new, New Zealanders who were just so grateful to live and work in NZ that they would be the last people to complain about pay and conditions. How quickly did that change after the 2017 election day?

    The damage done to our beautiful country was substantial and will take years if not decades to put right. Bill English farcically only discovered NZ child poverty in the final days leading up to the 2017 election.

    We now have an epic “to-do” list that has been significantly hindered by an unprecedented massacre, a volcanic eruption, a coalition partner threatening to bring the Government down, and of course, a pandemic.

    I equate the present situation being akin to the Government performing as ambulance drivers racing from one crisis to another. On the sidelines, we have a growing number of Ardern haters throwing rocks at the ambulances every step of the way accusing them of not driving fast enough and of being the villains. Meanwhile, National, the architects of the crisis are being gifted a free pass and are laughing and rubbing their hands with glee. I’m sure they will be thrilled with the narrative being pushed every day now by The Daily Blog etc. Perhaps they may even send you some vile tasting “new” Roses chocolates for your efforts.

    • Jacindafan: “Over the 9 treasonous years of National’s farcical rock star economy, a new NZ was created.”

      It’s important to be clear-eyed about this. The problem with inequality predates the previous government by many, many years. Rogernomics began it all, as those of who were around remember all too well.

      It was a National government which implemented the swingeing benefit cuts in the early 90s. That’s when the serious troubles began, and things haven’t got better. The Clark government ought to have raised benefit levels again, but – being irredeemably neoliberal – did not.

      So here we are: a truly desperate situation for the very poorest. In 2017, I voted Labour (despite my misgivings about Ardern) because she promised to do something substantive about poverty in general, child poverty in particular.

      A wasted vote, as it turned out. She never intended to do any of that stuff. I might as well have voted ACT at that election: at least Seymour’s honest about his intentions.

      So: Labour didn’t get my vote this year. ACT did, though.

      • D’Esterre,

        Happy to acknowledge that I should have used the word “exacerbated” rather than “created”. National’s 9 years sped the process up considerably and changed NZ forever. Not only did they divisively do this, but they also did it with total indifference and complete arrogance.

        That aside, you mocking the extremely empathetic Minister in charge of reducing child poverty later in this thread clearly highlights the position you speak from. You must have been ever so proud of the Dipton Double Dipper that he on behalf of the then National Party Government finally discovered in September 2017 that there was child poverty in NZ. I’m sure it was just a coincidence he discovered it just a few days before election day despite the flood of devastating statistics they were presented with month after month.

        • Jacindafan: “You must have been ever so proud of the Dipton Double Dipper that he on behalf of the then National Party Government finally discovered in September 2017 that there was child poverty in NZ.”

          Now here’s a puzzle. How on earth do you get from my taking the richly-deserved piss out of the PM to my supporting Bill English? I can’t figure that at all.

          Did I not say that I voted Labour at the 2017 election, just because Ardern had promised to do something substantive about child poverty?

          Did you actually read and understand my previous comment? It seems not.

  2. What concerns me is the billion handed out to many businesses to help them during the pandemic. (covid) These corporate businesses have posted huge profits so it seems morally wrong that one group got so much money from our government and are not paying it back. In fact this is pure greed and unfair to prop these businesses up and not want to give more money to struggling families. This is corporate welfare no wonder we have so much inequalities in our country.

  3. Listening to Jacinda on the National station this morning she seems she is convinced that Labour has really looked after those on a benefit. She listed all,the extras they have received but fails to take the increase in rents and power and some food lines. What is the point in having review if the recommendations are not followed at all.
    .

  4. This was a text sent to RNZ this morning:
    “I am single living with a chronic illness in a car on a benefit.
    The WEAG report recommended a $129pw increase in my benefit in order to make ends meet. Yes I did receive $25pw on 1 April this year but it is of no practical assistance.
    The $100pw shortfall will finally get addressed next year when I turn 65 and get the higher rate one gets on superannuation. It is a sad predicament to be in. “

    • Susan St John,

      I do feel sympathy for the person that contacted you about their diabolical situation…..but

      Having said that, despite the person’s situation, they are still with their chronic illness while living in their car at 65 able to email you about WEAG reports etc. Perhaps they could use their access to the internet and understanding of figures and reports etc to assist in resolving at least some of their own plight. We live in a time where anyone who dares to question the veracity of such communications is quickly accused of victim-blaming. We’ve seen these kinds of alleged “anecdotal” communications previously and it turned out the writer was not living in their vehicle at all. They could be a long term alcoholic who has been the architect of every wrong turn made in their life but wants to blame others for the position they keep finding themselves in. Who knows, the writer could be a National Party MP playing their part in the water on the stone campaign waged every week for the previous 3 years. There are a huge number of motivated “Merv’s” out there.

      Have you noticed how many kiwis have been putting their hands up for fruit picking? S.F.A
      I certainly wouldn’t want that sort of employment myself but if my circumstances were desperate enough, I’d do it in a heartbeat. Try increasing benefits by $129 a week and you’d find a huge part of the workforce would resent and despise those on benefits and question why they’d even get out of bed to go to work themselves. Just stay on the benefit and hold your hand out. Where is the motivation for many of them to even get a job? We pay an enormous amount of tax in our home every week of every month of every year. As a hard-working taxpayer with a good understanding of the need for taxation, I on behalf of my family vote down increasing benefits by $129 a week……unless a magician can magic up an endless amount of dosh from somewhere else other than from the long-suffering workforce taxpayer.

      • “I do feel sympathy for the person that contacted you about their diabolical situation…..but

        Having said that, despite the person’s situation, they are still with their chronic illness while living in their car at 65 able to email you about WEAG reports etc. Perhaps they could use their access to the internet and understanding of figures and reports etc to assist in resolving at least some of their own plight. ”

        Are you serious?

        Shame on you Jacindafan. Go check your privilege…

        • Rosemary McDonald,

          Zero privilege and zero shame. Just a very healthy dose of reality that is clearly absent from your logic.

          You do understand where the bulk of the funding for benefits comes from? The minimum wage for some of NZ’s hardest workers has finally started to head in the right direction but still well south of the $22.10 an hour living wage. Despite that fact, when the minimum wage increases in small increments the business community bleat loudly that the sky is falling. How do you think salary earners etc will feel about benefits increasing by $129 a week when they themselves are likely already struggling?

          We have many thousands of able people on benefits yet we have to import a workforce to do the work that at least some of them could be doing. We don’t have to look far to see who the entitled and privileged are in many cases. I very happily support people on benefits but I refuse to condone large benefit increases when so many of us not on benefits are struggling. I will be genuinely surprised if my own business is still solvent at the end of this financial year. I’ve taken out the wage subsidy for my employees and also accessed the Government business loan which I have partly used to pay my staff’s salaries. Without that, we would already be in insolvency. I’m finding these relentless calls to increase benefits bordering on cringe-worthy at this time. When this occurs with those that strongly support the Government, how do you think it will go down with those that despise the Government?

          Beneficiaries are not the only people out there battling. That fact is lost on some. Beneficiaries should be paid more especially when you consider the cost of living in NZ. Our lower end workforce should also be paid much more. The balance is wrong and if we “gift” beneficiaries a substantial increase at this time while paying low-income workers peanuts, we will create an even bigger imbalance.

          • Your mate, your heroine, would be shocked at your seeming lack of empathy. Where is the kindness, eh?

            Clearly you or any one close to you have ever been in the position of not being able to support themselves through paid employment.

            What about those how cannot work through illness, disability or having to care full time for someone with an illness or disability?
            Its all very well Jacinda and Carmel and Paula and Bill and all the other politicians (of all hues) banging on ad fucking nauseum about how work will set the poor free…but every last single one of them has chosen to willfully and maliciously to ignore those who simply cannot work.
            What was that about judging a society on how they treat their most vulnerable?
            Again…check your privilege…here, this might help…
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hD5f8GuNuGQ

            • Rosemary McDonald,

              Your assumptions about my own journey are light years from reality. I was in the front row when the nauseating Jenny Shipley announced benefit cuts in the days leading up to Christmas 1991 despite the cuts not coming into effect until April 1st, 1992. She justified this by stating beneficiaries needed as much lead-in time as possible to adust their expenditure bla bla bla. Those on benefits saw that for exactly what it was. Horseshit. The timing was designed as a raw meat Christmas gift for National Party supporters who despise beneficiaries as the feral enemy.

              I knew of two single mums in my own circle who would not shop at the supermarket on benefit days just so they could avoid judgmental eyes. I also recall another single mum who had two neighbours who would ring Social Welfare / Winz if a man ever stayed the night at her home.

              I knew a guy that had broken his back but was still threatened by WINZ to have his benefit cut if he failed to attend meetings designed to get people into work.

              I’m sincerely sympathetic toward all beneficiaries.

              You’ll note that in my previous message I spoke of there being at least “some” able people on benefits that could take up fruit picking rather than having to import a workforce from offshore to do the work with all that entails. Even blind Freddy can see and understand that many on benefits would never be able enough to tackle demanding work. I’m not suggesting for a moment they could or should.

              Something rotten in Denmark when we have to import hundreds of Russian fisherman including some with Covid because NZ with it’s vast coastline doesn’t have any qualified deep-sea fisherman…..then at the other end, we don’t have enough unqualified fruit pickers.

      • Jacindafan: “I do feel sympathy for the person that contacted you about their diabolical situation…..but”

        I must say that your entire comment (not just the bit above) sounds exactly like what I’ve heard over and over from sundry neoliberals.

        Yet I’m sure that I recall you saying that you’re opposed to neoliberalism: hence you being a fan of Ardern.

        • D’Esterre,

          I couldn’t give a fuck what you think my views are or aren’t on neoliberalism or your pathetic judgments on why I’m a fan of Ardern. You wouldn’t know if your arse was on fire.

          I’m a strong supporter / fan of Ardern. My support for her has zero to do with the Labour Party or those around her or a political ethos. My support for her is strong but not unconditional.

          • Jacindafan: “I couldn’t give a fuck what you think my views are or aren’t on neoliberalism or your pathetic judgments on why I’m a fan of Ardern. You wouldn’t know if your arse was on fire.”

            So: no countervailing argument, then: just insults?

            As to your views on neoliberalism, I’m sure that I recall comments from you in which you expressed opposition to it. Hence your dislike of the previous government.

            “My support for her has zero to do with the Labour Party or those around her or a political ethos.”

            If you say so.

            But your nom is “Jacindafan”. It’s admittedly a bit of a puzzle to me and others why you’d support her for reasons other than politics. What else is there?

            Then there’s your comments above. I wouldn’t disagree that the working poor have it very tough in NZ. I remember during the 90s, agitation for a low wage economy because, advocates believed, it would raise productivity.

            So now we have just that, and it’s been a colossal failure regarding productivity. As many of us predicted back then.

            But it doesn’t follow that benefits should be at can’t-live-on levels. Yes, there’ll be freeloaders: there always are. But many of the very poorest are in the situation because of circumstances beyond their control. My own childhood family was one such.

            And it’s never children’s fault.

            I proffer the observation that raising benefit levels will push up incomes generally. Including for businesses such as ours. More money going round in the economy. As an old friend used to say: money’s made round to go round. Heh!

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