Salvation Army Report highlights hidden Covid Poverty 


Salvation Army calls for ‘brave policy action’ to stem increasing inequality

The Covid-19 pandemic could exacerbate “unacceptable” levels of poverty and inequity in New Zealand, the Salvation Army has warned.

In its latest State of the Nation report, the Salvation Army said the “rapid increase” in 2020 of the number of children living in benefit-dependent households – up by 23,000 – is a sign child poverty rates may not decline but increase.

Official statistics released last year, for the year ended June 2019, showed some improvement in child poverty rates across seven of the nine measures.

However, Stats NZ said at the time the changes were not statistically significant.

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Whenever there is a news report from a poverty group, the Minister asks their Ministry if poverty is as bad as the food banks suggests. The Ministry tallies their numbers and those numbers always suggest a modest half baby step in the direction the Government has set. The Minister responds with empty words about blah blah blah and the story sinks until it pops up again in the wake of the latest NGO press release claiming terrible inequality.

What the Minister and the Ministry fail to appreciate is the far darker reality behind their numbers.

MSD & WINZ are so universally toxic and despised by the beneficiaries who are forced to interact with them that desperate people would prefer to chew broken glass than walk into a WINZ office. These agencies who take spiteful glee in punishing and penalising beneficiaries creates a desire to avoid them with something closely resembling  rich white people at a restaurant with an openly convulsing Ebola victim projectile vomiting contaminated blood.

The fear of the State keeps the desperate from interacting with them because the State has purposely constructed obtuse and draconian welfare policy to act as a deterrent to all but the most incapacitated people.

Anything less than a Mad Max dystopian contagious cancer spreading while the WINZ watches inspects you naked gets nothing but contempt.

Plus interest rates on any ‘welfare fraud’ caused by MSD relationship trap rules.

These dynamics will only get more intense as the gig economy generation are cut to the bone by ever shrinking gigs.

The fear of these neoliberal welfare agencies stops people from seeking help while masking the problems so the Government doesn’t have to investigate or react.

The only way through this is a doubling of the welfare payment because at the very least, that welfare payment will force WINZ and MSD to hand out cash no matter how difficult they make the process.

According to Bloomberg Covid is with us for at least 7 more years and the economy is looking like it’s topped out, with fears of inflation causing a cascade debt crash surely the time to start getting serious about welfare before a flood of people need it is urgently required.


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  1. Jacinda makes a big display of caring for the children of the Isis bride but now shows little care for the 1 in 5 children here in NZ suffering poverty.

  2. WINZ & MSD are anyones worst nightmare–which is why the Govt. quickly instituted a “COVID Benefit” of $490pw, and ok for partner to be working. And yes, you could have relationships, friendships and visitors with no penalty or moralistic harassment!

    The Govt. knew damn well the reaction they would have got if thousands of “WINZ virgins” suddenly had to interact with sadistic case managers, a heartless bureaucracy, and pitiful benefit levels.

    Beneficiaries were successfully “othered” and demonised from the mid 80s and in the 90s particularly by Labour and National Governments. The Shipley admin ran “dob in a bludger” ads on TV even. Junior Stasi territory–spy on your neighbours.

    So, what is to be done? Minister Sepuloni is clearly captured by her ministry, and the Caucus would not let her make all the top officials reapply for their own jobs, or enforce the Act rather than punitive branch policy anyway. Ex Labour MP Sue Moroney is vocal on CGT, and scores of prominent Labour loyalists are slipping their collars and calling for this unprecedented majority MMP Govt to act now.

    My plan which I have been pushing since the pre Xmas “letter to Jacinda” from 70 plus NGOs, is that the NGO sector, including the NZ Council of Trade Unions, form an extra Parliamentary opposition and run community organising campaigns which include appropriate direct action. Action that would include Climate Strikes, occupation of selected houses and buildings by homeless, pickets of MSD offices, vigorous pickets of appearances by Labour Ministers, delegations to new Labour MPs. Emily Henderson’s maiden speech was critical of Rogernomics and the social fallout she has seen as a family legal practitioner. Do Labour listen to the focus groups as Chris Trotter suggests, or can we make them listen to the NZ working class?

    TDB commenters have got the problems down–but what about some solutions before 2023?

  3. Unfortunately life is going to get a lot worse for those at the bottom and in the middle of the social-financial pyramid over the coming months, as energy prices, food prices and insurance costs etc. rise.

    That said, people in NZ are very fortunate compared to most others on this planet. The fragility of civilisation has been vividly demonstrated in the ‘greatest state of the greatest nation on Earth’.

    ‘Millions of Americans are without power Wednesday morning as winter storms and freezing temperatures batter the country. At least 20 people are dead due to weather-related incidents. As for Texas, the state with the most power outages, millions are still without power heading into the fourth day.

    Bloomberg makes an interesting inquiry into the blackout’s actual size across Texas in recent days. Considering utility companies count outages by “customers” and not actual people – the real number could be north of 15 million people who have been plunged into darkness amid frigid temperatures.

    Texas power grid operator ERCOT, which manages 90% of the state’s electric load, serving more than 26 million customers, was forced to cut power to millions of customers as Arctic air spilled into the state, freezing wellheads that impeded the flow of natgas to power stations, triggering electric shortages as demand overwhelmed the grid.’

    Not there when you need it the most.

  4. Well said Martyn.

    Anyone who thinks otherwise, ask yourself why does your small town have so many homeless. Why are so many people willing to live on the streets rather than ask for help.

    WINZ and MSD are full of people with an belief they are the definers of the deserving and undeserving poor. The last line of defense against a group of people who are lazy and the creators of their own misery’s. And as such they fell they can treat them any way they like, which is somthing less than human.

    • Yep, many middle class people have no idea, or if they do are in denial, or actively hate poor people. In Whangarei, Northland, there are several hundred obvious homeless, and many in garages, caravans, vehicles and shacks. Yet in 2020 the middle class of Maunu suburb raised $60 grand for legal fees to try and stop 37 state houses being built in the suburb!

      Just complying with WINZ/MSD requirements is beyond many–you have to have to maintain an internet capable phone with minutes on it at all times! You have to attend all meetings on pain of being cut off etc. which in a provincial setting with minimal public transport is often difficult, AND people have to try and exist–live is not possible–on the pittance level of benefits.

  5. Build back better obviously does not include the many at the arse end of neoliberal capitalism and utter degradation but it was those soothing words from a neoliberal Labour leader that was not meant to engender hope for those who are living with abject poverty but a panacea to make the wealthy property owners and middle class feel better when they hear of the tales of deprivation that only make the news in a ten second play for publicity.
    Adern and Robertson will be like Key, English and Joyce before her mouth sweet nothings about how truly awful it all is and then do fuck all.
    Until there is a new movement Bomber you are going to continue highlighting these cruelties and the message will fall on deaf ears.
    Tough drastic action is needed but it won’t be addressed under the current Social Democrat pretend socialists.

  6. Nobody has ever called the Salvation Army toxic or despised – unlike some government departments.

    If there is a community organisation who the whole country knows to be trustworthy, the Salvation Army is
    one such organisation – unlike some government departments.

    If any of us ever hit rock bottom, we know that the Salvation Army will be there to help us up again – unlike the government of this country.

    When officers of the Salvation Army retire, they derive no income whatsoever from having served in that army – unlike members of government, including totally useless, toxic or despised members of the New Zealand government whose posturing as the servants of the people who pay them, can provide them with a life lived at levels beyond the dreams or hopes or even knowledge, of far too many of the people.

    When members of government block their ears against the voice of the Salvation Army, they lose the right to describe themselves as kind, or even as decent, and when they profess to care about the children of the poor, they simply substitute action with words flying – smiling- in the air – to be blown off by the Wellington winds.

    Government has to do much more than smile and flap their arms around. They have to respond to what the Sallies show is happening in the community, and stop hiding behind their own officials like spineless hypocrites.

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