Friday, July 17, 2009

Using the recession to do nothing

I feared this would happen. That National would use the recession to do nothing about reforming welfare, the DPB in particular.

According to the DomPost;
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said the rise in numbers on the DPB was a reflection of the job market.
Correct in part but not to the exclusion of anything else.

Bennett implies that the 8,000 increase from June 08 to June 09 is primarily about women losing their jobs. Some, yes. But it is more complex than that.

Or is she actually admitting that when jobs are harder to come by women get pregnant to get on welfare? Or that people break up relationships so they can claim both dole and DPB? I don't think she is.

In 2008 over 6,200 first-time mothers with babies under 12 months old were granted the DPB. 55 percent were Maori and Pacific. A third were NZ European.

An important reason why the DPB is growing again is increased fertility rates, especially among the young. Throw in, as well, increasing ex-nuptial births, now approaching half of all births.

If the job market is the most important influence on DPB numbers why, during a period of very low unemployment, did DPB numbers shown relatively little change? The total caseload has averaged around 105,000 for the past decade, with a low of 96,000 and a high of 109,000. It is currently at 104,400. If the job market is the most important influence on DPB numbers then this is as good as it gets.
But she was confident that once the job market had improved, numbers on the DPB would drop again.
Not necessarily. Young mothers entering the system stay the longest. Until National gets a grip on that fact and decides to do something about it, a high DPB toll is here to stay.

I have said it before - the DPB is institutionalised. Numbers on it are affected by more factors than the job market. But if those other factors are not acknowledged, what chance they will ever be addressed?

Finally ask yourself this. If a single mother has been in work and loses her job, why doesn't she receive the unemployment benefit? Why isn't she subject to the same conditions as other unemployed people? There is less pressure to work when on the DPB. That's why. And that is another reason why the Minister's optimism that the numbers will soon drop again is misplaced.

5 comments:

Angus said...

Hi Lindsay,
I believe the total cost of social security and welfare is now about $21 billion.

Do you know off hand the breakdown of that figure, in terms of how much of it is super, DPB, dole etc ?

Lindsay said...

http://www.treasury.govt.nz/budget/forecasts/befu2009/080.htm

Download befu09 for breakdown. Remember that people receiving DPB are also getting other top-ups like accommodation supplement and family tax credits, etc

Manolo said...

The Minister's optimism is misplaced.
In fact, it reflect the weakness of the National Party, and its undeniable appeasing trait.

Do not rock the boat, "she'll be right", go with the flow, is what Bennett seems to be saying.

kiwipolemicist said...

Lindsay, this might interest you:

Govt makes it harder for beneficiaries to get off the benefit

Shane Pleasance said...

Morning Lindsay. I found the other day a brief tutorial on how to post links (using copy and pasted html with own dated replacing link). I note you comment above with the link getting a little lost. Cant find that tutorial now, but FYI. Keep up the great work, thank you Lindsay.