But I said it was more like double that because people had repeated stays and he was only counting each individual stay. A fair bit of correspondence passed between us. In 2003 I took my calculations before the select committee which was debating removing work tests on the DPB. That generated the following news report;
April 4, Page 2, Dominion
Public misled on DPB - campaigner
By David McLoughlin
The length of time the average sole parent spends on the domestic purposes benefit could be almost double the official 3.7 years.
This is because thousands of sole parents go off, and then back on to, the DPB, but each period drawing the benefit is counted separately rather than cumulatively.
Wellington woman Lindsay Mitchell, who is campaigning for a select committee review of the benefit, calculates from official data that shows how many times sole parents have drawn the DPB that the average real time spent on it is 6.5 years.
Mrs Mitchell, of Eastbourne, obtained Social Development Ministry data on how many people currently drawing the DPB had been on it previously. She found that 25,058 of the current 101,000 paid the sole parent DPB had drawn on it once before, 11,493 had drawn it twice, 5043 three times and 3663 for or more times previously.
With the help of her husband David, who formerly worked for Statistics New Zealand, she calculated the 6.5 years average from the number of times each sole parent has drawn the DPB.
She was critical yesterday of politicians, including Social Services Minister Steve Maharey, as well as the news media, for continuing to repeat the 3.7 years when it was "misleading".
Yesterday I was reading a new report
Sole parenting in New Zealand: An update on key trends and what helps reduce disadvantagesnuck onto the MSD website with no corresponding media release. Here is what it says;
... when the benefit histories of all New Zealand sole parents receiving benefits at June 2008 are examined, half appear to have become parents before age 23, and the median share of time spent on benefits in the previous 10 years (or a shorter period in the case of younger groups) is 83 percent (mean: 72 percent).
The mean time spent on the DPB in the last ten years is 72 percent or 7.2 years. By my crude method I calculated a minimum figure of 65 percent (or 6 and a half years) over a similar period, assuming the data MSD gave me in 2002 extended back to 1993, the limitation of their benefit history at that time.
I suppose an apology from Mr Maharey, now Vice Chancellor of Massey University where he is probably continuing to infect young minds with socialist propaganda, would be too much to expect.