Saturday, January 19, 2013

Bennett over-egging success of new policy

Further to my last post questioning the drop in sole parents on the DPB, I remain very sceptical about the spin being put on this. Here's why.

Yesterday's NZ Herald headline was:

Bennett trumpets 5000 fewer on DPB 

"The number of sole parents on the domestic purposes benefit dropped by 5000 last year - a drop Social Development Minister Paula Bennett is attributing partly to her new policy requiring sole parents to get jobs when their youngest child turns five...Figures released yesterday showed there were 95,138 sole parents on the DPB at the end of 2012 - down from 100,266 the year before."
Nowhere in the article does it mention that some of the decrease is down to 18 and 19 year-olds being moved onto the Young Parent Payment. I've had that confirmed by a spokesperson from MSD:
The number of sole parents receiving DPB reduced by around 5,000 in 2012; this includes around 1,000 18 and 19-year-olds who transferred to YPP in August.
Bear in mind that for the last quarter no new 18 year-olds could have gone onto the DPB either. Back to the NZ Herald:
More than half of that drop happened in the last three months of the year, after the introduction of Ms Bennett's policy required sole parents to get part-time work when their youngest child turned five and fulltime work for those whose children were older than 14. Ms Bennett said 3221 sole parents had returned to work since that came into force in October.
Now I am going to get quite technical and pedantic here. 5,000 over the year is a net loss. The difference between those who went on and those who went off. So to claim that "more than half of that drop happened in the last three months" is a nonsense.

Typically an average of 13,000 people will leave the DPB each year because they "obtained work". These are the figures for the financial years 2007/08 forward:

Obtained paid work 16,223 14,755 11,706 10,714 12,834

So there is nothing remarkable about 3200 finding work in one quarter.

The numbers of sole parents on the DPB (which excludes carers of the sick and infirm, woman alone and those on the emergency maintenance allowance) for the years 2007-2011:

Domestic Purposes Benefit – Sole Parent 87,601 86,695 93,404 99,284 99,945

A return to 95,000 is a good thing. But to be expected as we moved out of recession.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fair comments, Lindsay.

What will be really interesting is the trend in the next couple of years or so.
*That* should give a much clearer picture of things.

I'd like to see the Nats aim to get the DPB figures below 80,000 by late 2014.
Difficult, but if done, that would be a great start to getting rid of this benefit (which more often than not traps people rather than helping them).

I *wish* they'd get rid of WFF too. That should have been the first thing they did when re-elected. Fat chance of it happening now.