Green MP Jan Logie says the government is "forcing" beneficiaries into debt to MSD.
"Nearly 60 percent of all beneficiaries – 171,000 people – now have a debt to WINZ, of an average of nearly $2500 each. Before National was elected in 2008, just 49 per cent of beneficiaries had a debt to WINZ, and it was closer to $2000."
For starters "average" debt is not useful term. MSD explained why in a letter to me providing data on debt,
"The average amount owed does not provide an accurate picture of the majority of clients who have a debt to Work and income. This is because the average is distorted by a few large amounts owed by a small number of people. A more accurate picture of the 'average' value of debt is shown by the median value. As at the end of November 2005, the median value of debt owed to Work and Income was $501.82 per client."
So the Green figures exaggerate individual debt. Typical.
In any case, the straight forward solution would be not to extend any repayable assistance to beneficiaries. Is that what beneficiaries want? I very much doubt it.
Logie says that benefits are not enough to heat a house or buy good food. Yet when the lowest income people are surveyed, fewer than a third say they don't have enough money.
I get sick and tired of the Greens talking up poverty and debt for cynical self-serving reasons.