Friday, August 07, 2020

Another graphic illustration of Labour's achievements

Another graphic illustration of Labour's achievements, the Housing Register, previously known as the state house waiting list:

Thursday, August 06, 2020

Have a baby every three years and you'll never have to get a job

National's 'subsequent child' policy said a woman who has another baby on welfare would still have work obligations when that child turns one. It wasn't discouraging the habit though because seven years after implementation (in 2019) 6,000 babies were still  being born onto an existing benefit.

But a war isn't abandoned just because a battle is lost.  You mount another battle, a different strategy.

Not this government. They simply surrendered, held up a white flag saying, "Have a baby every three years and you'll never have to get a job."

Labour says this is 'kind' to mothers who should not be expected to work in the first 1,000 days of their babies life. A luxury denied to mothers who return to work to pay mortgages and taxes. Stuff reported:

ACT employment spokeswoman Nicole McKee, who is a candidate for the party outside Parliament, said Labour was “promoting welfare as a lifestyle option and will harm kids in benefit-dependent households”.

“Many couples wait to start families in order to ensure they can afford to feed, clothe, house and support their children. Those couples who wait and plan are being forced to subsidise those whose lifestyle is dependent on welfare,” she said.

But consider this also. 

Children born in 2010, whose caregiver spent more than 80% of their next five years on a benefit, would be 38 times more likely to experience maltreatment by age two than those with no benefit history. 

This 'kick-start' sends children off on a downward spiral. 

Most of the mothers having babies on welfare are 'single' and disproportionately Maori.

Thanks to  Sensible Sentencing Trust research into the sentencing notes of 100 male offenders over 18 who have committed serious crimes- Murder, Manslaughter, Rape, Sexual Assault - we now know that most were brought up by a single mother or had migrated into the care of grandparents or OT.

The Labour/Green ideology does not value stable two-parent families despite eons of evidence proving they are good for children.

It appals me that not only do they blindfold themselves to the facts but barge off pigheadedly in the opposite direction. And the Children's Commissioner support for this latest move utterly dismays.


Wednesday, August 05, 2020

The unrepresentative unemployment rate

According to Statistics NZ the June quarter unemployment rate dropped to 4%

These figures are derived from a 15,000 household survey and extrapolated.

ACTUAL numbers on the combined Jobseeker benefit and Covid Income Relief Payment at July 24, 2020 are 212,397.

A couple of reasons the numbers are so different are:

1/ Someone working just a few hours is not defined as 'unemployed' in the survey but can qualify for the Jobseeker benefit

2/ Someone who has been made redundant and receiving the Covid Income Relief Payment temporarily might not be looking for work right so is also not defined as 'unemployed' in the survey.

Then there is the not inconsequential matter of the 452,425 currently employed on a wage subsidy...

Exceptional turn out for ACT's Wellington launch

I've been around ACT for a long time. If anything convinces me the momentum building in the polls is real, the turn-out at the Wellington launch last night did. It was also an unusually young crowd for ACT. I talked to a young women who'd driven down from Wanganui with her partner who hadn't even been born when I first took an interest in the party. 

The highlight for me was 27 year-old Brooke van Velden. I'd never met her or heard her speak and she impressed me immensely. Quietly spoken, just the right measure of emotion, compelling content and an easy presence, she strikes me as a safe pair of hands. And David Seymour has come a long way from the youth wing of ACT. He's an accomplished, quick and entertaining speaker handling audience questions with candour and good humour.

Just a brief report as I can find no other in the media although I believe some journalists were in attendance.

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

ACT supporters "sceptical about the state generally"

Apparently, a Stuff-Massey University survey of voters showed:

ACT voters, for instance, while saying that they felt safe in their own neighbourhood, were more likely to say the police were not doing a good job at protecting communities.

“If you’re an ACT Party supporter, you’re very sort of sceptical about government generally and about the state generally. And so you're more likely, I think, to give any agency of the state a negative rating.”

 Back in June I wrote a post about how the police failed to resolve 87% of property crimes within the year. That fact is from their own annual report. Does that represent a police force "doing a good job of protecting communities"?

In May I wrote a post about how the number of prisoners on remand has doubled. The justice system is not functioning properly.

Those are just two recent instances of my skepticism about state agencies. 


Saturday, August 01, 2020

Jobseeker numbers were on the rise well before Covid

Since Labour took office the number of people on the Jobseeker benefit has risen steadily in spite of the reported low unemployment rate. I've blogged numerous times about the divergence. The following just-released MSD graph displays it starkly. The blue line provides the source of NZ's official unemployment rate. It continued a broadly downward trend after 2017 whereas the red line starts increasing.

The point is that Labour will blame high Jobseeker numbers on Covid but that's only partly true. 

The upward trend pre-existed the economic response to the virus.

A changing picture

JS-WR = Job Seeker Work Ready

Thursday, July 30, 2020

On the 'subsequent child' policy in parliament today

Dialogue in Parliament today with my italicised comments interspersed:

Question No. 5—Social Development
5. WILLOW-JEAN PRIME (Labour) to the Minister for Social Development: What recent announcements has she made about putting children first as part of the Government's welfare overhaul?

Hon CARMEL SEPULONI (Minister for Social Development): Yesterday, I announced that this Government is putting children first and making our welfare system fairer by removing the punitive subsequent child policy. The subsequent child policy was introduced in 2012. The policy has meant that parents who have a subsequent child whilst on a benefit have work obligations imposed on them earlier, from when their youngest child is just one year old, and, depending on the age of their next oldest child, this can also affect their eligibility for the sole parent support benefit. This is a policy that has furthered inequities in the welfare system for parents and their children, undermined the value of parenting, and exacerbated stigma and stress for many families.

Willow-Jean Prime: What difference will this make for parents and children?

Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: The subsequent child policy has a disproportionate effect on Māori women. 

Most children being added to an existing benefit are Maori. That has long been the case.

By removing the policy, we can further our commitment to improving outcomes for Māori and valuing the role of carers, who are predominantly women. 

The research resoundingly shows children born onto a benefit have poorer outcomes. Condoning - even encouraging this occurrence - will not improve "outcomes for Māori".

The first 1,000 days of a child's life are critical for their long-term development. It is not fair that these children might not be given the same time and support simply because they were born while their parents were on a benefit. 

Most children today do not have the luxury of 1,000 days with their mothers. To buy a home requires two incomes.  Prospective mothers and fathers plan around this reality and wait to have their children hence the ever-increasing average age of first time mothers. They wait and save while people on benefits keep having kids.

Removing the subsequent child policy will give the estimated 9,000 parents affected the flexibility to be carers. However, the removal of this policy does not preclude parents who are able to work from getting access to the employment and upskilling support from the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) that this Government has significantly bolstered investment in.

The "flexibility to be carers" comes at the expense of those taxpayers denying themselves the same luxury. And "this government" did not significantly bolster investment in access to employment support. Quite the opposite. It reduced case manager engagement at that level.

Last year the Expert Advisory Welfare Group pointed out, "In June 2014, employment-focused case managers engaged proactively with 50% of their clients every month to support them into employment. This has fallen to an all-time low of 19%, and, over the past year, has continued to drop by an average of one percentage point per month."

Willow-Jean Prime: Why is the subsequent child policy being removed?

Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: MSD has found no evidence that the subsequent child policy has positively impacted financial or social outcomes for those affected. This highlights, for me, how punitive policies, underpinned by judgment of those in our welfare system, are ineffective and only serve to stigmatise people who, in this case, have been disproportionately Māori women. 

The 'subsequent child policy' has not worked. Reckless or exploitative fertility continues. All that means is a different policy is required - not a surrender.

Under our confidence and supply agreement, this Government has committed to creating a fairer and better welfare system and removing excessive sanctions, and this—

DEPUTY SPEAKER: I think the member has answered the question, thank you.

Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I'd like to finish my answer—

DEPUTY SPEAKER: I'm sorry, but I think the member has already answered the question—

Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: Point of order, Madam Speaker.


Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: Actually, my word count is—

DEPUTY SPEAKER: I'm sorry, sit down. Sit down. It was a very long answer. It was a very simple question, much of which in the member's answer had already been stated. I think the answer has been completed.

I was left with an uncomfortable feeling that the Minister is framing the issue around Maori women to deliberately ward off criticisms of the policy repeal. It sets up the government to paint detractors as racist.

If the kids really come first their life chances should not be thwarted by the politics of race.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

More reversal of welfare reforms

What a lot of dangerous codswallop. Sepuloni says she is putting children first by removing National's 'subsequent child' policy.

I remember back in 2012, with the Nat's welfare reforms, there was a drive to get sole mothers in particular back into work because it was good for them and good for their children. Work gives adults a community, an independent income, self-esteem and discipline. And all of these are important for their children to experience firsthand.

So they increased work obligations in terms of how much and when (in relation to age of youngest child). 

But there was always the legitimate concern that some mothers would simply keep having children to avoid work. 

To that end they devised a policy whereby when a child was added, the existing work obligation kicked back in when that child turned one.

Now Sepuloni, no doubt 'encouraged' by the Greens, is doing away with it as part of the not-naming-fathers and indexing benefits to wages package.

There is a wealth of data analysis showing children added to benefits stay there the longest and have the worst outcomes. But she doesn't seem to have given the research a second thought.

Last year one in ten babies was added to an existing benefit at birth. For many of them it's a life sentence to neglect, abuse, transience, involvement with OT and eventually their own criminal offending and custodial sentences.