Thursday, June 21, 2012

Scottish doctors strike over plans to increase pension age and contributions

This is apparently the first time in 37 years doctors in the UK have gone on strike.

It surprises me that given the various European crises essentially caused by the welfare state, the 'privileged' in Scotland are so strenuously fighting austerity measures, and I wonder how much public sympathy there is for them. I'm no envier but there are highly paid public employees throughout the western world with far more capacity to tighten their belts than most.

Rules about work-testing the DPB

When parents on a benefit face work-testing as their youngest child turns five, some will attempt to avoid this eventuality by adding another baby. In recognition of this the government is introducing a rule that says the work-testing will only be waived till the subsequent child is one year-old.

It seems to me that there will still be grey areas, for instance, what if a subsequent child is born during a brief period off benefit? On re-application for a benefit does the caregiver get 5 years free from work-testing?

So in an attempt to find out what  attention had been given to this scenario I sent the following question to MSD:

In respect of the DPB welfare reforms which will introduce part-time work-testing when the youngest dependent child turns one if that child was been added to an existing benefit, has any official advice or correspondence occurred between cabinet and MSD discussing how the new rule will apply if the beneficiary has a period off benefit and returns?

The reply:

"In response to part four of your request, I refer you to recommendation six of the welfare Reform Cabinet paper, Paper C Parents on Benefit Who Have Subsequent Children"

This is what recommendation six says:

Agree that in implementing and maintaining this policy intent the Chief Executive should have discretion to consider application and, on occasion, exemption in the full range of circumstances where a subsequent child is added to a benefit dependent household.

Is that any kind of answer? Perhaps I didn't explain myself clearly.

I'm not talking about a subsequent child added to a benefit dependent household. I'm talking about a second, third, fourth child born between benefits. What rules will apply to their caregivers? Because as it stands a caregiver could have a child every five years and never reach work-testing so long as that child is not added to a benefit.

And if they could physically manage to add a baby a year to a benefit, that would also exempt them from work-testing.

These 'loopholes' demonstrate why it would be much better to have simple time-limits.

Under the regime about to be implemented I think we will see a pattern developing of repeated DPB-dependent spells in five year clusters (except it won't be DPB spells - it'll be SPS Sole Parent Support spells.)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Stat of the week

The Statistics Department of the University of Auckland awarded me Stat of the Week  at their Stats Chat site for which I receive a $20 iTunes voucher. Ta very much. Don't know what I do with such a thing. But probably one of my kids will take care of that.

The Stat?

That's the big lie.

(Thanks to Eric Crampton for alerting me to the site and competition).

Writing a good story

According to the NZ Herald:

Many young Aucklanders face having to pay for previously free sexual health consultations because of the Government's squeeze on health dollars.
This is expected to contribute to an increase in New Zealand's already internationally high rates of teenage pregnancy and some sexually transmitted infections, including chlamydia.
So I read on to see who is making this claim.

 [ProCare CE] Mr Hooton acknowledged that under ProCare's move "it is possible that teen pregnancy, abortion and STI rates could increase".
 So it appears to be the journalist's suggestion which, put to the 'expert', couldn't be ruled out.

That's a good trick for making attention-grabbing copy.

The subject of the story, limiting health funding in certain areas, seems to be in line with the general trend of more targeted spending, which on one hand is inequitable, but on the other tackles the problems where they are worst.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Asians too single-minded and smart

Have a read of Rodney's column today. It's based on an interview with Ranginui Walker which I happened to hear. I've commented at the site to the effect that I don't care what colour my GP is. But I do want them to be smart and capable, something Ranginui Walker seems to have somewhere down his list of prerequisites.

When Professor Ranginui Walker rang radio recently to argue the case for increasing the number of Maori in medical training in New Zealand, I hardly expected to finish with the view that too many Pakeha are being allowed to become doctors.