Thursday, January 16, 2014

The truth about welfare dependence and what the Left denied

The graph below, from the latest Taylor Fry valuation of beneficiary liability, shows the age of entry into the benefit system for those beneficiaries aged 30-39 at June 2013. For a long time I tried to get this information out of MSD but the limitations of their data prevented a certain outcome. However I could get enough to suggest that somewhwere between a third and a half of people on the DPB began on welfare as teenagers. That was disputed by people like Susan St John (see below).

The reason 30-39 year-olds are depicted here is that older data is not available (ie the full benefit history of 40+ idividuals is unknown).  Almost two thirds of current 30-39 year-old beneficiaries began on welfare aged 19 or under; three quarters aged 24 or under. Stunning. This information clearly shows why it is so important to stop young people entering the benefit system from the outset.

The letter below was published in the NZ Herald, June 16, 2010. I responded here:
Dear Editor

Lindsay Mitchell (NZ Herald letters, 15th June) claims that Ministry of Social Development data shows that at last a third of current DPB recipients began on welfare as teenagers. She then goes on to suggest, with no supporting data, that the actual percentage may possibly be twice that.

This is designed to make us believe that New Zealand has an enormous problem of sole parents starting young and being on the benefit for years. This Bogey may justify all kinds of draconian knee jerk responses. In fact MSD says that, of the 34,000 DPB recipients aged 29 and under who had any time on a benefit as a teenager, only 17% (5,780 people) received the DPB, and the others may have had a minimal stint on unemployment or sickness benefit long before they had children. Thus only 6% of current DPBs started as teenagers.

It is a gross exaggeration to describe this as a huge dependency problem. The data clearly shows that sole parents largely move off the benefit when suitable jobs are available and when the needs of their children allow them to. The hand-ringing over sole parents should be replaced with community respect for the difficult lonely and yet vital work they do in caring for their children.

Susan St John, Exec CPAG
(St John is now on Radio NZ disputing Bennett's claim that the welfare reforms are having a positive effect on lowering the liability valuation because the numbers "have no context". Of course they do. The context does mean that the role the reforms has played is debatable, as I said yesterday, but there is context.)


Brendan McNeill said...


Congratulations once again for revealing factual information to support that which we have intuitively known for decades.

Let's hope this gets the public airing it deservers.

thor42 said...

"This is designed to make us believe that New Zealand has an enormous problem of sole parents starting young and being on the benefit for years."


"It is a gross exaggeration to describe this as a huge dependency problem."

It is NOT. The figures speak for themselves.

**WELL DONE**, Lindsay!

thor42 said...

That graph is *mind-boggling*, Lindsay.

How about this for a FAIR benefit policy?
No benefits to anyone aged under 20 (the sole exception being the "emergency unemployment benefit" for students who can't find work in the summer holidays. At least they are studying so I'm OK with them being on a short-term benefit).
No benefits for under-20s is GOOD for those people. It is GOOD for them to be forced to either work, train or study.

No welfare payments for more than 2 children, and no welfare for a child conceived or born while the mum is on a benefit. That would HUGELY cut the "welfare as a lifestyle" thing.

I will BET that these measures would gain HUGE support across the country. They are *common-sense* and FAIR. They would MASSIVELY cut the benefit numbers.
The UK is already looking at the "no welfare for more than 2 children" policy.