Monday, February 10, 2014

Evidence the DPB is much more than a safety net

When the Welfare Working Group was convened a number of papers were presented. One was about teen parents. Belatedly I have noticed the table below which shows the pathways onto the DPB.

At various times I have made attempts to find out what the prior relationship status was of people applying for the DPB but MSD tells me that it no longer keeps the information:
With regards to your other question on the reporting of the relationship status of single parents currently receiving the DPB, up until 2000 the Ministry included data on the relationship status of clients at the time they were granted Domestic Purposes Benefit in the Statistical Report. However since 2000 this information has not formed part of the Ministry's formal reporting and has not been reported on since 2003. As you are aware the Ministry is not required under the Official Information Act 1982 to create information in order to meet the specific requirements of an individual request. For this reason your request for this information was declined under section 18(e) of the Act.
Yet even Paula Bennett has claimed that...
 You might be interested to know that the vast majority of DPB recipients are in fact sole parents who have been married or in a relationship and who have lost the support of their husbands or partners for a variety of reasons.
What's a "vast majority"? 90+ percent? Is that fair?

Of all the women who were new entrants onto the DPB during 1999, only 35 percent were described as becoming dependent "following relationship breakup". Granted, a further 12 percent had "transferred from a couple benefit" indicating they had also experienced a breakup. But the total is under half - 47 percent.

And when you look at those women aged 16-19, the same percentage drops to 16 percent. Most transferred from a sickness benefit (for pregnancy reasons), the unemployment benefit or independent youth benefit (determined from my own OIA files). They may have been in a 'relationship' prior to receiving that benefit but given the age bracket the longevity or stability of those relationships wouldn't be up to much.

Additionally these statistics relate to a 12 month period. If you looked at point-in-time data the percentages are likely to drop further. That's because point-in-time captures more people who are long-term dependents - those whose pathway onto the DPB was from another benefit rather than from  relationship breakdown or employment. Note that those women aged 16-64 who come from a non-benefit relationship breakdown or employment rarely add another child to their benefit.

If MSD no longer keeps the data, is that because the reasons why people need the DPB are no longer important? Or perhaps if the public understood the degree to which it is used by people who have not experienced the loss of a partner, they may be less inclined to support the policy.


Brendan McNeill said...

"Or perhaps if the public understood the degree to which it is used by people who have not experienced the loss of a partner, they may be less inclined to support the policy."


Anonymous said...

I like the concept of 16 - 19 year olds being in a "relationship" with children that qualifies in any practical sense as a relationship. I guess real realtionships at that age are out there but suspect they are very few in number. Being old fashioned is depressing sometimes.


thor42 said...

The DPB is a *hammock*, not a safety net.

The sooner that it is done away with, the better.

Psycho Milt said...

Well, this will come in handy. All those times commenters at the Standard or the Daily Blog have written "citation needed" or "Where's your evidence" if you point out a significant proportion of DPB recipients are effectively career beneficiaries, the evidence was hiding in plain sight...