Friday, July 11, 2014

Learned helplessness

The NZ Herald has a report compiled by the Auckland City Mission into what 100 families say they need to escape poverty.

The immediate striking thing is most of what they want is already available or in the pipeline.


The families suggest setting a cap on interest rates by law and developing low-interest lending such as a $10 million "affordable loans" scheme being developed by the Bank of NZ and the Government with the Salvation Army and Good Shepherd NZ.

On the way, the second part anyway.


 Many families don't know about the clean slate law. They suggest providing more information about it and "humanising" prison visiting areas so offenders can talk and play with their children.
Clean slate law exists and family friendly prison visiting areas (I think) exist in at least one prison and are being developed in others.


 The families suggest regulating standards for both state and private rentals.

WOFs for housing being piloted and possibly extended to private sector. Tenancy Tribunal available.


The families suggest raising the minimum wage and closer monitoring of casual work contracts to give them more security.

Living wage already implemented for Wellington City Coucil employees though limited evidence is workers reduce their hours when paid more because of WFF.


The families suggest free healthcare and subsidised dental care for low-income families.

Free healthcare for under 13 year-olds on the way. Free dental care at school. It's sad to read about people pulling out their own teeth but there is free hospital dental care. When I was volunteering  I took a 'client' a couple of times.


 The families would like decile 1 and 2 schools to provide lunches for all children.

Breakfasts are available. Not sure where lunches are at.


The families request more personalised services and systems that keep their stories on file so they don't have to keep repeating them.

As the article points out WINZ has returned to one-on-one case management for the neediest. And housing is now the responsibility of WINZ so the beneficiary doesn't have to deal with HNZ separately.


The families suggest restoring the training incentive allowance, which was axed in 2009, and requiring course providers to guarantee jobs at the end of each course.

The training allowance was redistributed to lower level education. Too many people were perpetual students and the evidence shows they stayed on a benefit longer (though once off stayed off longer).

Regarding the last, nobody is ever guaranteed a job at the end of a course. Beneficiary or not.

Sorry but there is a lot of learned helplessness out there.


Anonymous said...

Sorry but there is a lot of learned helplessness out there.

More to the point there is a lot of "learned helplessness" in parliament. The fact that the current light-blue government is doing everything these families want - and is spending more on welfare than ever before - just goes to show this is actually the most leftwing govt ever in NZ.

Taking advantage go benefits is rational economic behaviour. The problem is giving out all those benefits in the first place.

The only party campaigning on cutting any benefits at al is Labour - cutting the super (the dole for over 65s)

Berend de Boer said...

The report makes for depressing reading. We need to receive more stuff!

Visiting dad in prison, I'm sure he just ended up their by chance.

The father with 8 children, where did these children come from?

I suppose these people probably already get $100,000 a year in free stuff, like free schools, subsidises health care, state housing, etc etc.

Berend de Boer said...

I sympathise with the fines though: $150 for a poor person is crazy.

What about three other options:
1. we have fines dependent on income.
2. We allow fines to be paid off by time in prison.
3. You work for the government to pay off the fine. There's lots of work (beach/nature garbage cleanup) that can be done for which paying something to do it, is too much.

Anonymous said...

Unpaid fines for someone who can't pay are often remitted by a judge = no penalty.

S. Beast said...

I phoned the Salvation Army and BNZ regarding the low interest scheme. Curiously both had no knowledge of the scheme and BNZ had no phone number/or record(??) for the contact person they listed in the article.

What troubles me is that all families concerned are most interested in making what they have comfortable. No one mentioned how they might need to learn how they can turn our tax system to their advantage which I'm guessing is an issue if you don't know about the clean slate program, and honestly think that resetting the minimum wage is what is needed to improve your life.

S. Beast said...

And that nobody mentioned a community garden/aquaponics that could reduce food bills, improve health and commmunity ties, is disappointing.

It could even help pay down debt. Right now if you are in great debt some agencies can supplement your food with food parcels so you can make more payments.

Surely a nobrainer I would think.

Lindsay Mitchell said...


This is what I was thinking about: