Saturday, July 18, 2015

Using 'rape' to attack reform

A prime example of desperate opposition politics.

The British government plans to limit tax credits to two children. But the opposition is crying foul on behalf of mothers of two who  become pregnant as the result of rape or other 'exceptional circumstances'.

Typical left-wing strategy. Try and kill the broad application of a policy at the margins.

Nobody is forced to proceed with a pregnancy.

An SNP MP says,

“We think the policy on limiting tax credits is appalling anyway, and tantamount to social engineering, but putting a woman who has been raped – and her child – in that position is shocking,”

Paying people to have children is social engineering. Not paying them is undoing social engineering.

She's not old enough to appreciate context.

Sole parents on welfare - decline continues

Proportion of working-age population receiving Sole Parent Support at the end of June 2010-2015. 

 There are a few provisos to the chart above.

 1/ This is only a count of sole parents with children aged 13 and under. Those whose youngest child is 14 or older are now in the Jobseeker statistics but unidentifiable.

2/ There will also be single parents among all the other benefits, especially Supported Living Payment.

3/ The count does not include sole parents under 18.

Friday, July 17, 2015

6 hours of work to get your kids out of poverty?

I pinched this from Utopia:You Are Standing In It, aptly named considering the table below:

It shows that a sole parent with two children receiving a benefit would only need to work 6 hours to get over the 50% of the median household income threshold. Is that right?

The median household income in NZ was $1,358 in June 2013. So the 50% threshold is $679.

The average Sole Parent Support payment is just over $600. 6 hours at minimum wage is $71 net.

The calculation looks robust to me.

6 hours of work does not affect the benefit:

You can get up to $5,200 a year (before tax) in additional money (for example from working) before your benefit payment is affected, and $20 more a week if you have childcare costs.
In New Zealand the higher threshold of 60 percent is used to define 'poverty'. That's $814.

According to Paula Bennett  if the parent worked 15 hours that would result in $750. At 20 hours they leap to $814 - bang on 60 percent of the median household income

So internationally New Zealand stacks up very well in its assistance level for sole parents - without the impending benefit increase.

Thursday, July 16, 2015


On my mind.

Yesterday, on NewstalkZB talking to Larry Williams. Phil Twyford insisted that Labour had taken legal advice over the leaked Barfoot and Thompson data and were assured it was non-problematic because there was nothing in the data that wasn't publicly available.

Why, then, didn't they access it through publicly available channels?

Do you know anyone who wants to change the flag? Paul Henry obviously doesn't. I don't want to but that's apparently because I "don't like change". It is lucky for the person who said so, that I don't like change and thus have not changed him. If the status quo remains, will the only lasting legacy of the  flag debate be familial disharmony?

Speaking of which, where is John Key? He seems to have gone into hibernation.Or am I just looking in the wrong places?

Image result for paul henry's new jacket flag

Why have baby murders been relegated to small photo-less snippets while front pages are given over to poor pensioners not being allowed (or being allowed depending on which day you look) to put up curtains in council properties?

When are ratepayers going to revolt?

In my research, I have worried about having to assume that Maori caregivers have Maori children, but it is unavoidable, as MSD records only the ethnicity of the primary beneficiary. How worried would I be if I had to assume that anyone (or proportion thereof) with an Asian sounding name was indeed a non-resident, Chinese home owner?

And has Labour done any modelling on what percentage their policy will wipe off property values?

Because that's the aim. Let's be honest about that at least.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

NZ First bags a performance better than its own

Reported by Three News and featured on page two of this morning's DomPost:

In 2005/06 the equivalent percentage was 35%; in 2006/07 it remained the same.

Remind me when NZ First was last part of the government?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A none-news story from CTU

The Council of Trade Unions says:

“New data obtained by the CTU shows that less than half of people who come off a benefit are known to have obtained work,” says CTU economist Bill Rosenberg. “In 2014, MSD records show only 46% obtained work. We therefore cannot assume that falling benefit numbers means people coming off benefits found work.” The data was released to the CTU last month by the Ministry of Social Development under an Official Information request.
“Even adding on the 11% going into full time study means that as many as two out of five people leaving benefits aren’t going into work or study,” says Rosenberg.

The type of benefit isn't defined. All benefits or the Jobseeker?

 Anyway, we can check whether this is worse than in the past.

In 2006/07 only 41% of working age clients leaving the unemployment benefit had obtained work.

DPB was also 41%, sickness benefit 18% and invalid, 26% .

More people leaving a benefit are obtaining work now than they were in 2007.

Mad Max not so mad in UK

Max Rasbrooke, anti-poverty campaigner has gone to the UK. He writes a column that's published in the left-wing  Guardian newspaper about what UK child poverty campaigners could learn from NZ. He begins by painting the recent NZ picture:

Consider this scenario: a centre-right party, handed an unexpectedly large majority, sweeps into government – and promptly promises to make child poverty a key focus of its next term in power, before delivering the first rise in benefit rates in over 40 years.

"Sweeps into government"?  It was already in government.

"An unexpectedly large majority"? Unexpected by Max maybe.

 "First rise in benefit rates in over 40 years"?

This conveniently ignores that second tier assistance like accommodation supplement and family support preserved the value of welfare for families. As well benefits have been constantly raised to keep step with rampant inflation. For instance, from the 1976 Official Yearbook a 15% annual increase to match inflation that year:

 In both countries,benefits are low by international standards

The benefit most pertinent to child poverty is the sole parent support. So how do they stack up :

NZ is middling and the UK is high.

When it comes to solutions, both governments are focused on forcing people off benefits, with no real monitoring of what happens to them afterwards. They are also both cutting, or looking to cut, in-work benefits, sometimes by stealth

Yet the government is increasing  in-work benefits from April next year:

Lower-income working families not on a benefit also get a boost from the Budget. Working families earning $36,350 a year or less before tax will get $12.50 extra a week from Working for Families, and some very low-income families will get $24.50 extra.

Rashbrooke continues:

 New Zealand does, however, provide a slightly more fertile climate for anti-poverty campaigners: in a country of 4.5 million people, poverty is more visible than it is in Britain...
Wouldn't overcrowding make poverty more visible? The more eyes there are, the more visible something is.

But the campaigners themselves can take much of the credit. Focusing on child poverty as having both the most serious consequences and the greatest emotional pull, they have launched what amounts to a full-spectrum attack. New Zealand’s Child Poverty Action Group (Cpag) has publicly confronted governments of all stripes, taking them to court over the decision not to pay certain tax credits to beneficiary households. While the courts ultimately ruled that this decision was legal, they also found it was discriminatory. The court case kept the issue in the media for long spells and prompted many political parties to promise to end the discrimination. Meanwhile, Cpag also delivered a stream of carefully researchedreports on the consequences of and solutions to child poverty.

Many political parties? The Greens were the only party to campaign on it as policy in 2014.

My own experience of CPAG reports is that at least some aren't particularly carefully researched and I've corresponded with them to that effect.

New Zealand’s successes should not be overstated. We are a long way from making a real assault on poverty, but it shows that the debate can be shifted. 

How rich is this observation  when recently writing for a domestic newspaper angry Max could find nothing positive to say about "successes" on child poverty here?

Monday, July 13, 2015

Punishing all of NZ for Auckland's problem

How often does Labour try on this type of approach (as does National), so let's just say governments. Punishing a majority in futile attempts to control a minority.

Think anti-smacking legislation, drink-drive laws, dangerous dog laws, alcohol restrictions, etc.

It isn't just Aucklanders who will be told they can't sell their property to the highest bidder (outright wealth confiscation); so will the rest of New Zealand. On the face of it, as per Andrew Little's policy description to Paul Henry this morning, non-residents will be banned from buying residential property. Non-residents include skilled migrants who cannot gain residency for two years.

What sort of message is this? We desperately need your skills - the health sector is a prime example - but don't  expect to be able to guarantee your family security of settlement initially. You can put your salary into rent for two years, thanks.

And I won't even start on the racial profiling 'research'. Stupid Labour backed itself into a corner again. To prove it isn't a racist policy, people coming from anywhere will be punished. There are plenty of recently-arrived  Pommie families in my neighbourhood, who've brought their children here for a better quality of life, and good luck to them. They're allowing vendors to maximise their property values (and sustaining all the local services like schools, doctors and shops).

Greens talk up beneficiary debt

Green MP Jan Logie says the government is "forcing" beneficiaries into debt to MSD.

"Nearly 60 percent of all beneficiaries – 171,000 people – now have a debt to WINZ, of an average of nearly $2500 each. Before National was elected in 2008, just 49 per cent of beneficiaries had a debt to WINZ, and it was closer to $2000."

For starters "average" debt is not useful term.  MSD explained why in a letter to me providing data on debt,

"The average amount owed does not provide an accurate picture of the majority of clients who have a debt to Work and income.  This is because the average is distorted by a few large amounts  owed by a small number of people. A more accurate picture of the 'average' value of debt is shown by the median value. As at the end of November 2005, the median value of debt owed to Work and Income was $501.82 per client."

So the Green figures exaggerate individual debt. Typical.

In any case, the straight forward solution would be not to extend any repayable assistance to beneficiaries. Is that what beneficiaries want? I very much doubt it.

Logie says that benefits are not enough to heat a house or buy good food. Yet when the lowest income people are surveyed, fewer than a third say they don't have enough money.

I get sick and tired of the Greens talking up poverty and debt for cynical self-serving reasons.