Friday, January 22, 2016

Carmel Sepuloni is woefully weak in opposition

National is publicising a drop in benefit numbers over 2015.

But Labour MP, Carmel Sepuloni is bitching about National not knowing where people who leave a benefit go:

 Carmel Sepuloni said the government was only telling part of the story by ignoring how many people had actually gone onto work.
"The Minister is not being transparent about the numbers of people coming off he benefit, particularly the number of people going into jobs because they're not keeping proper track of how many people are going into work," she said...
"There's some information to show a few of them go off because of study, marital status or death. But there's a much higher proportion where the government has no information about where they're going on to."

Here's the most recent publicly available data under National:

Shall we see what it looked like under Labour?

Under National, proportionately more people are leaving an unemployment benefit for work. And more is known, or shown or made public - take your pick -  about the other reasons for leaving welfare.

Note: The National numbers are quarterly; the Labour numbers are annual.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

News more important than truth

The quote I referred to earlier this week sounded like something Margaret Thatcher would say but was actually contained in a response from MSD to media regarding a news item that claimed there were no benefits for 16-17 year-olds and that was why teenagers were living in the bush.

That's an utter nonsense and the media shouldn't just repeat assertions without establishing their veracity. But news is now more important than truth.

Any youth or young parent can walk into Work and Income and begin a process of assistance if they can't live at home and have no other means of support. No, they won't simply get cash thrown at them as per the old Independent Youth Benefit. They will be assigned to a Youth Service Provider who will work out what they need to do in terms of training towards their future, parenting courses perhaps, enrolling any child with a GP, etc. The money they receive from Work and Income will be managed to ensure rent, board, power and other debts get paid. It's not a cushy number any more. But to say they have no option but live in the bush is wrong.

Hence the response from MSD which contained the quote I alluded to:

Assistance for Young People
14 January 2016.
Following enquiries regarding the assistance available to young people living rough in Auckland, MSD wants to assure the public that there is support for young people who find themselves in vulnerable situations.

Any young people with serious housing or other social services needs should get in touch with us as soon as possible. We would also encourage people in the community to alert us to groups that might need our help.

We’ll then get a good understanding of their individual needs so we can talk about the various types of support available, determine what will make a difference for them, and put plans in place to help.

There are benefits available to young people aged 16 or 17 who are unable to live at home. For this group the Youth Service provides wrap-around support. This includes mentoring, budget assistance, and help to continue school and training, so they can gain the skills to find a job and have an independent future.

In addition, if there is a care and protection concern, we’ll assess the young person’s needs and determine, along with other agencies, what needs to happen to support them.

Young people often want to make their own decisions about where they live and we work with them to make sure they’re in a safe and appropriate living situation. We don’t do this alone - a range of agencies and community organisations work together to support vulnerable young people. But at all times we must remember that State support cannot and does not replace the love and care of a supportive family. (My emphasis).

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

$1b is a big number

The Dompost has the biggest, boldest $1b on their front page I have ever seen. You couldn't cover it with a mobile phone. Not mine anyway.

The price of a free school education will soar to record heights this year.
Official figures show "voluntary donations" from parents and others will this year have collectively provided more than $1 billion to bankroll schools since 2000.
Commentators have described that as a watershed figure with some arguing New Zealand's "free education" system is broken. 
I just did some back-of-a-matchbox calculations.

Would it be reasonable to ask parents to pay say $96 a year towards their child's schooling? That's on average so obviously some would pay a lot less, possibly even nothing because the fee is voluntary.

There are 13 years across a child's education.(Year one to Year Thirteen).

So there are roughly 780,000 children in the school system (13 years x 60,000 in each age-band). Let's drop of the 4% that attend private schools which leaves 748,800.

That would amount to $72 million annually.
Over 14 years that would be just over $1b

Shock, horror.

$96 is $24 a term or $2.40 a school week.  It's just downright outrageous.

Monday, January 18, 2016

"... State support cannot and does not replace the love and care of a supportive family."

Who said this?

"... State support cannot and does not replace the love and care of a supportive family."

No doubt you will google it.


Doubling the unemployment benefit rate?

Grant Robertson is talking up the Danish 'Flexicurity' model intimating Labour policy in 2017 might look like something similar:

The Danish system has three parts. It has flexible rules for hiring and firing workers, to make it easier to cut staff in downturns and easier to hire new staff when an economy rebounds. It has a generous unemployment benefit of up to 90 per cent for low-paid workers. And it has an "active labour market" policy, which means unemployed are helped into work, given guidance or re-trained.
Mr Robertson said New Zealand already had a flexible labour market, but it needed to be balanced with greater security and income support.
"Obviously you can't take a model and replicate it from one country to another. It's the principles of it that we are looking at and how something similar could be put in place in New Zealand."
 The following graph is apparently based on data extracted from the OECD database. I am assuming it is accurate:

NZ has the most "flexible labour market" already.

But what would "a generous unemployment benefit of up to 90 per cent for low-paid workers" entail?

40 hours at minimum wage taxed at 20% = $472.  90% of that is $425.

The current Job Seeker benefit for a single person aged 25+ is $210.13. Of course that ignores any accommodation supplement but on the face of it Robertson is talking about doubling unemployment benefits.

That would mean other benefits would have to rise relative to the Job Seeker benefit. You couldn't have a single person getting a basic benefit higher than a sole parent with dependent children.

I'm actually for an unemployment benefit that pays more on the proviso that:

It is funded via employee/employer contributions and is time-limited.

I wonder if Labour would go for that?