Friday, January 15, 2021

First Jobseeker data of the year

MSD's first jobseeker data for the year shows that on New Years Day there were 212,441 people receiving a Jobseeker benefit. Just a week later that had risen to 213,755 - a net difference of  1,314. That's a heck of a jump in just a week.

BUT benefit numbers always spike over summer.

So to make a meaningful comparison I've charted the difference in Sept and Dec quarter Jobseeker numbers for the last 5 years:

Clearly, and not surprisingly, this summer is different.

(The 31/12/20 number is not available yet so I used 1/1/21).

Thursday, January 14, 2021

"Clear consequences" aka sanctions

Below is an extract from a Government policy statement:

Given today's Labour varietal you may be surprised to know that statement came from PM Helen Clark and Social Developemnt Minister Maharey in 2001, from Pathways to Opportunity.

Subsequently reliance on the unemployment benefit did decrease markedly:

HOWEVER reliance on invalid and sickness benefits increased (with a good part of the growth in mental health incapacity)...

...and DPB dependence reduced only slightly:

Anyway, back to the "clear consequences" aka sanctions.

The Labour government elected in 2017 was an entirely different kettle of fish.

Here is Simon Bridges in 2018 basically singing from the old Labour hymn sheet:

On TVNZ1's Breakfast yesterday, Mr Bridges said sanctions on benefit payments gave expectations and incentivised people to work, and the loosening of the rules was "unfair".  

"It's unfair on taxpayers who work hard and expect to see their money well spent. But it's also not fair to the beneficiaries frankly."

....When asked if she agreed with Mr Bridges about using sanctions to incentivise people to get off the benefit, Ms Sepuloni said there was "a lot of evidence to show that actually in many cases they don't work".

The application of sanctions reduced substantially. So what hppened next?

To be fair to Sepuloni I've only extracted data to pre-covid:

On the evidence presented here I believe Clark and Maharey were correct; Simon Bridges was correct and Carmel Sepuloni is whistling dixie.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Pharmac under the gun

Stuff 's editorial stance now is to inspect every institution from a grievance angle.

In the process their journalists are actually practising racism.

Pharmac has only 3 staff who identify as Maori. This is apparently "absolutely appalling" for a "...drug-buying agency vowing to prioritise Māori leadership and uphold the Treaty of Waitangi as a way to ensure better health outcomes for Māori."

The inequitable access by Maori to medicines is implicitly, at least partly,  the fault of Pharmac decisions. Therefore the existing Pharmac workforce doesn't care about Maori. That's racist thinking right there.

Pharmac is an agency tasked with making impartial and objective decisions about medicine funding as their very core task.

The 'representation argument' taken further would require that Pharmac address why only 32% of their staff are male. And less than 4 percent are Asian. But nobody is jumping up and down about those realities. (I note that one in five staff does not disclose their ethnicity which leads me to suspect they don't see the relevance. There may be Maori among them.)

BUT like the many arms of the public service, Pharmac are succumbing:

Pharmac was also focused on developing cultural competency across the organisation and ridding itself of “unconscious bias” recognising “systemic racism” was a key determinant of Māori health, Simpson said.

Simpson is the Pharmac's inaugural chief Māori advisor.

So not insubstantial sums from Pharmac's budget are already being spent for training when they should be used for medicines.

For Maori and anybody else who needs them.