Saturday, March 20, 2021

Emergency housing costs SIX times more than private rent subsidies

A reader kindly sent me a response she received yesterday from MSD. She'd asked if any cost benefit analysis has been made of Temporary Emergency Accommodation versus paying market rental. The answer was 'no'. Hardly surprising. 

But MSD did supply a document containing some data from March 2020 quarter. Under a heading 'Analysis'  the following observation appears: 

"The spend on Emergency Housing does not represent value for money."

That's the understatement of the year.

I've charted the three main spends:

Subsidising renters in the private market costs just a third of subsidising them in public housing, and a sixth of what's being paid for motels, hotels and the like. 

Any cost/benefit analysis will show that government should get out of housing and confine itself to subsidising low income private renters.

I understand why people complain loudly about the state subsidising private landlords but as matters stand, it's still the most efficient way to house low income people.

Friday, March 19, 2021

National: "Emergency Motels Have Taxpayers Over A Barrel"

 National is at last complaining about an issue I (and probably others) was blogging about over a year ago.

National’s Housing spokesperson Nicola Willis says the Government is relying too much on using hotels and motels as emergency housing, which has seen the owners of these establishments charge prices as high as $440 a night.

In  relation to one Olive Tree Motel OIA questions were asked about accommodation payments:

"Clients are granted an amount which is paid directly to the motel.

In the June 2019 quarter the motel was receiving $265 per night.

But nightly charges per unit range from $145 to $165 according to their website. Charges reduce for longer stays"

But good on National for getting onto not just the issue of cost but the problems of moving people who are often dysfunctional and criminal into cramped, close spaces which just aggravate their behaviour. Their well-attended meetings in the provinces to discuss this most pressing issue have also been well-covered by the media. 

It's hard to take Green MP Marama Davidson's response seriously - divert away from government failure to accusations of racism yet again. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Consentual colonisation

Right now most academics, politicians, public servants, pundits and media maintain that the colonisation of New Zealand was a coercive and negative process for Maori. Moreover, that colonisation is an ongoing process.

I differ. I think much of the colonisation occurred with consent.

Take just one aspect of our shared history - social security.

While Maori were not wholly locked out of earliest social security provision, they were disadvantaged. It was harder to secure the Old Age Pension due to difficulty in procuring proof of birth. Then, authorities vested with the power of granting shied from issuing pensions to elderly Maori ensconced in communal living lest younger members misappropriated the funds. There was also debate about how much money an elderly Maori person living communally needed to live versus a retired European living independently. Neither of these considerations would be brooked today. And these discriminations quickly fell by the wayside.

Post 1938 Maori increasingly enjoyed the fruits of social security.  They were moving to the cities for work and wanted the same unemployment safety net. They were having large families and wanted the same family assistance. They aspired to own homes and wanted the same family benefit capitalization opportunity and access to state-advanced mortgages.

Colonisation provided a population large enough to supply the funds required for a universal safety net. Maori contributed and benefited willingly - or as willingly as non-Maori. (Willingness wasn't unamimous. I'm still no fan but recognise I am in a tiny minority. There are downsides to social security and they have disproportionately harmed Maori.)

Readers can doubtless think of other examples of how colonisation has been a positive process not least, the hundreds of thousands of life-long intimate individual unions between Maori and non-Maori.

I believe the term 'consentual colonisation' could be very powerful. Right now those who would angrily reject the idea are winning the debate and driving division.

Next time someone raises the matter of colonisation perhaps I'll ask, "Do you mean consentual colonisation?"

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

People coming off benefits

Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni has been crowing about people coming off benefits recently. I said to nobody in particular, "People always come off benefits at this time of year."

But don't take my word for it. Here's the Jan - Feb change 2021:

In total there was a drop from 389,601 to 377,907 - a 3% reduction.

And this is the same period in 2020:

The overall drop was 2.7%

A good deal of the change is driven by students moving from JS Student Hardship (categorised in 'other main benefits') back to student allowances. This is an older graph from my files but it serves to clearly show the annual December spike.