Thursday, January 19, 2023

December benefit stats give cause for concern

The latest benefit stats have just been released and while the Jobseeker numbers have declined, not so numbers for the other two main benefits - Sole Parent Support and Supported Living Payment:

Number and proportion of people receiving Sole Parent Support at the end of the last six December quarters.

Number and proportion of people receiving Supported Living Payment at the end of the last six
December quarters.

The rise in what used to be called the Invalid benefit (now Supported Living Payment above) is not insignificant. There are around 6,000 more people permanently unable to work due to illness. Almost half of the increase is due to psychological or psychiatric illness.

Given what we know about the level of mental illness within corrections facilities, I wonder how many of them are ex-prisoners? Recall that the prison population is down around thirty percent or 3,000.

There will almost certainly be a contribution from the under-performing health system as waiting lists continue to be a major problem.

As for the increase in sole parent reliance, it shouldn't be happening. Not with the amount of work that is currently available. The last Labour government leaders - Clark and Cullen - were very keen to lift the workforce participation of sole parents to the same level as partnered parents.  Clark was a particular type of feminist. She was interested in women empowering themselves through independence.

Ardern's Labour is different. Ideologically they are closer to the Greens. Remember Metiria Turei's championing of benefit fraud justified by motherhood and need? Labour has since implemented many of the Green's welfare policies as they relate to sole parents. The impetus to improve the lot of sole parents and their children through employment has dissipated. Which is a great shame.

Overall the total number of benefits in place is down from December 2020 but still up 22 percent on December 2017:

Number and proportion of people receiving a main benefit at the end of the last six December quarters.

Importantly, the benefit which people tend to stay on the shortest time (Jobseeker) has lost numbers whereas the benefits where people tend to stay the longest time (Sole Parent and Supported Living) have gained numbers.

Not a good result.