THE Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister has been braying about the Government lifting “about 66,000 kids out of poverty in the past few years …”
In its latest annual report the Ministry for Social Development takes pride in its focus on getting people jobs resulting in 226,836 clients moving off benefit into work in the last two years (“our highest recorded result”).
But social commentator LINDSAY MITCHELL points out that 415,266 benefits were granted in the past two years, when more benefits were granted than cancelled. She writes: –
A reader of Lindsay Mitchell’s blog has prompted an article– headed PM spends 0.2 percent of her time on Child Poverty Reduction? – which draws attention to the time Jacinda Ardern apparently devotes to her child poverty portfolio.
The blog reader seized on something Bryce Edwards wrote for The Democracy Project in an article (published by the BFD) headed Labour has given up on the poor.
Edwards drew attention to the mounting evidence that, under Labour’s watch, the problem of wealth and income inequality is spiralling.
A table in an article posted on Bassett, Brash & Hide shows there are 53,000 NZ European compared to a total of 47,000 combined other ethnicities (using the most recent data reported in June 2021).
Poverty, plainly, has no colour. There are more New Zealand European children in material hardship than all other ethnicities put together.
Social commentator LINDSAY MITCHELL – the author of the article – writes:
A just-published Listener article asks, “Why doesn’t middle-class NZ care about child poverty?” It gathers views from half a dozen people including a principal, a teacher, an advocate against child poverty, a charity head, a Māori provider chair and Pasifika social worker. Apparently, they told the Listener that the middle-class has become indifferent to child poverty.
Yet a careful reading of the piece finds it is primarily the Child Poverty Action Group advancing the idea that,
“For middle white New Zealand, poverty is equated with being brown. This is where the indifference comes from.”
The Chief Executive of the Auckland City Mission goes further claiming active hostility to solo mothers, especially Māori:
“As a society, the narrative is ‘how dare you raise a child alone? We are going to make it as hard for you as we can – we will punish you.’ And secondly, in our country, poverty has a colour. It is about racism and colonisation.”
In fact, there are more NZ European children in material hardship than all other ethnicities put together.
The table below shows there are 53,000 NZ European compared to a total of 47,000 combined other ethnicities (these are the most recent data reported in June 2021):
Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni was quick off the mark to announce the government’s achievement in getting more people off benefits. She says the government’s response to COVID-19 has helped keep people in work, with March Quarter Benefit statistics showing a further fall in the number of people receiving a main benefit and jobseeker assistance.
There were 19,883 fewer people on a main benefit, compared with December, with near-record numbers of people moving into work, Sepuloni said.
The figures also showed an annual fall of 4.8 per cent in the number of people receiving a main benefit.
Ministers have been celebrating their wisdom in raising benefits substantially from April 1.
Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni led the chorus by telling Parliament it is the biggest lift to main benefits in decades. For many years, the rate of main benefits has fallen further behind the average wage, placing many people, including children, in undue hardship, she said.
That was an unusual admission, given the Labour Party has been in office for four years.
So now the good news:
“In addition to indexing main benefits to wage growth, we are further lifting main benefits so they don’t fall further behind. The Ministry of Social Development’s analysis shows that from 1 April, a couple on a benefit with children will now be, on average, $237 a week better off than they were when the Government took office in 2017.
So how is the team of five million looking after its latest encounter with Covid-19 and its more transmissible Delta strain?
The majority will be relieved to have escaped its clutches.
On the other side of the ledger, the virus has had a powerful impact on lower- income groups.
One lobby group, noting the current lockdown triggered the largest weekly increase in numbers of people receiving benefits since the first lockdown last year, says the government isn’t doing enough to help affected families.
We commend social issues commentator Lindsay Mitchell, who tirelessly digs up data that put a different perspective on matters reported by mainstream media or brings government policy and its implementation into question.
Two splendid examples have been posted on her blog in the past few days.
One post (using graphs to underscore the argument) contends the progress of Māori social and economic indicators that has occurred under the process of colonisation stands in stark contrast to the constant barrage of contrary claims
The Ardern government has made “well-being” such a focus of its policies that many New Zealanders think it is now the way forward.
Labour’s ally, the Green Party, is so enamoured with the “well- being” philosophy it sharply criticised the government for raising the level of main benefits “by less than $8 a week” from April 1.
“We have a poverty crisis in NZ, and we must go further and faster to deliver income support that enables everyone to live with dignity,” says Green Party spokesperson for Social Development & Employment Ricardo Menéndez March.
“The government currently expects a single person over 25 years old to be able to get by on just $250.74 a week, and they’re supposed to celebrate that rising to $258.51. That extra eight dollars isn’t even enough to buy a block of cheese.”
Menendez March says it is “disingenuous” of the government to continue to say indexing benefits to wages is the best thing they could have done, and
” … even the Children’s Commissioner said they need to be bold and courageous, and actually lift benefits.
“Indexation of benefits to wages means little without a substantive lift in core benefits to close the gap which has continued for decades.”