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Poverty Watch 17

Written By: - Date published: 8:08 am, February 2nd, 2013 - 6 comments
Categories: national, poverty - Tags:

Here we go with Poverty Watch for another year.

December 2012 saw the release of two important reports, the Children’s Social Health Monitor 2012 Update Report, and the Children’s Commisioner Expert Advisory Group’s report on Solutions to Child Poverty (EAG Report).  I hope to spend time over the next couple of weeks looking at each in turn.

Here’s the home page for the Children’s Social Health Monitor 2012 Update Report, with a pdf of the full report here.  The Introduction kicks off with the underlying truth which frames the issue of child poverty in NZ – poverty is a racial issue:

In New Zealand, there are currently large disparities in child health status, with Māori and Pacific children and those living in more deprived areas experiencing a disproportionate burden of morbidity and mortality…

Poverty is also an intergenerational issue – we don’t all get the same start or equal opportunities in life:

In New Zealand, children and young people living in more deprived areas experience significantly worse health outcomes across a range of measures (e.g. infant mortality, hospital admissions for infectious and respiratory diseases, non-accidental injuries) [1]. Growing up in a low income family also increases the risk of longer term negative outcomes, such as leaving school without formal qualifications and economic inactivity. …

In addition, the presence of social safety nets (e.g. free education and healthcare, unemployment benefits and others forms of income support) may buffer the effects of low family income, with social gradients in health being much less marked in countries with robust social security provisions [4].

These are the very social security provisions that the government is keen on dismantling.  Most of the rest of the introduction focusses on international and NZ evidence relating to the effects of the severity, duration, and prevalence of poverty on children.  It concludes as follows:

Thus while it is difficult to predict with any certainty the impact the current economic downturn will have on child health outcomes, the available evidence would suggest that one in five New Zealand children (see Children Reliant on Benefit Recipients section) are already exposed to low family incomes as a result of their parent’s benefit status, and that if unemployment remains at the levels seen during the 1990s, a similar number will spend at least five of their first seven years of life reliant on a beneficiary. Further, the Living Standards surveys suggest that New Zealand’s current benefit provisions will be unable to protect these children from severe or significant hardship, and that some of the adaptations families make in response to their inadequate resources may have detrimental health consequences for their children.

While Labour’s record of alleviating poverty is much better than National’s of increasing it, not even Labour dared to significantly increase these inadequate benefits in it’s last term.  It speaks to a failure of boldness on Labour’s part, and a meanness of spirit on the electorate’s, where the idea of increasing benefits is apparently unpopular.  What kind of country are we?

More from this report next time.


In other news – remember this from last year?

Warning on child poverty

The Government has ruled out another of the main recommendations in a major child poverty report – but the Maori Party has sent a warning it will make the Government’s life uncomfortable if it ignores the report.

In a rare step, the Maori Party yesterday held a press conference with all three of its MPs and called on National to look at all 78 recommendations in a new report by an expert panel working with the Children’s Commissioner. …

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia said the child poverty report was part of the Maori Party’s support agreement with National and she did not expect National to simply brush the report aside.

Hey Maori Party – guess what – the government is ignoring the report, and they are ignoring you too.  What are you going to do about it?


Here’s the standard footnote. Poverty (and inequality) were falling (albeit too slowly) under the last Labour government.   Now they are on the rise again, in fact a Waikato University professor says that poverty is our biggest growth industry.

Before the last election Labour called for a cross party working group on poverty. Key turned the offer down.  Report after report after report has condemned the rate of poverty in this country, and called on the government to act. Meanwhile 40,000 kids are fed by charities and up to 80,000 are going to school hungry. National has responded with complete denial of the issues, saying that the government is already doing enough to help families feed their kids. Organisations working with the poor say that Key is in poverty ‘la la land’.

The Nats refuse to even measure the problem (though they certainly believe in measurement and goals when it suits them to bash beneficiaries). In a 2012 summary of the government’s targets and goals John Armstrong wrote: “Glaringly absent is a target for reducing child poverty”…

The costs of child poverty are in the range of $6-8 Billion per year, but the Nats refuse to spend the $2 Billion that would be needed to really make a difference. Even in purely economic terms National’s attitude makes no sense.

6 comments on “Poverty Watch 17”

  1. tracey 1

    Meanwhile, the liquidators of blue chip get paid but no money to sue directors so claimants go without

  2. xtasy 2

    I get depressed every time I see the post ‘Poverty Watch’.

    Yes, it is all appalling, and we know what the answers could be and should be, but do enough out there listen. Another post today is about “charity”, and I fear, too many in the public, fall for this approach like Campbell Live have presented. Give a bit, and do a bit, and it is all done. Sorry, that is not how it works.

    It must not be like going to a church and dropping a few coins into a donation box or bag!

    The rot sits deeper and real serious work and real changes are needed!

    Giving a donation and helping a disadvantaged child is OK in a way, of course, but should it ever come to this, that strangers have to step in, who just feel a bit of media generated “guilt” and sympathy?

    NZ is a very important, efficient food producer, so having kids go to school without breakfast and no shoes, that is unbelievable, for a country that wants to count itself to the “developed world”.

    The system needs changing, and that is where the government has responsibilities.

    But what we get from Bennett is condemnations, appeals, moral lecturing, and a social security reform bill, that will hit out at parents, and make kids suffer more, due to being exposed to new stressors, pressures and unfairness. Social obligations, drug testing, stopping benefits of people that have a warrant out for arrest.

    Whoa, this is insane. Why would WINZ or other MSD staff have to get involved in that, rather than do the work to help people to survive, get food and clothing and housing they need, do more to offer real jobs that pay a living wage, and offer more means to actually assist sick and disabled to get treatments and support they need.

    All this new Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill will do – is wave A GIANT STICK at the beneficiaries, that will also cause more harm to kids.

    Shame on this shit government, they are CRIMINALS, and the traitor Bennett is one of the biggest there!

    • r0b 2.1

      I get depressed every time I see the post ‘Poverty Watch’.

      Sorry xtasy.

      I get depressed writing them too.

      But I don’t want to let child poverty be “last year’s issue”.

      Because nothing has changed.

  3. Mike 3

    The health issues related to poverty aren’t from lack of access to healthcare as access to healthcare for the poor in this country is extremely good. I believe a study I read about (will try and remember what it was) which explained the biggest contributor to ill health amongst the poor is possibly stress. They explained that it is the stress from being poor (stressing about paying the rent, paying the bills, feeding the kids, getting a job, keeping the kids happy, etc,etc) which is the largest contributor to ill health amongst poor people.

    • McFlock 3.1

      It’s not one major issue – stress can compete with overcrowding, nutrition and access to healthcare for the “top contributor” award. Hell, they all work together.

      But the tautological truth is that poverty-related conditions are caused by inequality: relative poverty. That’s why symptomatic treatments alone (food in schools, increasing the vaccine schedule, improving access to primary healthcare) won’t cut it. Band-aids on a stomach wound.

      Poverty is caused by poor employment rights and representation (minimum wage, non-union members freeloading off collectives), high unemployment, poor education, weak or nonexistent safety nets, and government policies that put “warfare” into “social welfare”.

      And fuck the nacts who can sleep at night after inflicting that on millions of their citizens.

    • rosy 3.2

      It depends how you define healthcare access. Accessibility doesn’t just refer to geographic accessibility, transport options and cost.

      An example I’ve noted recently is if a family works temporary or other jobs without security of hours a trip or two to the GP for the kids is going to be put off as long as possible – both in terms of cost and in terms of keeping the hours up. A solution would be after hours services provided at the same cost as usual hours – without the trip to A&E or after hours clinics which are often further away.

      On top of that we’re beginning to see cuts in primary care funding for the most vulnerable. I’m not sure of the impact on poor kids, from these cuts but the impact on the poor generally will make a difference. As will increased prescription charges. Basically the poor are having access to primary care reduced so the government can quantify more surgical procedures listed in there ‘aren’t we good’ file.

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  • Bank puts the squeeze on mid Canterbury farmers
    News that an unnamed bank in Ashburton has put a receiver on notice over financially vulnerable farmers will send a chill through rural New Zealand, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The Government needs to work with  New Zealand’s banks… ...
    5 days ago
  • Key is trading away New Zealand land and homes
    John Key yesterday admitted what National dishonestly refused to confirm in Parliament last week – he is trading away New Zealand’s right to control who buys our homes and land, says Opposition leader Andrew Little. “The Prime Minister must now… ...
    5 days ago
  • Razor gang takes scalpel to health
    Plans by the Government to take a scalpel to democratically elected health boards are deceitful and underhand, coming just months after an election during which they were never signalled, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says “Leaked documents reveals a radical… ...
    5 days ago
  • Spin lines show a department in chaos
    Corrections Spin Doctors sending their place holder lines to journalists instead of responding to serious allegations shows the scale of chaos at the department over the Serco scandal, says Labour’s Corrections Spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “As more and more serious allegations… ...
    1 week ago
  • Court ruling shows law should never have been passed
    A High Court ruling that a law banning prisoners from voting is inconsistent with a properly functioning democracy should be a wake-up call for the Government, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. In an unprecedented ruling Justice Paul Heath has… ...
    1 week ago
  • Judicial Review Gamble Pays Off for Problem Gambling Foundation
    Congratulations are due to the Problem Gambling Foundation (PGFNZ) who have won their legal case around how the Ministry of Health decided to award their contracts for problem gambling services to another service provider. Congratulations are due not just for… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    1 week ago
  • Environmental Protection Agency appoints GE advocate as new CEO
    This week, the Environmental Protection Authority Amendment Bill passed its first reading in Parliament. The Bill puts protection of the environment into the core purpose of the Environmental Protection Authority. This month, Dr Allan Freeth, the former Chief Executive of… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    1 week ago
  • Charanpreet Dhaliwal death demands genuine health and safety reform
    The killing of a security guard on his first night on the job is exactly the kind of incident that National’s watered-down health and safety bill won’t prevent, says Te Atatu MP Phil Twyford. The coronial inquest into 22-year-old Charanpreet… ...
    1 week ago
  • Arbitrary sanctions hit children hardest
    Increasing numbers of single parents are being penalised under a regime that is overly focussed on sanctions rather than getting more people into work, Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni says. “Figures, obtained through Parliamentary questions show 3000 more sanctions,… ...
    1 week ago
  • Hekia just won’t face the facts
    Hekia Parata’s decision to keep troubled Whangaruru Charter school open despite being presented with a catalogue of failure defies belief, goes against official advice and breaks a Government promise to close these schools if they were failing, says Labour’s Education… ...
    1 week ago
  • No more silent witnesses
    Yesterday I attended the launch of a new initiative developed by and for Asian, Middle eastern and African youth to support young people to name and get support if there is domestic violence at home. The impact on children of… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 week ago
  • Single Use Plastic Bags campaign – Some wins and some green-washing
    As we near the end of Plastic Free July I’m nearing the conclusion of my Say No To Plastic Bag tour when I will have completed all 30 of my public meetings. The campaign was designed to work with community… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    1 week ago
  • Single Use Plastic Bags campaign – Some wins and some green-washing
    As we near the end of Plastic Free July I’m nearing the conclusion of my Say No To Plastic Bag tour when I will have completed all 30 of my public meetings. The campaign was designed to work with community… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    1 week ago
  • Minister must take responsibility for problem gambling debacle
    The Government’s handling of the Problem Gambling Foundation’s axing in a cost-cutting exercise has been ham-fisted and harmful to some of the most vulnerable people in society, Associate Health Labour spokesperson David Clark says.“Today’s court ruling overturning the axing of… ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour will not support TPP if it undermines NZ sovereignty
    The Labour Party will not support the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement unless key protections for New Zealanders are met, Opposition leader Andrew Little says.“Labour supports free trade. However, we will not support a TPP agreement that undermines New Zealand’s sovereignty. ...
    1 week ago
  • Coleman can’t ignore latest warnings
    Resident doctors have advised that a severe staffing shortage at North Shore Hospital is putting patients’ lives at risk, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. “They say a mismatch between staffing levels and patient workloads at North Shore has… ...
    1 week ago
  • ACC must remove barriers to appeals
    The Government must prioritise removing barriers to justice for ACC claimants following a damning report by Acclaim Otago, Labour’s ACC spokesperson Sue Moroney says. “ACC Minister Nikki Kaye must urgently scrap her flawed plan to remove claimant’s right to redress… ...
    1 week ago
  • Six months’ paid parental leave back on the agenda
    Six months’ paid parental leave is back on the agenda and a step closer to reality for Kiwi parents after Labour’s new Member’s Bill was pulled from today’s ballot, the Bill’s sponsor and Labour MP Sue Moroney says. “My Bill… ...
    1 week ago
  • Sole parents at risk of having no income
    New requirements for sole parents to undertake a reapplication process after a year is likely to mean a large number will face benefit cancellations, but not because they have obtained work, Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni says. “Increasing numbers… ...
    1 week ago
  • Juking the Welfare Stats Again
    Last week the government’s major initiative to combat child poverty (a paltry $25 increase) was exposed for what it is, a lie. The Government, through the Budget this year, claims to be engaging in the child poverty debate, but instead,… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 week ago
  • OCR rate cut a result of flagging economy
    The Reserve Bank's decision to cut the Official Cash Rate to 3 per cent shows there is no encore for the so-called 'rock star' economy, says Labour's Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson.   "Today's interest rate cut comes off the back… ...
    1 week ago
  • Reboot to an innovation economy, an Internet economy and a clean economy
    In my short 33 years on this planet we’ve seen phenomenal technological, economic and social change, and it’s realistic to expect the next 33 will see even more, even faster change. You can see it in the non-descript warehouse near… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    1 week ago
  • Bill that puts the environment into the EPA passes first hurdle
    A Bill that puts the environment squarely into legislation governing the Environmental Protection Authority passed its first reading today, says Meka Whaitiri.  “I introduced this member’s bill as the current law doesn’t actually make protecting the environment a goal of… ...
    1 week ago
  • Key’s KiwiSaver deception exposed
    KiwiSaver statistics released today expose John Key's claim that the cutting of the kickstart payment "will not make a blind bit of difference to the number of people who join KiwiSaver” to be duplicitous, says Labour Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson.  “Official… ...
    1 week ago
  • Minimum Wage Amendment Bill to protect contractors
    All New Zealanders should be treated fairly at work. Currently, the law allows non-employment relationships to be used to get around the minimum wage. This is unfair, says Labour MP David Parker. “The Minimum Wage (Contractor Remuneration) Amendment Bill, a… ...
    1 week ago
  • Bill raises bar to protect Kiwi farmland
    The Government’s rubber-stamping of every one of the nearly 400 applications from overseas investors to buy New Zealand farm land over the last three years proves tougher laws are needed, Labour MP Phil Goff says. “In the last term of… ...
    1 week ago
  • Costly flag referendum should be dumped
    John Key must ditch the flag referendum before any more taxpayer money is wasted, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “Millions of dollars could be saved if the Prime Minister called a halt to this hugely expensive, and highly unpopular, vanity… ...
    1 week ago
  • Nats letting Serco off scot free
    Government members have prevented Parliament’s Law and Order select committee from getting answers out of a senior Serco director about the fight clubs being run at Mt Eden prisons, says Labour’s Corrections Spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “At today’s Law and Order… ...
    1 week ago
  • Charter school experiment turns into shambles
    The National Government’s charter school experiment has descended into chaos and it’s time for Hekia Parata to stop trying to cover up the full extent of the problems, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “The Education Minister must release all… ...
    1 week ago

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