Written By: - Date published: 10:20 am, August 27th, 2013 - 94 comments
Categories: activism, benefits, jobs, john key, national, peter dunne, slippery, unemployment, united future, wages - Tags: social security, sue bradford, superannuation
While much of the MSM is focusing on the very important and energising Labour leadership election, the Key-Dunne government has slipped out a discussion paper on Dunne’s proposal for flexible superannuation. Make no mistake, this is a U-Turn for Key, while he hides behind it being a Dunne and flexible initiative and good for low income people.
Investigation of Mr Dunne’s proposal was part of his confidence and supply agreement with National at the last election.
The proposal allows people to choose to take a reduced rate of NZ Super from the age of 60, or an increased rate if they defer taking up superannuation until they reach 70.
“Flexi Super lets people choose for themselves when they want to take up superannuation without being told by the government when they should or should not retire,” Mr Dunne said.
While this seems good for many low paid workers, especially Maori and Pasifika people who have relatively short lifespans.
RNZ, Nine-to-Noon did a series of interviews on it this morning.
First up, Michael Littlewood from Auckland University says that it isn’t that simple. He says the discussion document is a relative sideshow to the wider issues with super. Littlewood says Dunne’s proposal is superficially attractive. It will increase the costs to the country, and decide who can get it earlier will be difficult. The current superannuation is one of the simplest and most effective in the developed world. Dunne’s proposal just creates unnecessary complications and confusions.
Anne Martin from Age Concern talks next in the slot, saying their concern is the amount of the pension which is currently inadequate.
Sue Bradford was the final person interviewed in this slot. It is an excellent and clear interview in which Bradford explains why Auckland Action Against Poverty will oppose this initiative. She says it cannot be seen as separate from the wider welfare system, which needs a complete overhaul. She describes it as (16 mins 30),
another step, another step in the dreadful war on the poor that’s been happening in Aotearoa for many years now, because for people in those groups, for whatever years of life are left – for people, they will be spent in grinding poverty rather than having the chance – I mean – Anne was saying that the super at the moment is not high enough. it’s 350 something dollars a week. That’s still a lot more than people get on welfare and to think that you might be on a lot less than that for the rest of your life on this new form of pension is actually grinding people into enduring poverty for the rest of their lives.
She gave examples of 60+ year olds, still caring for family members, who are being harassed by WINZ to seek for work, even though their chances of getting jobs are pretty poor. She said many would opt to go on a retirement pension, which looks to be a better option for them in the short term, but would mean, in practice, living the rest of their years in poverty. The government will aim to drive down the rate of the pension for those receiving it at an earlier date.
Bradford argued for universal benefits and that Dunne’s plan would be more beneficial for those on higher incomes, who have options to work til they are 70. Under Dunne’s proposal, those who defer collecting their super until they 70 years old, will get a bigger pension.