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Another lagging indicator

Written By: - Date published: 5:02 am, September 14th, 2009 - 11 comments
Categories: poverty - Tags:

The New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services has released its annual Vulnerability Report. Due to rising unemployment, 219,000 children now live in households whose main income is a benefit- up 20,000 in the past year – and one in six newborns are born into a benefit dependent home.

These children growing up in poverty-ridden houses are missing out on the opportunities the rest of us take for granted. For the vast bulk of them, it will be the beginning of a life-time at the bottom of the socio-economic heap. Worse educational outcomes, higher likelihood of becoming involved in gangs and crime, worse health outcomes, lower employment and lower wages. These are all the long-term consequences of growing up in poverty and rising unemployment is making that the fate of ever more New Zealand children.

It’s not sufficent to say ‘recession’s over, move on’ because it’s actually over for anyone who was really exposed to it in the first place. If you’re in a well paying job or own a business, things are looking up, the value of your house and your shares are recovering well. At the other end, if you’re in the spectrum of society at risk of slipping below the poverty line, things aren’t looking so flash. Unemployment will keep rising for another year and will only slowly decrease thereafter. Wages will be stagnant, falling in real terms for even longer, not helped by the Government’s reluctance to increase the minimum wage.

That’s shaping the opportunities for the children, and the lives they will live in the decades to come. We are seeing that as the children of Ruthanasia are entering now young adulthood in South Auckland.

Key might dismiss still rising unemployment as a “lagging indicator” but it is much more than that. Unemployment has a devastating effect on families both now (wait for the crime stats out in a few weeks) and far into the future. It’s not good enough for him to shrug his shoulders.

11 comments on “Another lagging indicator ”

  1. George D 2

    And children on benefits are deliberately excluded from WFF. The Labour Party left them there.

    Because eventually, everybody will have a job. Right?

    Russell Fairbrother recently voiced his displeasure at having had to perpetuate this social injustice, saying he felt like an “insurance salesman”.

    • Bright Red 2.1

      Yeah. Labour got that wrong.

      But that did reduce the number of chilren living in poverty from 350,000 to 200,000 with WFF, higher minimum wage, and a full employment policy

      • Maynard J 2.1.1

        BrightRed, please do not point things like that out to George. only when Labour are perfect will he care.

        Like him, I was infuriated that the gap between rich and poor actually closed somewhat because of WFF. It is just an outrage, and I will point out how unhappy I am with it at every opportunity, because it was not perfect.

        • George D 2.1.1.1

          Aw! George hates us cause we’re not perfect!

          Grow up. It’s this kind of immunity to hearing criticism that has put the New Zealand Labour Party in the position it is in today.

          Maynard, I mention it because it is extremely relevant to this post, which attempts to present things without any reference to how we got to be in this situation.

          Child poverty will always piss me off, and I make no apologies for criticising the Labour Party for deliberately designing the Working For Families scheme to completely exclude the children of those on benefits. Hundreds of thousands of children were left behind under the last Government.

          I was talking on Saturday to my uncle, a pediatrician who works in Rotorua, and he didn’t have very much positive to say. If Labour had worked on child poverty seriously he would know.

          • Maynard J 2.1.1.1.1

            Oh gosh, your uncle said it, then I am sold. I mean, I only read the official report by the government, and something from the OECD that said the gap had closed somewhat, and that it was largely because of WFF. I had better ask my uncle to get the real skinny.

            I am never loathe to give credit to something that is clearly a step in the right direction.

            • George D 2.1.1.1.1.1

              Working for families improved the lives of a large number of New Zealanders. It did close the gap a decent amount, and I praise that. Labour people praise it no end, and we hear it all the time. We don’t hear the criticism very often, however.

              My point is that it would never close the gap for all – it couldn’t. That’s different to a scheme that attempted to help the neediest in NZ society (and if you’re the child of someone on a benefit in NZ you’re in or near poverty, almost by definition any time in the last 18 years.)

              And that in my book is called leaving people behind, knowingly. Labour either decided to leave them behind for political expedience, or genuinely thought they didn’t deserve help. I’ll be charitable and assume the former.

            • Maynard J 2.1.1.1.1.2

              You know what? Fair enough. The only increase to benefits were during the round of tax cuts they implemented, if I understand correctly.

              It is a shame there is no pressure from the public whatsoever to do so and that most of the pressure is probably pushing in the other direction.

  2. BLiP 3

    National Ltd’s nice Mr Key – for he loved the underclass so much he bought the company.

    • burt 3.1

      There is no underclass. Well there wasn’t when National wanted to do something about it – Did I miss that apology or is Goff still waiting for the txtda from Helen to tell him what to say about that one as well.

      • Maynard J 3.1.1

        err..no Burt. There was one, but it was obvious that Key was not going to do anything about it. As many said. And as has turned out to be the case. Nice revisionism though.

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