In 2002, John Key (then a free-speaking backbencher) told the Sunday-Star Times: “We’ve seen enormous growth in the number of people on the DPB, and where people have been, for want of a better term, breeding for a business”
Of course, it wasn’t true that DPB numbers were growing – they’re down 16% over the last ten years. Nor is it true that women are “breeding for a business” but that myth lies at the heart of National’s campaign against beneficiaries. The attack on the two mothers, the release of figures on the number of families getting more than $1000 a week – they know the reactionaries will jump up and down about the level of payments because they believe that the mums had their kids just to get more from the DPB. National is purposely creating the impression that these women are living in luxury on the taxpayer’s dime and having more kids to buy a better life-style.
Which is just bollocks. Raising a child is estimated to cost $250,000 to the age of 18. That is $13,888 per annum, $267 a week. The DPB does not even come close to that figure. A sole parent gets $272.70 on the DPB*. In addition, the family tax credit (which you get if you’re employed too, it’s part of Working for Families) pays $86 to $100 a week for the first child and $60 to $90 for subsequent children. There’s the accommodation supplement too but, starting at just $45 a week and maxing at $225 for the parent and two or more kids in Auckland, it’s not going to cover the rent.
The basic DPB leaves only about $100 a week for the mother to support herself. The $267 cost of each additional child is nowhere near covered by the family tax credit. Any additional children just means mum has to stretch an already threadbare budget even further.
It’s simply laughable to think that someone struggling to get by on the DPB would think having another child was a solution to their cash woes. Yet, National persists with fuelling the reactionary fires. They ought to be ashamed of beating up our most vulnerable families for their political gain.
[hattip to Maynard J for the email this post is based on]