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English’s strange priorities

Written By: - Date published: 10:49 am, November 2nd, 2009 - 51 comments
Categories: welfare - Tags:

Talk about bereft of ideas, the currency is yo-yoing, the housing bubble is re-inflating, wages are falling, jobs are still being lost in large numbers, the oil price is back above $80 but what’s the Finance Minister Bill English spending his time on? Some good old-fashioned beneficiary bashing.

English announced there will be new measures to get people off the Invalids’ Benefit yesterday. He claimed that “effectively we have 80,000 people where officially the welfare system has said they won’t work again” on the Invalids’. Not so, in any given year 10% of people go off the Invalids’ benefit.

The people on the Invalids’ are seriously unwell. 30% have psychological or psychiatric conditions, another 13% are intellectually disabled. There is no suggestion of ‘bludging’. There isn’t a ‘blow-out’ in the numbers on the Invalids’ either, it’s increasing just a touch above population growth due to the fact the population is aging (most people on the Invalids’ benefit are older – 72% over 40, 35% over 55).

Targeting these people will not save huge amounts of money, either. The average invalid beneficiary gets about $12,000 a year. To put that in perspective, we, the taxpayers, spent $50,000 in just the last three months paying for National ministers’ girlfriends overseas’ trips.

It remains to be seen what English is actually proposing to do to people on the Invalids’ but I won’t be surprised if the measures are actually pretty minor for all the hype – a trend from this government that talks big but delivers small (you know how many cars the Boy Racer Bill will crush? – fewer than 10 per year).

Whatever he does, the result is bound to be insignificant savings in government spending in return for more pressure on the incomes of the most vulnerable. Not the kind of stuff I would have thought the Finance Minister should be treating as a priority in these times.

Lastly, on benefits in general. For all National’s lies about benefit numbers going up under Labour, their record so far has been much worse. Not only have numbers on the dole tripled, the number of sickness beneficiaries skyrocketed by 17% in just the last year, fuelling the suspicion that National is trying to mask the number of unemployed by shifting people off the dole.

51 comments on “English’s strange priorities”

  1. Homo Domesticus 1

    Cant Bill English is corrupt. He must resign now or be tried for corruption. Rise citizens and oust the bludger English.

    Homo d.

  2. jcuknz 2

    >>>the Boy Racer Bill <<<
    You are not suggesting that Bill English is a boy racer are you?

  3. Sam 3

    Same old tired ideologies dressed up in the same old tired rhetoric.

    If only this country had a memory that went back longer than a few days.

  4. SHG 4

    $50,000 in just the last three months paying for National ministers’ girlfriends overseas’ trips

    First time I’ve heard that number. Can someone break it down?

  5. “There isn’t a ‘blow-out’ in the numbers on the Invalids’ either, it’s increasing just a touch above population growth due to the fact the population is aging (most people on the Invalids’ benefit are older 72% over 40, 35% over 55).”

    1999 40+ population = 1,544,000
    2008 40+ population = 1,904,000

    23.3 % increase

    1999 Invalid’s benefit = 51,284
    2008 Invalid’s benefit = 82,879

    61.6% increase

    Hardly “just a touch”.

    • snoozer 5.1

      lindsay – you shouldn’t be using the 40+ population – that includes retirees. I thought you were meant to be an expert on benefits?

      – working age population in 1999: 2.913 million
      – working age population in 2009: 3.372 million

      – number on invalids’ benefit 1999: 51,284
      – number on invalids’ benefit 2009: 84,544

      – % of working age population 1999: 1.8%
      – % of working age population 2009: 2.5%

      Call the cops! looks like a pretty insignificant increase to me and mostly down to the aging population I should think.

      Are you suggesting there’s bludging going on Lindsay? Any actual evidence?

    • ghostwhowalksnz 5.2

      was that the 40-65 population you used or the 40-90+ group . As you know at 65 they would become superannuitants

  6. I framed the stats around the claim.

    The working age population is 15-64 but the benefit numbers are for 18-64 year-olds. Your ‘working age population’ for 1999 is wrong by the way.

    If you want to use the applicable population, let’s.

    1999 18-64 years 2,347,000
    2008 18-64 years 2,647,000

    12.8% increase

    1999 Invalid’s benefit = 51,284
    2008 Invalid’s benefit = 82,879

    61.6% increase

    The number of people receiving an invalid’s benefit grew at nearly 5 times the rate of population growth in the 18-64 age group between 1999 and 2008.

    I say again, hardly “just a touch’.

    • snoozer 6.1

      i used the working age population numbers off infoshare.

      you know perfectly well that in the 1970s a large portion of the people who now get invalids were confined to institutions

      • ben 6.1.1

        Snoozer, Marty G said: “There isn’t a ‘blow-out’ in the numbers on the Invalids’ either”. The number of people in institutions in the 70s isn’t relevant to that.

    • ben 6.2

      I see Marty G is being pwned. Again.

      Well done, Lindsay.

      I rest my case.

      • lprent 6.2.1

        Not likely. What you are seeing is layabouts with time to be selective on their stats. Marty on the other hand has to work (like me) and therefore don’t have time to do this type of stuff during the day.

        Lindsey is incorrect, and so are you. Why do I know this? Because I’ve never seen her do a straight set of stats to date, it is always biased to what result she wants. I don’t think that she will have changed her long term trend just now. For that matter I’ve yet to see her link to the sources of her stats – the sure sign of a bullshit troll

  7. randal 7

    This government is the problem.
    Not the solution.

  8. roger nome 8

    I did a post on this last year when it was in policy document form.

    http://rogernome.blogspot.com/2008/08/nats-benefits-policies.html

    Lindsay – your claim that there’s been a a blow-out in invalids benefit numbers and spending is just plain ridiculous. We have an aging population, and most of the people on the invalids benefit are older, so you would expect that 0.7% more of the population would be on the invalids benefit over the last 10 years.

    You need to listen to this song IMO 🙂

  9. MSD research shows;

    “… that some of that growth was inevitable given population growth, population ageing, and the effects of the rise in the age of eligibility for New Zealand Superannuation from 60 to 65 years. But half the growth in inflows is explained by an increase in the proportion of people aged 1559 who came on to Invalid’s Benefit each year.”

    http://www.msd.govt.nz/about-msd-and-our-work/publications-resources/journals-and-magazines/social-policy-journal/spj29/understanding-the-growth-29-pages127-145.html

    Last week Treasury reported;

    “Growth in IB recipients has been ongoing for more than 30 years. From around 10,000 (0.3% of the population) in the mid-1970s, numbers receiving this benefit have increased, as a percentage of the population, by nearly eight times to more than 87,000 by mid-2009. There are many factors that have contributed to the growth of both SB and IB, such as the impact of an ageing population, increasing recognition and treatment of a wider range of conditions and removal of older age group work test exemptions from UB. Due to these factors and others, addressing the growth of SB and IB will not be easy. However, given they are two of the major
    factors driving up non-NZS welfare expenditure, it is an issue that could be considered among the mix of options to reduce overall spending.”

    This is a problem in many developed countries, a worse problem in fact. But governments aren’t simply ignoring or accepting it. Labour put a great deal of effort into addressing it also. Some people benefited from the intensive case management but incomers counteracted any reduction. You can dismiss concerns as ‘benefit bashing’ but that doesn’t improve the situation. There is a great deal of mental ill-health in the community and simply maintaining people on benefits and possibly isolating them in the process, isn’t enough.

    • BLiP 9.1

      Bill English says:

      “Effectively we have [more than] 80,000 people where officially the welfare system has said they won’t work again. We think that’s a waste of those people and of their potential so we want to look at how to encourage more people off those longer-term benefits.”

      It is National Ltd® that is doing the isolating and bashing with threats to remove entitlement and casting them in the public eye as bludgers. Yes, Labour did make a significant effort in this area but what would you rather do: gather them up in camps for mass treatment, shoe-factory work and sterilisation?

      What actually are you talking about?

      • ak 9.1.1

        ….and Double Dipstick is also blatantly lying with that statement: he’s included the SB figures to make up the 80,000, knowing full well that not only do many on SB work now, but that the assessment criteria clearly ensures that their impairment is only temporary.

        Further, even the IB criteria of “likely to last more than two years” certainly does not mean “won’t work again”. Many will, and indeed many do even in the meantime – certainly at reduced hours, but a contribution against the odds far surpassing that of many politicians.

        What Lindsay and the rest of these mean-spirited cripple-bashing tory hacks always fail to mention is the fact that every single recipient of the Invalids and/or Sickness Benefit is assessed by a medical professional: and that this assessment is open to challenge by DWI.

        By attacking the most unfortunate in society, these vile creeps are not only demonstrating a total and serpent-like lack of human empathy, but they are denigrating and impugning the ethics and capabilities of the entire medical profession. Scum is too nice a word for those who pick on the weakest.

        • Sam 9.1.1.1

          Agree entirely.

          Why are you nitpicking over figures? These are people who have degenerative diseases and cannot live a full and healthy life like the rest of us. Why are you so desperate to ostracise them even more?

          Again, as AK said, you have to go and prove every year that your generally genetic, degenerative disease still exists.How bloody absurd is that!?

  10. Herodotus 10

    I would be very surprised if Rodneys “friend” cost us 25k for this one trip. If she did Air NZ profits have been dramatically understated. Based on the iterinery published on the weekend, you would have to fly Virgin airlines into outerspace to have a bill like that. I am not supporting what he did, yet I believe someone is manufacturing these numbers to inflate for some reason.
    I have no answers as to cutting costs, yet somewhere within govt spending something has to give. If NZ does not grow at a considerable rate, have policies to share in this increase in wealth, then we will slowly sink in self interest and what ever party can sell themselves into power at the time. Then leaving a deteriorating mess for the next group of guys to fix up, at some stage we will be so far in it that we will have no ability to control our own destiny.

    • BLiP 10.1

      Hold the safety rail and take a deep breath – the total cost to the tax payers for carting Rodney’s partner around the globe, business class, is $25,163.

      Don’t worry about it, though, that’s the gross annual income of only two invalids. If we could just make a few more of these bludgers out there actually get off their misshapen arses and into work, rounding up supermarket trolleys or picking up rubbish around the drive-thru, we wouldn’t have to get all conspiracy-theorist about the ACT Party’s perks.

      • Herodotus 10.1.1

        I hope we all got great value out of $25k. I feel like an under class, as not being able to afford to travel, yet todo it in style. Is the current Business class to old 1st class?
        If it is I thought that the perks were not to cover travelling elite, just high enough not to have to sit next to a voter in cattle !!!

  11. Lindsay 11

    ak, The figures do not include sickness beneficiaries. That would add another 56,000.

    BLiP, Why do you have such a condescending attitude to people who round up supermarket trolleys and pick up rubbish?

    • BLiP 11.1

      Whatever perceived condenscension you are able to extract from my comment is more than matched by your cruelty towards invalids.

  12. Lindsay 12

    Iprent,

    My sources are the NZ Yearbook 1995, p170

    NZ Statistics population estimates

    And MSD benefit fact sheets

    I have no reason to misrepresent the available data.

    If I am incorrect please show or explain where.

    You said, “I’ve never seen her do a straight set of stats to date”

    Can you also give me examples of stats I have given that are ‘not straight’.

    • lprent 12.1

      I’ll dig out a few old posts if someone else doesn’t do it earlier. Also a few of your comments here over the last couple of years (some of the DPB ones stuck in my mind).

      For me, it may have to wait for the weekend as I’m kind of booked up for the rest of the week with work and some site work.

  13. Herodotus 13

    These people like those who pick up the rubbish, get no second thoughts or thanks until they are not there (Go on strike) then we find out how important they are. Just like those poor sods who clean offices, toilets etc. We all should show a bit of gratitude and respect for these people.

    • BLiP 13.1

      What about a minimum $15 per hour wage – or is that just a little too much respect to bear?

  14. Herodotus 14

    For those occupations that are paid basic wages, with WFF, state housing etc and other entitlements is that not a way that those who do earn more semi subsidise the lower end. You can show respect in more direct ways than just $$. A CEO taking time to talk to workers, just saying hello, smile these are all forms of show respect. Making someone elses job easier e.g leaving the trolley in the correct trolley bay not just left on the planting verg. Become a solution not part of the problem. And BLip I hope you have a great night

    • BLiP 14.1

      Right back at ya, Herodotus.

      But wouldn’t you agree that WFF and government payments to wage earners are really just subsidies for employers?

      • Herodotus 14.1.1

        That is one line of thought, another is that to live in this country there is a level of income that is required. Some occupations cannot be paid adequately to enable to reach this level (Great in theory if this could be done, but we would have to hit oil in a big way). As a good society we recognise this and adjust incomes accordingly. Many other counrties just pay min wage (e.g USA) and have illegal aliens creep over the boarder and fulfill these occupations without USA having to boast wages to live above the poverty line. UAE does the same with manual labour from Pakinst, India, Bangadesh. It is difficult for NZ to follow given we have major sea boarders!

        • BLiP 14.1.1.1

          So, the reason employers will not pay a living wage is that there are not enough illegal immigrants to whom they can pay an unlivable wage? Who would have ever thought that?

          • Herodotus 14.1.1.1.1

            Not what I was meaning. I wil try to explain Other countries use invisable labour souces and pay them accordingly. All that does is hide an issue of what a occupation is really worth by employing sweat shops to perform the function.
            Also what is a living wage stats NZ reported that a couple of years ago an average household spent about $950 week in outgoings, approx $50k. Do you think that is a resonable amount for a household to earn BLiP?

  15. Lindsay 15

    Herodotus, I agree. Showing appreciation and respect go a long way. Friends I know in low paid jobs express greater frustration at the way they are treated (by employers or customers) than at the level of their income. Which is as you say topped up by the state. Employers forced to pay more for labour will frequently use less of it.

    • lprent 15.1

      Which means that they have to invest capital in productivity improvements like plant and R&D.

      Hey what is the most significant cause of our lack of productivity increase here compared to other countries? Lack of capital investment by employers. They generally find it is more productive to invest in cheap labour than productivity enhancements. Raising labour costs is a good market signal to move the other way. It also causes a demand for the higher grades of skills that we need to run those more productive plants.

      A low wage economy like you’re implying is a negative sum game over the medium to long term. All it does is reduce the type of productive investments that need to be made for long-term profitability in favour of short-term profit taking. It is outright stupid.

  16. roger nome 16

    Lindsay:

    “half the growth in inflows is explained by an increase in the proportion of people aged 1559 who came on to Invalid’s Benefit each year.’

    Nice to see you at last admit that at least half the growth in IB numbers is insignificant. The only problem with the other half (yes, we’re now arguing over an extra 0.35% of the adult population being on the invalid’s benefit), is that the human body starts falling apart after the age of forty – i.e. the increase in the proportion of the population aged 40-59 will account for much of that 0.35% that you’re so worried about…..

    Face it – this is National back to beneficiary bashing, because they’ve got nothing better to spend their time on. They’d rather kick someone when their down than take the tough decisions like responsible adults. What despicable people they are.

    • Pascal's bookie 16.1

      “Face it this is National back to beneficiary bashing, because they’ve got nothing better to spend their time on”

      DPF admits over at dimpost that it’s not about saving money.

  17. CuriO 17

    It doesn’t sound like beneficiary bashing, I think Bill means what he says, it would be good to get a few of those people off the benefit if possible, what’s wrong with that?

    • BLiP 17.1

      Its about priorities and timing, Curio.

      There are far more urgent matters requiring policy and leadership that will have a far larger impact on reducing benefit numbers than simply starting off another round of feeding the talk-back taliban and their blog troll mates with another feast of beneficiary bashing as a deliberate tactic to distract from those areas.

      Geddit?

  18. jcuknz 18

    If they workers were more responsible and had fewer accidents/ illness there would be fewer going on the IB and the total might decrease as the “10% came off”. But the left has created the welfare state where irresponsibility is the norm. The answer is less Nanny State and more taking responsibility for one’s own behaviour.

    English should attack the irresponsiblity of worker and employer which cause additions to the IB as well as encouraging more to come off the benefit which is hard when there is a scarcity of jobs …. are they supposed to live on promises in a capitalistic state?

  19. roger nome 19

    CuriO

    “it would be good to get a few of those people off the benefit if possible”

    I agree – but of course there must be a balance. If, as part of running the system efficiently, you start denying people the IB that are in genuine need of it, you run the risk of doing more harm than good. i just don’t see any evidence to suggest that the system hasn’t achieved this sort of balance.

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