The neoliberal reforms of the 80’s and 90’s left this country with sharp increases in poverty and inequality. The last Labour government improved matters a little, mainly via Working For Families (which John Key called “communism by stealth”). The current National government is making things worse again.
The Nats’ only criteria for success is reducing the costs of welfare. So we get press releases like this:
REPORT SHOWS REFORMS ARE WORKING
Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has welcomed the release of a detailed report into the benefit system, which confirms that welfare reform is contributing to huge savings for taxpayers in the decades ahead.
“There are over 38,000 fewer people on benefits compared to three years ago, and the number of children in benefit dependent households has fallen by almost 42,000 over the same period. “The number of young mothers requiring a benefit has almost halved since 2009.
Here are some other headlines from this New Zealand in which welfare reforms are “working”:
Number of Kiwi kids in poverty jumps by 60,000
The shame of child poverty in NZ
New child poverty report shows NZ’s made no progress
Auckland homelessness: Rough sleepers tally doubles
Poverty blamed for leap in infectious disease admissions
Disease figures a national ’embarrassment’
Working poor at ‘crisis’ point
Working poor: When a job isn’t enough
AUDIO: HOW DO WE DEAL WITH AN INCREASING NUMBER OF BEGGARS ON THE STREETS?
Hamilton plan to ban rough sleeping
Tough times blamed for surge in food parcel demand
Big demand puts pressure on foodbank
Kiwi kids face school year without the essentials
and so on and so on.
With the budget coming up, these topics are “enjoying” one of their occasional bouts of media attention. Three good pieces on Stuff today:
Rising inequality has been the norm in most developed countries, but few have seen it increase by as much as New Zealand. [read on for lots of good graphs]
A Canterbury Community Law (CCL) investigation, which looked at access to justice for beneficiaries, said beneficiaries felt they were treated as “non-humans” by Work and Income – not even allowed access to toilets during lengthy waits at offices. Fear was at a level where people were forgoing entitlements from Work and Income, instead going to non-government organisation’s food banks, or the Mayor’s Welfare Fund because of previous negative experiences, the report said.
Pensions have risen by $67 a week in the last five years – while the incomes of parents of children born into low income and beneficiary households have fallen further and further behind. … Prime Minster John Key admitted on Sunday that children were increasingly worse off in relation to retired New Zealanders – and confirmed measures in the budget to arrest the decline.
So the budget will arrest the decline? We have heard such promises again and again from John Key, and nothing happens. Prediction – whatever moves are in this budget to arrest the decline they will be about as effective as National’s new capital gains tax.