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Poverty Watch 15

Written By: - Date published: 9:49 am, December 8th, 2012 - 10 comments
Categories: national, poverty - Tags:

Welcome to Poverty watch, a weekly update on the National government’s lack of response to the urgent and growing issue of poverty in NZ. A lot of background issues and links are set out in Poverty Watch one two and three.

Just a short note today, because I’m in transit, and because I’m expecting to do a special edition of Poverty Watch early next week.

Two huge social issues collide, with predictable effects, in the interaction between poverty and education. Nothing highlights the Nats’ cynical attitude to poverty as the way they ignore it as a cause, while using its educational symptoms (the poor achievement of the poor) to push stupid ideological bandwagons like national standards and charter schools. On Friday The Herald had a short piece on the bleeding obvious:

Poverty a giant hurdle to learning

Damp homes and hunger our biggest test at school, say decile 1 pupils.

Poverty, to children in Glen Innes, means hunger, no proper shoes – and deafness associated with growing up in damp and overcrowded houses.

Three out of six 11-year-olds at Glen Innes School who agreed to talk about child poverty have needed hearing aids or grommets and believe this is because of the houses they live in. …

The Glen Innes children spoke to the Herald as Children’s Commissioner Dr Russell Wills prepares to release the final report of his expert group on solutions to child poverty next Tuesday. A separate report issued today on the views of 278 children in low-decile schools also found children concerned about cold and damp houses, inadequate food, lack of money for sport and other activities, and being mocked and bullied for being poor.

The policies needed to address this situation are not national standards and charter schools.

The report backs up proposals in the expert group’s interim report in August for a “warrant of fitness” for all rental houses, a food programme in low-decile schools and higher family tax credits for young children.

Labour has proposed exactly such a warrant of fitness.

In other news briefly, “Poverty action group aims to help beneficiaries get full due“, and a lunchtime rally at Parliament coming up on 12th Dec. Stay tuned for more next week…

Poverty Watch always ends with the following list, the National government’s response to rising poverty in NZ:

• National has not yet set any target for reducing poverty
• ?

10 comments on “Poverty Watch 15 ”

  1. QoT 1

    Cue the inevitable NACT response, a la Melissa Lee: “OMG you’re saying poor people are stupid!!! How dare you? We’re being ~aspirational~ for them!!!”

  2. karol thrace viper 2

    Nothing highlights the Nats’ cynical attitude to poverty as the way they ignore it as a cause,

    Actually, one of the main ways the NAct government has shifted the MSM & opposition focus away from poverty, is to focus politics on the money men and their power games: Key, English, Parker, Cunliffe, Norman.

    This can be seen on MSM articles by Armstrong et al, as highlighted on other threads. By focusing on Russel Norman and his financial credentials, as a deputy PM, Metiria Turei’s focus on poverty issues is marginalised.

    This is the NActs calling the shots.

    Thanks for keeping the poverty issues well up on TS agenda, Anthony – and showing that this is men’s business, too.

    And let’s see if this solidarity thing works….

    • r0b 2.1

      Thanks for keeping the poverty issues well up on TS agenda, Anthony – and showing that this is men’s business, too.

      Cheers karol. The welfare of kids should be everyone’s business.

  3. AsleepWhileWalking 3

    Housing stability effects children just as much.

    How can you learn when your parent(s) are shifting from place to place and having difficulty paying the exorbitant rents?

    Since over 50% of people already own their own home they aren’t affected. The minority who rent are held to ransom with HNZ homes nearly impossible to get. This could only affect 2% of the country but those children are just as important to nurture as any other.

    Housing instability can have devastating impact upon education, psychology and future performance.

  4. NoseViper (The Nose knows) 4

    A warrant of fitness for rented houses is long overdue. The law did state the minimum that rentals were supposed to have, but I don’t know whether it is ever invoked. If housing is short that’s a strong disincentive to complain. And when rental places are managed by real estate companies, they can have personnel who are totally uninterested in the tenants’ needs though quick to find fault. Though in light of NACTs move to dismantle very necessary regulations for safe cars by only requiring WOFs for cars once a year, having other practical measures for housing for the benefit of the poor would be anathema to them. Old Labour would get a tick if they introduced it.

    The 2% that are affected by social difficulties as well as poverty and not able to achieve a good education, would show up as a large rise in statistics if their situation could be changed for the better. Statistically if their data were separated and monitored, there might be an 80% rise in test and exam results. Great results arise when there is improvement from an original low level. Let’s give it a go, nurture these ones and spend a little less on private integrated schools.

    I strongly agree with Anthony’s summation of the two-faced machiavellian NACT attitude to education.

    Nothing highlights the Nats’ cynical attitude to poverty as the way they ignore it as a cause, while using its educational symptoms (the poor achievement of the poor) to push stupid ideological bandwagons

  5. Tim 5

    FYI…excellent series on poverty “Why Poverty” running on BBC WN atm.
    Most will have missed the World Debate last week in which a smug Tony Blair was present – though his true colours were exposed in today’s “Stealing Africa” documentary.
    Have a look. http://www.bbc.co.uk/whypoverty for more

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