- Date published:
8:56 am, February 8th, 2017 - 61 comments
Categories: class war, housing, poverty - Tags: brighter future, housing, ineaquality, poverty, salvation army, state of the nation
The Salvation Army has just released its own annual “state of the nation” report. While news is mixed, the overall finding is that we are “off the track” and without a plan. From the report (pdf):
However, in some of our most critical areas the nation appears to have stalled or even gone backwards. In publishing this report, The Salvation Army wishes to particularly highlight the following areas:
• seemingly entrenched rates of child poverty and child abuse
• the burgeoning incarceration rates of prisoners, along with high recidivism rates
• an alarming lack of safe, affordable housing that has resulted in a level of homelessness not seen in New Zealand in the lifetime of most Kiwis.
These concerns alone seem sufficient reason to ask the question: Are we off the track?
Of greatest disappointment is the persistence of child poverty, which appears to have become embedded in New Zealand’s social and economic settings. The culpability of Government in this lack of progress should be noted —especially through its welfare reforms, which have yet to identify any positive impacts on the lives of poorer New Zealand children.
The Working for Families package of income support was introduced in 2006 in a bid by the Labour-led Government to reduce child poverty, especially amongst working poor families. The programme had this effect, halving child poverty rates amongst working families.7 However, since 2010, the value of Working for Families has been eroded through an opaque series of adjustments to thresholds and abatement rates.
The absence of any meaningful progress in reducing child poverty rates over the past decade—and the lack of interest by Government in using welfare and income support programmes to do so—points to wilful indifference toward the long-term personal and social impacts of this avoidable harm.
There is little, if any, good news in the housing area unless you are a property speculator, residential property investor or own shares in a bank involved in mortgage lending.
Auckland’s housing shortage has continued to worsen on the back of record immigration. The average sale price of an Auckland house topped $1 million, and housing in that region became yet less affordable with house prices and rents continuing to rise much faster than wages and salaries. Auckland’s difficulties with housing affordability appear to be spreading to other cities in the top of the North Island.
Housing debt and household indebtedness also reached new record highs despite efforts by the Reserve Bank and the main trading banks to curb highly geared lending. Outside of these Reserve Bank’s measures and Government’s small efforts to prop up emergency housing providers with emergency funding, there have been few if any credible public policy initiatives to address these growing problems.
Returning again to the Introduction, it concludes as follows:
In an election year, it is timely to challenge all who would aspire to govern—and, in fact, all New Zealanders who are part of the fabric of Aotearoa New Zealand—to think deeply about the social progress we want to achieve for ourselves and our children. Are we heading off the track in a way that benefits only a few (and perhaps only in the short term), while leaving others at risk? Or will we work together to establish a track leading to a New Zealand where all children and families are able to live, grow and be supported to flourish in a nation we might gladly call ‘God’s own’. The question all voting citizens will consider this year is: Who has the insight, the imagination and the courage to identify a path that might lead to such a country?
— Morning Report (@NZMorningReport) February 7, 2017
"We have an economy that gives us the opportunity to do something about poverty, but we are not doing it". Allan Johnson #stateofthenation
— Grant Robertson (@grantrobertson1) February 7, 2017