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Salvation Army report – NZ “Off the Track”

Written By: - Date published: 8:56 am, February 8th, 2017 - 57 comments
Categories: class war, housing, poverty - Tags: , , , , ,

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):

Introduction

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?

Our Children

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.

Housing

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?

Oddly enough, you won’t find many of these quotes in coverage by The Herald or Stuff.

57 comments on “Salvation Army report – NZ “Off the Track””

  1. jcuknz 1

    It is the difference between an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff [Nats] and a fence at the cliff top edge [Sallies].

    • weka 1.1

      Very generous of you to suggest that National is offering even an ambulance at the bottom.

      • saveNZ 1.1.1

        The Natz ambulance is privately run and charges taxpayer double markets rates who then charges the occupants who pay back out of their benefit…

        In short the ambulance is only there to make money for private firms and clear the cliff bottoms of bodies so that they remain out of sight.

      • Antoine 1.1.2

        Hmm?

        Here’s Labour supporting National’s measures to put in a fence at a top of a cliff:

        https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/hansard-debates/rhr/document/51HansD_20160601_00000012/social-security-extension-of-young-persons-services-and

        (Sound bite: “The bill requires all 19-year-old parents to access the Youth Service, including having a supportive relationship with a youth coach, parenting and budgeting courses, and support to engage in educational training. Making sure that these young parents have access to the support they need throughout their teen years will support positive outcomes for both them and their children.”)

        Admittedly Carmel Sepuloni expressed some reservations, but as it says at the bottom, Labour did vote for it.

        These sort of measures have halved NZ’s teen pregnancy rate during National’s term.

        A.

        • red-blooded 1.1.2.1

          Actually, Antione, this is a watered down version of a long-standing Labour policy. It’s hardly a surprise that they voted for it, although it’s not as comprehensive as the original policy (which would have seen secondary schools operating as hubs to organise ongoing mentoring of under 20s, and as one-stop-shops for provision of social services, career advice and support for job-seekers, coordination of ongoing training and tertiary education options, some primary healthcare services, counselling…etc).

          • Antoine 1.1.2.1.1

            > Actually, Antione, this is a watered down version of a long-standing Labour policy.

            Just for a change…

            A.

    • Philj 1.2

      You privatize the ambo @ the bottom of the cliff. Good for the bottom line.

  2. michelle 2

    Bill English and his social investment approach is not and will not work it hasn’t worked in USA and it won’t work here but it is his way of getting out of any social responsibility for vulnerable NZers by passing the buck and blaming people when they don’t have the means to help themselves.
    If we want to see a better and fairer NZ we need to invest in our people by educating them and providing them with the means to help themselves. We appear to be good at helping others but not our own we are too busy judging very sad indeed we have become like this.
    The tories have divided our country with their nasty talk and mean spirited policies exacerbating poverty.
    The ladder has been pulled away by the very people that benefitted from a prosperous welfare state.
    We must vote for a change of government the tories have had there chance and they haven’t delivered on the brighter future they promised we all know who has benefitted and will continue to until we get rid of this lot.

    • Stunned Mullet 2.1

      “If we want to see a better and fairer NZ we need to invest in our people by educating them and providing them with the means to help themselves.”

      What do you suggest ?

      • xanthe 2.1.1

        UB! !

        • BM 2.1.1.1

          Labour is not going to do a UBI, that would be electoral suicide

          • AB 2.1.1.1.1

            Quite possibly – because the only people we tolerate getting “something for nothing” are so-called investors getting unearned, untaxed capital gain – especially in the housing market.
            We don’t allow ordinary people to have free money because then they might lose their work ethic eh?

          • saveNZ 2.1.1.1.2

            BM giving advice to Labour! Just not sure why anyone would trust it!

            Hedge bets by offering a referendum on UBI – let Kiwis decide what they want.

      • michelle 2.1.2

        Stunned Mullet do you want me to do the gnats job for them. They cut funding for second chance learners and the most vulnerable we need bridge courses to fill the gaps we need good public education we need good social programs to address the rising social issues we now have in our country. Also we have far too many NEETS in our country and I think the gnats have no new ideas and want people like me to do the thinking for them when these muppets are getting paid for this and need to start doing their job

        • Sorrwerdna 2.1.2.1

          michelle – where were there cuts in second chance education?? As far as I’m aware there has been year on year increases with funding being prioritised to high performing providers

          • michelle 2.1.2.1.1

            night school gone this was a stepping stones to getting into education and one that worked for me , harder to get into universities for mature aged students, caps on social science degrees, increased costs to study , cuts to primary schools and mainstream schools budgets. Hence why we have principles burning out and leaving in there droves.
            Can you tell me Sorrwerdna what second chance educators got increases

            • garibaldi 2.1.2.1.1.1

              You are dead right Michelle, we must invest . Trouble is we have to admit it would be political suicide to propose investing in what has to be done because the amount is now astronomical. It’s not going to happen under our current system. Easier to promise more cops, just like the two Parties responsible for the dire straits we are now in are both doing, in the false hope of fixing things. DUH to them both.

          • UncookedSelachimorpha 2.1.2.1.2

            When I was a teenager and in my early 20’s in Christchurch , schools at night had well – attended night schools for adults who had missed out on school qualifications. I was able to attend adult polytechnic courses for interest (which I did while also at high school – mandarin Chinese and computer programming) . All this, including any later university, was 100% free, and university included a living allowance you could actually live on. It was not that long ago, and nz is just as wealthy now as it was then. The politicians who have destroyed all this, enjoyed it when they were young themselves . All this gone, just so the tax burden on the wealthy could be slashed.

  3. Tarquin 3

    I can remember back in the good old days when the Salvation Army were a church group that helped people. Somehow they have morphed in to a political pressure group. Maybe they should stick to their core business.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1

      Churches have always been political.

      But it’s not surprising that the RWNJs would try and defend the indefensible actions by this government by saying that people who do actually do good works shouldn’t criticise them.

      It’s the typical patronising BS that we always get from authoritarians as their beliefs and policies cause so much harm and people start calling them on it.

    • AB 3.2

      Maybe you should read the gospels? I am not religious myself but there is a very strong tradition of Christians speaking out in defence of human dignity and the intrinsic worth of each person.

    • shorts 3.3

      I guess in the good old days things weren’t getting progressively worse thus there was little need to try and pressure the powers that be to help kiwis, they did that by default

    • Whispering Kate 3.4

      Tarquin – Read your history dumbwit, for as far back as 1000 years ago and even before that churches, monastries and nunneries and have dealt with the vulnerable, nursed plague victims when nobody else cared enough to nurse them, built charity hospitals and cared for people who had fallen through the cracks. She-it some people give me a pain in the ass. The Sallies have been looking after very vulnerable people for as long as they have existed. If you want to talk rubbish do it somewhere else. These churches got very involved in politics – Thomas Beckett for one – get some history under your belt.

    • The Fairy Godmother 3.5

      Doubtless you are unfamiliar with the Bible. However Jesus does mention hell, not in relation to gay people or others who do not follow the personal morality proscribed by some conservatives. The people who he says in Matthew 25: 31 46 are destined for hell are those who didn’t feed the hungry, give a drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, take care of the sick and those in prison and didn’t welcome strangers. Interestingly it seems that the Salvation army are doing their best to follow the scriptures and good on them. The so-called Christians who follow the likes of Donald Trump, are, according to the scriptures they claim to follow are destined for hell.

    • Paul 3.6

      What a ghastly comment.

  4. Draco T Bastard 4

    NZ has been off track since the 4th Labour government introduced neo-liberal ideology to our nation. Since then we’ve seen a rise in poverty and a massive increase in inequality.

    The government now rules for the rich and not the people in general.

    • michelle 4.1

      Draco we need to move on from who started what and when it sounds like a kid saying but he did it so why cant I. In the last 8 years we have gone down hill why ask yourself why and how has this happened ?

      • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1

        I’d like to agree with you but we really do need to understand what went wrong. Without that then we can’t make a move in a better direction.

        Now, what went before then also didn’t work and it was failing. That was the pressure that pushed the neo-liberal reforms through. The difference is that back then we did care for our people.

        Now we’ve got a failing system, little to no care for our people and no apparent understanding of how we got here.

        The point is that it’s not just the last 8 years that we’ve gone downhill but the last 30+ if we add in the fact the the previous system, Keynesianism, was failing.

        What it comes down to is that we have to accept that capitalism itself simply doesn’t work and then we need to replace it.

        • Tarquin 4.1.1.1

          I don’t disagree with you on this subject Draco, what I’m trying to get across is that the Salvation Army were always utterly non judgemental, their only real rule is don’t drink. I have donated a lot of money to them over the years for this very reason and will continue to do so. I hope taking this tack doesn’t affect their income.

          • red-blooded 4.1.1.1.1

            Actually, the Sallies have not always been non-judgemental. They campaigned viciously against homosexual law reform. Again, this was a long time ago, but it’s still part of “always”. They do some great work, though, and deserve respect for the practical support they continue to offer all sorts of people and the moral courage they show in speaking up for the oppressed.

        • michelle 4.1.1.2

          I see what I see draco and I have been here all my life and my people have been here for thousand of years despite our history being told by others. I see in the last 8 years things have gotten worse we have experienced more begging more homelessness and this is what happens when we have a recession we all have to pay for others greed. I also see more racism and discrimination towards my people ( Maori) and divisiveness and it makes me very angry indeed when I know our people made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. You see what you want to see but your not Maori and your experiences of NZ are not the same as our peoples and never will be .

          • Whispering Kate 4.1.1.2.1

            Draco is correct, of course the past eight years has gone seriously down hill, but to learn from history you have to go back to the origins of how this neo-lib nightmare started, and sorry folks but it was a Labour Government under the pig farmer who got this ball rolling. Obviously National didn’t create this mess as they haven’t the bottle to do anything seriously disrupting to the country – they are gutless , Labour has always done the visionary things but this one time it got it terribly wrong. National just picked up the ball, breathed a sigh of relief, ran with it and embellished it like they would have loved to have done, had they the courage to do so.

            It’s Labour’s to own.

            • garibaldi 4.1.1.2.1.1

              Yes , it is Labour’s to own, but they won’t. They say they have ‘moved on’. What they are really saying is that they don’t want to spook the horses of Capital and to that end they are merely offering a slight tweak to ‘more of the same’. This to me is what is wrong with trying to unify the left at the moment. It’s just a Claytons effort if we remain in the clutches of Neoliberalism.

              • Draco T Bastard

                +1

                Yep, Labour say that they’ve moved on from then but then they come out with policies that fit that framework. It puts the lie to what they say and indicates that they don’t wish to go back and investigate, don’t wish to have people questioning them about it and that shows deceit.

                • red-blooded

                  Labour has always been the party of vision and change. Yes, the economic policies of the 4th Labour government were painful and extreme. (They did lots of other things that were worth celebrating.) They were reacting against a painful and extreme situation, though – a wage-price freeze (which froze wages but not prices), inflation nearing 20%, international lenders downgrading our credit status, rampant unemployment… The effects of Muldoonism were pretty bloody awful and they (presumably) thought they were opening up opportunities and giving people choices. They were heedless and out of touch and they went too far. Working people and beneficiaries paid the price. Lange’s “cup of tea” break came too late (but thankfully headed off the flat tax rate that Rogers wanted to impose).

                  I don’t think it’s fair to keep saying that Labour hasn’t addressed this issue, though. The policies of the Clark government were much more focused on giving support to those in need and on trying to reduce inequality, and current policies are driven by strong social values and a clear view of the responsibilities of the state. They aren’t using exactly the same mechanisms as they would have used in the 1930s, Draco, but that’s not “deceit”, it’s common sense. The world is different and while the driving principals may be very much the same (but now including many issues that weren’t considered when the party started), it’s not surprising that some different mechanisms may be used.

                  I think you’re being overly simplistic and overly negative about Labour, Draco. I also think it’s this kind of thinking that sees people opting out rather than getting politically active. If you don’t like what you see of Labour, then either:
                  a) Join up and work to change it from within, or
                  b) Vote and campaign for the Greens.

                  Either way, you’d be helping to elect a more caring government. Just bagging Labour achieves nothing positive.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    The effects of Muldoonism were pretty bloody awful

                    Ah, but was that the effect of Muldoon or capitalism?

                    Because from where I’m sitting, it looks remarkably the same. And we need to remember that the whole world was suffering at the time from the same malaise.

                    I don’t think it’s fair to keep saying that Labour hasn’t addressed this issue, though.

                    I do because they’re still maintaining the same policies. Sure, they’ve taken some of the sharp edges off but it’s still more about rewarding the rich for being rich than it is about making things better for the country as a whole. In other words, they still maintain capitalism.

                    They aren’t using exactly the same mechanisms as they would have used in the 1930s, Draco, but that’s not “deceit”, it’s common sense.

                    The reversion to common sense is the demand that everyone think the way you do no matter what the evidence shows. And the evidence really does show that capitalism doesn’t work.

                    Just bagging Labour achieves nothing positive.

                    It does have the possibility of doing so – if they bother to listen and do a bit of introspection and looking at the evidence. I really don’t see any of that happening though.

                  • Doogs

                    Thank you rb. This is the most sensible, comprehensive and clear-headed comment so far. There are so many rear-focused and blinkered commentators who are determined to ‘pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey’ that they place it anywhere but the correct spot.

                    Labour does represent forward thinking. Labour does have a socially focused agenda. Labour does recognise past faults. They have said so time and again. To re-hash past agendas and castigate the current set of MPs and party members for things done by others in a different time is madness – and seriously counter-productive. Think present day Germany vis-a-vis the Nazis.

                    Look people, get positive. We know the enemy. Let’s not turn the guns on ourselves. Support the left for a positive change.

    • Richard McGrath 4.2

      “The government now rules for the rich and not the people in general.”

      Surely if that were true the middle-class non-rich would have cottoned on years ago and stopped voting for them.

  5. Ad 5

    Not that I want to get the knotted cords out of the cupboard again, but as a practising Catholic it is bonkers that the only regular and coherent report about New Zealand’s social deprivation comes not from the largest and best-resourced Christian denominations, but from a tiny little uniformed bunch of Methodist splitters. And of course this is not to criticise every good bit of social work the Catholic church and its orders and staff and volunteers and workers are doing. I am really glad that the Sallies work so hard, and advocate so hard. Robust prophets are hard to find. Even harder to find ones that are listed to respectfully.

    Good on the Salvation Army for doing the job every Christian organisation should be doing.

  6. Michael 6

    I’m surprised you posted this as Labour does not come out well out of the Working For Families exercise (it deliberately excluded the children of people unable to work from its flagship poverty alleviation measure, for one thing). It’s media statement earlier today implies that using taxpayer funds to build a few $600,000+ houses for middle class Aucklanders (coincidentally, Labour’s key target market in this year’s campaign) will solve all the problems. This is disingenuous to put it mildly. Can I suggest you take a look at CPAG’s media statement instead, and click the link to its recommendations on how to make WFF into a genuine tool to reduce child poverty?

    • Korero Pono 6.1

      Michael +1. The WFF package was never designed to lift poverty levels for non-working families and frankly once tax cuts and GST changes were implemented from 2010, many families found themselves worse off. Food bank usage has increased significantly over the last 30 plus years and the only time during that period that food bank use actually dropped was when the Government of the time (think it was the Nats) loosened criteria for food grants, however that didn’t last long and food bank use sky-rocketed again. Meanwhile food banks nationally are reporting increased demand, with a significant number of working families now relying on charity to feed their families. We are being told this incredible lie that people who work are better off, try telling that to working families using food banks. Those in charge can come up with every conceivable social program to lift people out of poverty but if people don’t have enough money to live on and rents are too high then nothing is going to change. Meanwhile let’s subject the poor to budgeting and other programs to fix their supposed deficits and ignore the systemic causes of poverty. Labour or Nats it matters not to me, they are both complicit in what we see today.

  7. jcuknz 7

    I do not know if I am getting the right message by frequenting both KB and TS and reading what the nut jobs on both sites are writing?
    We have Weka et al. taking me literally when the Ambulance was not refering to the St Johns but the increase in police numbers and the concept of picking up the mess at the cliff bottom rather than doing something to stop folk from falling off the top.
    From KB I get the idea that all beneficiaries are bludgers … I am sure there are some but ‘Northland Wahine’ at the coalface told us some are, some are not.
    Then here at TS we have the concept that big business is the enemy which is also is rather silly.
    Since the National Party is proving to be quite left wing I see my idea of a meld being the logical solution and the left needs to discipline both itself [ the Willie Jackson carry-on] and those abusers of the system and support common sense measures, rather than foolish concepts .
    By the by as ex-media I get very angry and frustrated by front peoples views until I remember the Devils Advocate principle and try to work out if that is play or genuine views.
    Since National is the government it seems sensible for the more sensible lefties join it and stop the RW extremists from ruining what is left of NZ’s social security system and to build it up again..

    • Antoine 7.1

      jcuknz, don’t think you’re going to get much traction around here if you think National is left wing, good luck in the search for truth though

      A.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 7.2

      …big business is the enemy…

      I daresay you can find a few comments that might reflect that sentiment. Hardly a majority view. Looking askance at eg: Mr. Peter Talley and his human rights abuses is not the same thing.

      Neither is criticising the National Party for taking thinly-disguised bribes and selling government policy, not to mention public property.

      James Shaw’s commencement speech includes lots of praise for big business. Where was the chorous of criticism? In your mind?

  8. greywarshark 8

    “Avoidable harm” is a very apt term to describe what the neo libs both National and Labour have inflicted on the NZ lower income and a large number of young people.

    To attempt to turn the economy over to attempt greater efficiency and more exporting, should have been accompanied by intelligent use of the now excess man and woman power where there was a crying need for attention around the NZ rohe. But the ineptness of the politicians, and the silo vision of the economists du jour have left us with running sores that the government is uninterested in salving and curing. Despicable stuff.

    • Richard McGrath 8.1

      Don’t worry, GWS, any vestige of neoliberalism has been stamped out in Bill English’s National Socialist Party. According to the great man himself, the government’s agenda includes pay equity legislation, stronger taxation of multinationals, more social housing, reforming the RMA (probably making it even more fascist than it already is), and more spending on “infrastructure” (i.e. more public spending rather than deregulation and encouragement of the private sector). Lefties everywhere should be rejoicing!

  9. Charmaine 9

    It’s not just the North Island this is affecting in housing terms. I am a Registered Nurse working rurally in Otago. I have just been given notice to vacate my rented house after 6 years as my landlord needs it for staff. There is nothing for rent here in this little town. All the rentals and houses for sale at a reasonable price are gone. We have had an influx of kiwis here from Auckland, Hamilton and Christchurch who have been driven out of their home towns. Immigration and NZ being for sale to the entire world is the cause. My colleagues, friends and family can see what is happening to our beloved country. This has to stop. I hope NZ First for this reason alone gets a massive vote this coming election.

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