Social mobility policies do not address poverty

Written By: - Date published: 12:20 pm, July 15th, 2015 - 27 comments
Categories: benefits, class war, jobs, national - Tags: , , ,

Excellent work by RNZ, following up on previously redacted documents to expose this sham:

Govt told policies wouldn’t allay child poverty

Official papers reveal the Government was told its policies would do little to cut child poverty in the short to medium term.

The advice is included in a report Radio New Zealand first obtained under the Official Information Act last October. But the advice was withheld when the paper was released at that time.

In the paper dated 1 February 2013, officials wrote that the Government had a credible and wide ranging programme to address poverty which targeted a number of its causes and effects.

“The Government’s primary approach for addressing child poverty is to promote social mobility through paid employment driven by economic growth, clear work expectations and improved educational performance while ensuring that New Zealand’s social security safety net continues to support people who cannot support themselves.”

In last year’s release the following paragraph was deleted, but this time it has been included.

It reads: “However, in the short- to medium-term this programme is not likely to result in a large reduction in measured child poverty using an incomes or material deprivation basis. Recent experience with the Working for Families package has shown that it is possible to achieve significant direct reduction in poverty, but doing so requires significant additional investment.”

So social mobility policies do not address poverty in the short to medium term. The problem of poverty in NZ is immediate. “Social mobility” rhetoric, like the thoroughly discredited “trickle down”, is just a smokescreen, a cover for taking no effective action.

Even the Nats have conceded this with their recent (grudging) increase to base benefit rates (credit where it’s due but more is needed).

The only way to decrease poverty is to increase incomes. We need to raise wages and benefits. According to international evidence higher benefits makes people more likely to want to work. According to both the OECD and the IMF decreasing inequality would be very good for the economy.

We know what we need to do. Why are the Nats ignoring all this advice?

Update: Almost simultaneously – Govt aware it’s doing little to help child poverty: report

27 comments on “Social mobility policies do not address poverty”

  1. shorts 1

    we all know why national ignores the obvious, they don’t care that much and low wages benefits them and their supporters

    what i’d like to know is why labour still preaches work as the answer to so many similar problems when we all know there will never be enough jobs for all and many of the jobs there are pay badly and give no security

    • Michael 1.1

      Well said: Labour’s hands are far from clean on child poverty. Just look at the battle CPAG had trying to get the judicial branch of government to look at the discriminatory elements of Working For Families. Just like playing the race card, keeping kids hungry, cold and sick is good politics these days.

  2. Charles 2

    “…“However, in the short- to medium-term this programme is not likely to result in a large reduction in measured child poverty using an incomes or material deprivation basis…”

    Yeah, it was farcical when it was implied that if we gave a child in poverty two new pair of shoes and a hamburger, they’d magically rise above themselves, their pasts, their present, social prejudice and their environment. All they needed to do was think of a Brighter Future and it would be so. Hahahaha!

  3. Gosman 3

    The problem of child (relative) poverty is not immediate. It is a long term issue that has been up and down si nce the mid to late 1990’s. Outr rates of child poverty are about average amongst the OECD and are lower than Australia I believe (or at least comparable).

    • Paul 3.1

      So you don’t care about them, right?

      • Gosman 3.1.1

        Is that what I stated?

        • Paul

          No but all you did was compare us with others.
          You expressed no disgust or moral repulsion for the level of poverty here.
          Do you care?

        • Michael

          That’s certainly what you implied. Shame on you.

          • Gosman

            It is not what I implied at all. All I stated is the problem is not an immediate one given it has been around for decades (if not longer). You may want it to be an immediate problem but then you should make your case why that should be. Simply pointing out that it exists does not make it an immediate problem. For example NZ has multiple problems in a number of areas (such as persistent Current account deficits, Budget Deficits, Low Savings rate, etc) . Treating them all as immediate would likely not lead to good policy decisions long term.

            • odot

              The issue of child poverty is an immediate issue. There are up to 260,000 kids living in poverty according to govt data. If children living in poverty isn’t an immediate issue that needs to be dealt with as soon as possible, then what does constitute an immediate issue? These kids are living in dire conditions, and you’re saying that the issue needs to be long term?
              I’ll agree with you that there does need to be a long term approach to poverty reduction, but that is no excuse to not do anything in the short term to alleviate those currently living in poverty.

              • Gosman

                an immediate issue is one that if it isn’t dealt with immediately it will cause irrepairable damage to the nation. What evidence do you have that irrepairable damage has occured to NZ?

                • odot

                  The definition of poverty is being in “material hardship” or being unable to afford basic necessities such as fruit and vegetables, shoes and clothing, heating.

                  “Some of the negative health outcomes statistically associated with childhood poverty include: low birth weight; infant mortality and Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI); poorer mental health and cognitive development; and higher rates of hospital admissions for infectious and respiratory diseases, which are often associated with living in crowded household conditions [1]. Children who grow up in poverty are also more likely to have poorer health outcomes in adulthood, such as heart disease and addictions” quote from

                  Would recommend this link too:

                  • Gosman

                    Sure. Totally agree. How have those statistics been trending in New Zealand over the past 20 years that Child poverty has been getting worse?

                    • odot

                      “In the longer run AHC (After deducting Housing Cost) child poverty rates in 2013 were close to double what they were in the late 1980s mainly because housing costs in 2013 were much higher relative to income than they were in the late 1980s.”

                      “Using MSD’s Economic Living Standards Index (ELSI), hardship rates for children rose from 15% in the 2007 HES to 21% in HES 2011, then fell to 17% in HES 2012. The trend finding is robust, though the actual levels at any time depend on a judgment call on the threshold used.”

                      From the MSD:

                    • Tracey

                      forget 250,000… how many is ok?

                    • Gosman

                      You misunderstood my question. If Child poverty does cause massive issues for the country long term then we should be able to identify the trends over the past couple of decades. Do you have evidence of this?

            • Tracey

              Funny, you couldn’t bring yourself to state that you gave a shit though about hungry children getting sick in unhealthy homes, on poor diets trying to learn.

      • Sabine 3.1.2

        well if we wait long enough they will be young adults. see, child poverty eliminated. Now they are poor adults, who don’t try hard enough, who are lazy bludgers depending on the awesome lifestyle that winz provides so generously.

        And he also knows that, the best examples about social welfare that works are their PM No State Housing for You John Key, and Ms. I like my benefits and yours too Paula Bennett. Both are still very much in the not trying hard enough bludger scene. Still fully depended on the Taxpayers generosity.

        • shorts

          I don’t care about how our poverty rates compare to others…. we can and should have a society devoid of poverty for young and old

          I await a political party that makes this sort of simple human based policy their core belief

    • Tracey 3.2

      it is immediate for some people Gosman… How many are acceptable to you?

  4. Sable 4

    National helped create this problem, why would they care about resolving it.

    • Michael 4.1

      So did Labour – while it cries crocodile tears in Opposition, its track record is dirty.

      • Tracey 4.1.1

        sooooo… keep National cos labour are no better? Or something else?

        NO party yet has a moral compass. It also has no coaltion partners with amoral compass…

        LP looks to NZF
        NP looks to ACT, UF, MP

        so let’s vote in a party that can be a moral compass for the others… people first

  5. NZJester 5

    The National government has a safe and secure future all planned out for them all once they come of age.
    By depriving them now they are trying to guarantee that a lot of them will get into drugs, gangs and crime.
    They will have a lovely safe future locked up in the private prisons partly owned by National politicians trust fund kids, party sponsors and over seas investors.
    If they don’t start depriving them now they will not have a good stock of people to lock up in all the private prisons they want to build.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.1


    • Tracey 5.2

      Wayne Mapp moves from Cabinet to Law Commission for a cool 250k… per year.. still comes on here and promotes his particular ideology with jibes like “hard left” etc…

  6. Draco T Bastard 6

    So social mobility policies do not address poverty in the short to medium term.

    Won’t address it in the long term either. In fact, due to declining social mobility as shown by our increasing inequality caused by the neo-liberal attack on our fair land, all that National’s policies will do is further entrench poverty.

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