The shame of poverty in NZ

Written By: - Date published: 7:11 am, June 6th, 2015 - 30 comments
Categories: class war, national, poverty - Tags: , , , , ,

A piece in The Herald yesterday outlines the shame of poverty in NZ:

NZ children suffer higher relative hardship than 20 European countries

The title is confusing. The measures of poverty discussed are absolute, not relative measures. “Relativity” enters in to it when comparing children to other age groups in the population.

Children are more likely to be in material hardship relative to the rest of the population in New Zealand than in any European country, the Ministry of Social Development says.

Worse than any country in Europe.

A ministry report prepared for the child poverty package in last month’s Budget, published online yesterday, found that 18 per cent of Kiwi children lacked at least five out of 13 items of material wellbeing in 2008, compared with only 11 per cent of the whole population and 3 per cent of the elderly aged 65-plus.

New Zealand’s ratio of child deprivation to the whole population average, with children suffering at 1.6 times the average, was higher than in any of 20 European countries for which the same data was available.

It’s good that we take care of our elderly. But it shouldn’t be at the expense of children.

The 13 measures of material wellbeing included “having a meal with meat, fish or chicken every second day”, “keeping the home adequately warm,” “having two pairs of properly fitting shoes” and “having one week’s annual holiday away from home”.

The report also looks at NZ data for a wider list of 17 items including measures of hardship such as “postponed visits to the doctor”, “put up with feeling cold to save on heating costs” and “borrowed money from family or friends more than once in the last 12 months to cover everyday living costs”.

Again children were more likely than the general population to live in households with these hardships. For example, 19 per cent of children lived in homes that borrowed to cover everyday living costs, compared with 13 per cent of the whole population.

Poverty fell under the last Labour government, leapt up with the 2008 recession. Since then there is some evidence that it has fallen again, but not to pre 2008 levels. But then there’s this, also yesterday, by Jessica Sinclair for the Child Poverty Action Group:

Child poverty figures – fix the problem, not the warning light

On 25th June the Department for Work and Pensions will release updated figures on poverty, including child poverty, for 2013-14.

These figures were delayed until after the election, meaning the last government went into a General Election with child poverty figures available only up to the end of March 2013 –  that’s before most of the austerity-driven benefit cuts had been implemented.

The delay enabled government ministers to make repeated claims that child poverty had fallen during the last parliament, a claim that is unlikely to survive the publication of the 2013-14 figures. Independent experts including the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the New Policy Institute expect the number of children in poverty to have risen, probably by around 300,000. Even more worryingly, they see this rise as part of a longer term upward trend in the number of children growing up in hardship.

Even if these projections are inaccurate, there’s no disputing that the Government’s child poverty strategy is failing – it simply isn’t going to meet the legal targets to end child poverty by 2020.

Let’s hope that the predictions of an increase in child poverty are wrong. Let’s hope that we don’t have to see any more headlines like this:

death-damp-house

30 comments on “The shame of poverty in NZ”

  1. Tracey 1

    r0b

    I am confused, can poverty be measured, or not? Bennett was adamant it couldn’t be measured when she was Minister for Social Development, yet now it seems MSD might be suggesting it can be measured?

    • miravox 1.1

      I’m sure Bennett only said NZs poverty that can’t be measured. Reasons unclear. Other similar countries measure theirs all the time.

      Although the commissioner for children disagreed with Bennett’s view. http://www.nzchildren.co.nz/introduction.php

      • vto 1.1.1

        Bennett is part of this shameful government. She is a liar and cannot be trusted.

      • Tracey 1.1.2

        See, that’s why it is so confusing. But then, THAT’s the purpose isn’t it?

        This smoke and mirrors government doing “caring by cost/benefit analysis, and compassion by actuarial assessment.

        • miravox 1.1.2.1

          Absolutely. People can get so confused it all becomes meaningless doesn’t it? I mean, if all it is is counting pairs of shoes, I know heaps of kids who are doing ok that meet the criteria.

          /sarc.

          Some days I get as heatedly angry as vto (below). Other days I’m just coldly furious that NZers can consider this situation for children in a well-off country is acceptable or even worse, is deserved.

          • Tracey 1.1.2.1.1

            ditto. especially as no one i know who cares about what is happening is calling for unaccounrable money thrown at these areas. no one wants to waste monet yet that is the constant accusation…

            27m on the flag for example…

        • Sable 1.1.2.2

          This government wouldn’t know the truth if it tap danced thought cabinet. This is disgraceful and there is worse to come. The disgusting MSM have a role in this too as enablers for these bastards.

      • Stuart Munro 1.1.3

        Bennett is right though, it can’t be measured because NZ’s poverty is infinite – being a product of her government’s intellectual poverty. I’ve grown smarter vegetables than this lot.

        I mean Bill English is still there. Hard to believe: if you had a dog that was losing $300 million a week you’d shoot it. It’d be kinder really.

    • r0b 1.2

      Poverty can be measured if you want to. The Nats have always known about the power of measurement:

      Measuring poverty

      Mr English said the valuation [of benefit costs] was an important “performance tool” and would change the behaviour of the Government by forcing it to confront the long-term issue rather than accepting it was an unavoidable cost. … “When you take a long-term model, there’s no place to hide.”

      The Nats don’t measure poverty because they don’t want to know. There are none so blind…

  2. vto 2

    John Key should be ashamed.

    It disgusts me that we have children dying because of shoddy housing. The leader of a community should FIRST ensure all members of that community have a safe warm and healthy place to sleep at night. There is nothing that should be higher in priority.

    Disgusting pigs.

    Money for dairy irrigation, money for Rio Tinto, money for Americas cup, money for Americas wars, money for casinos, money for fucking everybody except those who fucking need it.

    I am ashamed of our society, which continues to elect people like Key with those priorities. I am ashamed of the attitudes and philosophies of the people around me, in close proximity who live with these priorities and vote John Key. They too disgust me.

    New Zealand disgusts me in its current form.

    We should be hanging our heads in absolute shame

    shame
    shame
    shame

    • Draco T Bastard 2.1

      The leader of a community should FIRST ensure all members of that community have a safe warm and healthy place to sleep at night.

      And food on the table.

      John Key should be ashamed.

      I’m reasonably certain that he’s never felt shame in his life.

  3. Tracey 3

    Maybe NZ’s poor need to move to Queen Street for a week and love on that main street. Just to show how many there are.

    Good on the Green Party for standing up, and THIS is how a partnership of sorts with LP can work. Laour can be the appeal to the everyman BS they want (whatever the everyman is), and the Greens can be the compassion, and when/if they get enough seats together LP can say these are the compromises we will make… and they turn out to be humane ones, where the vulnerable are at centre, not on the margins.

    BUT someone has to start having the brains to take on the myths… with pithy comebacks repeated ad nauseum til they take hold, with examples from the majority of those on benefits who are not bludgers, of the hard working struggling to get by… of the unemployed who were employed when they had the children the haters are now saying they shouldn’t have had…

    and do it like National does, over and over

    • Sabine 3.1

      I have been saying for a while now that we should start up Key-Villes in our Domains and Parks.
      Let those that don’t care see what their attitude creates. Of course the Police would come and arrest us, but that too would be par for the course.

      I really really would love for a polititian of the opposition to put forth a bill for the opening of grand cricket places and rugby fields to be opened for shack living in NZ.

    • Sabine 3.2

      Phil Twyford has been very good at this. I like his questioning of Nick Smith and others. IT always makes for a good laugh and a good cry.

  4. Charles 4

    I’ll spare you the “I lived in Europe” story and cut to the chase…

    The MSD will have a hard time selling their measures of hardship to an unsympathetic majority – as if that was ever their intent. Butter wouldn’t melt…

    The article is a reversed-but-same attitude that has been prevalent in NZ culture all my life: Someone has it worse, so shut up about your problems. Now it’s become: If we set the bar high enough that the aspirant classes will laugh, we’ll shame people falling into poverty, and those trying to halt the descent, into shutting up. I mean really, how stupid do they think we are? Bricks. That’s what we need. Fast Post a brick to the Herald. During office hours.

    The argument shouldn’t ever be allowed to become “how bad can we let it get before we feel guilty about what we’ve done and try to adjust it” and those reported measures of hardship will allow that argument to re-activate, and purposely seeks that direction. Bad job. Really fucking malicious reporting on behalf of the Herald, actively malicious terms of reference from the MSD. Only bright side is at least Jessica Sinclair didn’t buy into it.

  5. Foreign Waka 5

    Yes, there are hungry children and families in poverty. The only relativity is how many at any given time – i.e. 1930, 1945, 1970, 1990 etc… The earthquake in Christchurch has worsen the situation by a staggering amount due to the absolutely unbelievable neglect of providing basics (not luxuries Mr Brownley) to families. I have been to Christchurch last month and what I saw was heartbreaking – 4 years on! The only thing that seem to have happened is the bulldozing of everything. Someone, somewhere made a fortune because this is not normal with the supposed billions spent. My first question of the day: where the heck is the money gone? Worse the Fifa, I say.
    Secondly, the policy of envy is now fully played out. To compare the children’s plight to that of elderly smacks of utter nastiness. Firstly, and lets be clear about that, most of the elderly have worked all their lives and contributed with their taxes to building this nation. Secondly, most of the elderly are just scraping by and have been brought up not complaining. Many, many and more die before they get medical treatment (how ghastly is that!) living on very little and hope to not be a burden! The pictures on TV with retirement homes filled with well to do older people are just advertisement – get it?
    And all of them are mothers and fathers of a generation that seem to be constantly pointing fingers instead of growing some guts to make a political statement and build “their” nation – articulate and vote. If it is to be equality for all- don’t wait for the elderly to do it for you (again) and don’t use the children as a shield to build an argument.
    Yes, there are many people who just have enough, and there are many who are poor. No relativity here if you cant feed, cloth and house your family.
    The current government gives into the rich “I want” list and Labor has not shown any vision what an alternative society could look like. And this is what is lacking, everybody sits back and waits for someone to invent the next gadget that will fix all. Meanwhile, NZ is becoming a peasant country.

  6. Foreign Waka 6

    Yes, there are hungry children and families in poverty. The only relativity is how many at any given time – i.e. 1930, 1945, 1970, 1990 etc… The earthquake in Christchurch has worsen the situation by a staggering amount due to the absolutely unbelievable neglect of providing basics (not luxuries Mr Brownley) to families. I have been to Christchurch last month and what I saw was heartbreaking – 4 years on! The only thing that seem to have happened is the bulldozing of everything. Someone, somewhere made a fortune because this is not normal with the supposed billions spent. My first question of the day: where the heck is the money gone? Worse the Fifa, I say.
    Secondly, the policy of envy is now fully played out. To compare the children’s plight to that of elderly smacks of utter nastiness. Firstly, and lets be clear about that, most of the elderly have worked all their lives and contributed with their taxes to building this nation. Secondly, most of the elderly are just scraping by and have been brought up not complaining. Many, many and more die before they get medical treatment (how ghastly is that!) living on very little and hope to not be a burden! The pictures on TV with retirement homes filled with well to do older people are just advertisement – get it?
    And all of them are mothers and fathers of a generation that seem to be constantly pointing fingers instead of growing some guts to make a political statement and build “their” nation – articulate and vote. If it is to be equality for all- don’t wait for the elderly to do it for you (again) and don’t use the children as a shield to build an argument.
    Yes, there are many people who just have enough, and there are many who are poor. No relativity here if you cant feed, cloth and house your family.
    The current government gives into the rich “I want” list and Labor has not shown any vision what an alternative society could look like. And this is what is lacking, everybody sits back and waits for someone to invent the next gadget that will fix all. Meanwhile, NZ is becoming a peasant country.

  7. tracey 7

    Funyy what they can always find money for

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11460627

    “Housing New Zealand paid an investment banker $1.6 million to help it sell state houses, official documents show.

    Low-profile Auckland banker Andrew Body gave advice to the Minister of Housing and secured lucrative contracts to implement the policy while also advising potential buyers of state housing stock – a dual role attacked by the Labour Party as a conflict of interest.

    Housing New Zealand (HNZ) and Mr Body say correct procedures were followed, and conflicts were declared where required.

    Mr Body was appointed in 2010 by then-Minister of Housing Phil Heatley to the housing shareholders advisory group, then later to an advisory panel to help form government policy on social housing.

    Part-way through these appointments, at the end of 2011, HNZ contracted his company, Andrew Body Ltd (ABL), to conduct work in the “asset transfer workstream”.

    Its job was to “provide advice in regard to scoping the transfer of social housing stock from HNZ” to non-government and private sector parties.”

  8. coaster 8

    sigh.

    i tried to explain that ive seem things get worse over the last 2 years( on the ground, not in fact and figures), in particular with hungry kids. the standard reply (from good people) is that its the parents fault and if start feeding kids it will make things worse.

    Not feeding the kids is making things worse, hungry kids disrupt classes, kids from poverty disrupts classes, poverty brings everyone down. The old saying the a team is only as good as its weakest link is very true, nz is a team , we need those weak links helped up so we all can do well.

    We dont need to measure something that is staring us in the face, we need to realise its there and fix it.

    • ropata 8.1

      that’s the gnat strategy. deny there’s a problem, stop measuring it, hide the figures, then do a half arsed solution when the truth gets too embarrassing.

  9. Amanda Atkinson 9

    We don’t have poverty here. Children are not starving to death. People are not living in shanty towns. I’ve just been to south America. You idiots don’t have a clue what poverty is. Now, should we wait til we get like Brazil or India or mexico before we address the issue of people falling through the cracks? No. But stop exaggerating, and more people might take it seriously. Saying we have poverty is an insult to the people of Brazil etc. Get some perspective please.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 9.1

      Hi, idiot here.

      There are two components to this answer.

      One, Epidemiology informs us that universal social harm is proportional to a given country’s income inequality. Before you say it, no, that doesn’t mean the best value of the GINI coefficient is zero.

      Two, there are internationally agreed measures of poverty and some* NZ kids meet the criteria whether you like it or not.

      *one would be too many. It’s more than one. Google is your friend.

    • ropata 9.2

      you are comparing with developing countries? will you only do anything when kids die en masse? what a cruel attitude.

    • Draco T Bastard 9.3

      Children are not starving to death.

      Maybe, maybe not but they are starving and that shouldn’t happen at all. Any poverty is proof that our economic system is failing.

      But stop exaggerating, and more people might take it seriously.

      That’s just it, we’re not exaggerating. We really do have people dying due to poverty. Some of those will be older people who die because they didn’t have the heater on, some will be dying of respiratory illness caused by cold and damp houses and other issues that are a direct result of poverty.

      These things are happening in NZ today and yet you try to tell us that they’re not. You’re the one who needs perspective.

  10. ropata 10

    Smashing a few of the tiresome poverty myths we see spouted by the “do nothing” advocates: http://www.critic.co.nz/culture/article/4187/profile-new-zealand-child-poverty-101

    The simple answer is this: we can’t afford not to care. The effects of child poverty cost New Zealand around $6–8 billion a year, a cost we all bear. With good reason, it’s an election hot-topic — recent polls indicate that voters see child poverty as about the third most important political issue of 2014. If you’re planning to vote, you can’t ignore child poverty.

    Regardless of where you stand on the whole debate, the figures just don’t add up. It’s hard to argue that people could make better choices with money they don’t have. Families have to balance rent, power and food; transport, clothing and medical expenses … Where would you make the cut? Child poverty is directly attributable to income inequality and poor wages

    Children are silent victims in all of this. Children can’t debate, or vote to change their situation. And their situation is pretty dire: 83,000 children in this country go to school hungry each day.

    New Zealand currently has the one of the highest rates in the OECD of “Third World” diseases. Children in poverty suffer from recurrent chest infections, bronchiectasis, pneumonia and rheumatic fever — direct results of poor housing and overcrowding. We may not have many people living on the streets, but we do have families of 14 crowding into damp three-bedroom houses. Again, it’s the children who suffer the most: a child sharing a room with adults is far more likely to pick up infections and diseases. Our lower class carries the burden of poor mental health, high infant mortality and high hospital admissions. Since 2007, hospital admissions for poverty-related diseases have risen by 21 per cent.

  11. Mike the Savage One 11

    I have been overseas and I lived in Europe, also in Germany. What I can tell readers here is that as a tenant, despite of some increasing problems in that area also over there, you are generally treated a whole of a lot better than in NZ.

    Here in Auckland I have had 8 to 10 degrees minimum in my flat, unthought of in Europe, the supposed basked case on economic terms, if we believe the government.

    I met and lived with people who had a warm home, while outside you had snow and ice. Here in NZ you freeze even in many homes in supposedly “subtropical” Auckland. We have wet, damp and damned cold homes all over, about nearly half of NZ homes are according to developed countries’ health and building standards and statistics not fit to live in, at least in winter.

    In that and other countries they pay you welfare not just at base rates and top ups, they include basics and rent and heating, not like here, where you have to starve to afford heating your home.

    So how great is this for the “rock-star economy”, I ask?

    Add child poverty, of course comparable, as we know, but that is OECD measurement, and NZ is a country of two societies, those that cope and do ok, or even reap great profits, and those at the bottom end, freezing again, in their homes during winter now.

    As for that grandiose talk about insulating homes, it largely was only done in Housing NZ homes, and I know first hand, it is a bit of a con job too. All they did is put a few insulation pads over the roof and under the floorboards, it may improve temperatures by a few degrees, but I know many still freezing.

    And the other day I listened to the news, and one leading lawyer commented that the NZ government learnt nothing from the leaky home crisis, as now rushed building of supposedly affordable homes led to many short cuts being made.

    This country needs a revolution to sort things out nothing short of a revolution, sadly most are lulled into indifference and self interest instinct behaviour by a highly manipulative media and commercial advertising sector.

  12. Mike the Savage One 12

    What makes me really sick is another property lobby spokesperson pipe up on the news tonight, saying, he challenged all renters whether they wanted higher standards and pay more in rent for it, or not so.

    With this kind of shit going on, who needs more enemies, worse than Key and his corrupt government?

    http://www.3news.co.nz/business/property-investors-threaten-rent-increases-2010031119#axzz3cGxZFfSQ

    Extortion is the game, extortion and anti social behaviour by vested interest stake holders, shame on them.

    • Lanthanide 12.1

      That story is from 2010?

      • Mike the Savage One 12.1.1

        That story keeps repeating itself, same as the legend that the poor can only be blamed for their own fate, full stop, no further questions asked. We know where i t comes from, so no surprises.

        The ones that hold the levers of power love to blame the failures on those that have no chance of getting a hand onto any lever of power. Social Darwinism of the worst kind, I fear.

      • Mike the Savage One 12.1.2

        Sorry yes a mix up, but watch The Nation tomorrow and it was there, or on one of the main news channels where a property investment spokesperson spooked the same yet again . Sorry I cannot link it right here, but it is factual, they repeat the same mantra again and again.

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