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Written By: - Date published: 9:27 am, December 11th, 2012 - 53 comments
Categories: poverty - Tags:

From stuff:

A $2 billion Government overhaul, including more state homes and universal child support, is needed to fight child poverty, a report from the children’s commissioner says.

Russell Wills’ final report into child poverty has thrown the ball back to the Government, recommending 78 changes, including enshrining child welfare in law.

However, the Government has already poured cold water on the report

The proposed changes to help our 270,000 children in poverty include:

Quick, cheap and relatively easy:

A “warrant of fitness” for all rental homes, ensuring they meet minimum standards for health and safety.

Government to work with finance sector to provide zero-interest or cheap loans for struggling families.

An expanded food-in-schools programme for low-decile primary and immediate schools.

Increased focus on keeping young parents in education.

Create community hubs as a one-stop shop for support services.

Longer, harder and more expensive:

Review all child benefits and refocus them on child welfare.

Create a new universal child payment for all children under 5.

Support for older children would be targeted, based on income.

Increase the number of social houses by at least 2000 a year for the next eight years.

Extend free doctor visits over time to cover all children under 18.

It’s all do-able, and $2 billion isn’t much more than the Government spent on South Canterbury Finance without a second thought.  It pales next to the Government’s motorways program.  And indeed one can view it as not a cost but an investment: that poverty costs us $6-8 billion/year.

But despite repeated recommendations by experts National still think such ideas as a universal child payment is silly and unaffordable (and despite its being common and very affordable in most western countries).

Food in Schools, decent rental standards are on the opposition agenda as no-brainers – but they are off National’s agenda despite being the ‘easy’ options.  Instead they cut Adult Education (with its incredible return on investment) which would help young parents.

And don’t get me started on their wrong direction for state/social housing…

Child Poverty is an indictment on our status as a first world nation.  The Government should step up.

53 comments on “This”

  1. One Tāne Viper 1

    Step up? To a guillotine perhaps.

  2. fisiani 2

    A universal child support package means giving welfare to millionaires. Anyone care to explain why that is an essential part of the deal? It simply shows shonky thinking.

    • One Tāne Viper 2.1

      Millionaires don’t have a problem receiving welfare in the form of tax avoidance, police and fire services, roads, an educated workforce, the rule of law etc. etc.

      What’s so different about this proposal? Isn’t it divisive enough for you?

      • Shane Gallagher 2.1.1

        The pension is universal and NZ has one of the lowest rates of elderly poverty in the world.

    • Bunji 2.2

      Universal payments are much more effective than targeted ones.

      Targeted ones generally have to be applied for. And the very poor are too busy or uneducated to know what they are allowed to apply for. The middle-classes hoover up the benefits (see where the housing insulation money has gone – very very little done by private landlords for the poor, the middle class now have warm, dry homes).

      As ever the wealthy who don’t need any help when children are small are a very small part of society. The savings made through not paying them these benefits are miniscule. If those same wealthy pay 0.0something% more tax they’ll cover their own benefits, and the system’s more efficient. Easy, right?

      Also stops the wealthy going: “I pay all these taxes, but get nothing back, what’s in it for me?” if they’re included in all benefits. As they do indeed pay those taxes it seems rude to discriminate against them…

      There’s a new idea of targeted universal payments that Labour are looking at that makes a lot of sense – everybody gets something, but those who need it most get more – that may be able to get the best of both worlds.

    • geoff 2.3

      I find it so bizarre that we have a person called ‘the prime minister’, and this person, more than anyone else in the country, has the ability to help others. The position should really be retitled, ‘job for the least selfish person we could find’. And yet here we find ourselves, with this man, John Key, who time and time again has shown us that he really only cares about himself.

      It’s ridiculous. It’s sort of like appointing Charles Manson to run a daycare centre.

      • bad12 2.3.1

        Unfortunately the attitude to the impoverishment of the children of the poor exhibited by Slippery, the Prime Minister and various members of His Cabinet is also alive and un-well in quite a large tranche of the voting public…

    • jamie prentice 2.4

      No its for Richmond fafaigis

  3. Populuxe1 3

    I think the picture is a bit shameless – impoverished little Maori children in raggedy clothes. Racist stereotypes much? Assumptions about their actual standard of living at home? Guardian’s permission to use image? Jus’ sayin’

    • SHG (not Colonial Viper) 3.1

      A quick Google Image search shows that the image depicts a pair of poor children in the Philippines, a pair of poor children in Bangladesh, a pair of poor children in “overseas”, and/or a pair of poor children in Peru.

      • infused 3.1.1

        So why link it to NZ?

        • Tom Gould 3.1.1.1

          I just assumed it was taken in that street in South Auckland that Key visited in the 2008 campaign for his ‘we care about poor kids’ photo op. Anyone remember which street that was?

        • Ben Clark 3.1.1.2

          Image changed. Previous image was fom The Standard archives under child poverty, and wanted to quickly get something up. Now have something showing child poverty in New Zealand. The image is hardly the point.

          And indeed the image is not the point. This is blatantly a derail when the issue here is the children sick and dying in Aotearoa who needn’t be.

          Any further comments along this line will be moved to OpenMike.

          • Populuxe1 3.1.1.2.1

            Derail? Get over yourself. The image is obviously a very important part of attracting people to reading the article, hence “illustration”. The tendency to illustrate articles on child poverty with brown children in rags is a racist cliche – especially given all the bitching and moaning that goes on here when the MSM does the same sort of thing. And as you’re talking about child poverty in New Zealand, it might be nice if the illustration bore an actual resemblance to child poverty in New Zealand rather than a third world country.

      • alwyn 3.1.2

        Thank you SHG.
        They certainly didn’t look as if they were taken in New Zealand. I can see I will have to find out how Google image works.

  4. AwakeWhileSleeping 4

    I object to the loans. Work and Income already provide this, but not to the extent to which it is needed. Also they make it difficult to apply thought staff attitudes and policies of shaming clients (that includes through the media).

    I already disagree with clients having to pay back what are living costs, such as the cost of washing machines, dryers etc – to my mind the point of welfare is to provide subsistence living which I object to people having to pay back in ANY way other than taxes. Special Needs Grants should be just that, a grant NOT A LOAN!!

    As for WOF for rental properties, this should be in place for everyone regardless of age. If children can be pivotal in bringing this in then that’s great.

    The provision of food in schools should not be limited to decile. This will mean families struggling with those who are wealthy living nearby are disadvantaged, while other families living in state housing for example will be over supported.

    Increasing social housing by 2000 a year isn’t enough. We are gaining far more people than we have housing to cope with so we need this to be at least 4000 a year.

  5. ass viper 5

    So we take more money off “workers” and give it to the “poor” who don’t look after/feed their children now?

    ….and this is going to help????

    • One Tāne Viper 5.1

      Yes, it is.

      • Sweetd 5.1.1

        How about some older fashion ideas. Keep it in you pants, no sex before marriage, maintain a strong family unit (ie don’t piss off and leave the other partner with the kids), only have as many kids as you can afford yourself.

        While not perfect, these seem a better wat to live than the endless cycle of just asking for more and more money to fix the problems that parents should do themselves.

        FFS, a parent can put two slices of bread in a toaster, and spread some jam on it for breakfast at the very least!?!?!? A lot cheaper than giving them a couple of bucks for a coke and pie!!!!

        • vto viped 5.1.1.1

          For f#&@s sake I been looking at this all day and I can’t take it no more…

          “FFS, a parent can put two slices of bread in a toaster, and spread some jam on it for breakfast at the very least!?!?!? A lot cheaper than giving them a couple of bucks for a coke and pie!!!!”

          FFS, most societies poorer than ours can manage to look after their inhabitants to a healthy and fulfilling level, so wny not ours for petes sake?!?!?! A lot more useless than we used to be in the old days!!!

          FFS, a banker can put two digits into the money printing machine and spread some jam for his colleagues for a champagne lunch at the very least!?!?!? A lot easier than having to produce something people use!!!!!

          FFS, a dumb arse moron can stick his head in a toaster, and come up with a better right wing bigotted point than that at the very least !?!? That’s a lot more inane than a coke and a pie!!!

          • Sweetd 5.1.1.1.1

            And yet you come up with no point yourself, you got some ideas or shall we just throw more money at it while blaming the rich?

            • felixviper 5.1.1.1.1.1

              If the problem is that some have too little because others have far more, then “throw more money at it while blaming the rich” is a perfectly sensible response.

        • felixviper 5.1.1.2

          Aw Sweetd, you think people didn’t have sex until they were married.

          So cute.

      • OneTrackViper 5.1.2

        It will just give no-hoper parents (sic) more money to spend at the pub and the casino. I guess that helps somebody?

        There is more than enough welfare available in NZ so that children don’t need to go hungry. A sandwich or two won’t break anybodies bank. Or is this really just the latest excuse for wealth redistribution, where any excuse is a good excuse? What will be the reason next week?

        • One Tāne Viper 5.1.2.1

          Next weeks excuse reasons will be to redress the massive wealth transfer that has occurred in the last thirty years, thereby boosting the economy and reversing the destructive GINI trend.

          “More than enough welfare available” – you just make this shit up as you go along, don’t you. It makes you look callous, a modern Marie Antoinette. Thank Fuck you for helping me understand the sentiments of the guillotine.

          PS: It’s time for your reality check.

    • muzza 5.2

      Perhaps ask why the billions a year in servicing debt on what is an unaudited debt figure, should not be spent on preventing these disgraceful situation in NZ.

      Then there is the billions being gauged in profits, all food out the mouths of the poorest, while the companies doing the gauging seek being propped up by the tax-payer, and actively avoid tax obligations, along with the wealthy who own/operate these same companies at an individual level.

      Of course there is the lies about schools/hospitals/poverty etc being played off against eachother in a *you can’t have it all because we can’t afford if* , repetative line of deceit.

      We can have it all, we just need control of our monetary supply in order to do so

  6. tc 6

    Come now Ben, keeping people poor, malnourished and ill informed are but a few of the essential tools required by the Hollowmen.

    Next you’ll be expecting due process, democracy, honesty and transparency from the NACT. This is the 21st century equivalent of a dickensian regime with some much better PR and spin deflecting matters.

    Then there’s the high farce being perpetrated by the Mallarfia within your own party to add to the distractions. Is it any wonder blowtorch can’t be put to their bellies over such issues.

  7. geoff 7

    My 2c with this universal benefit stuff is that the $ should be removed from the equation.

    Replace it with physics.

    Take electricity for example. Every person should be entitled to so many kWh of electricity per year.
    NZ’s average residential electricity consumption has been incredibly consistent over the years (Pretty graph 1). The graph shows that, for the last 30 years, on average, every household has used around 7500kWh of electricity each year. Unfortunately the cost of that 7500kWh has risen by 4.7 percent a year over and above the rate of inflation! (Pretty graph 2).

    If everyone was entitled to a standard amount of electricity per yer then we wouldn’t be subjected to these harmful price increases.
    For those who want more electricity than the entitlement provides, that’s fine, they can pay the market rate for it. But the universal entitlement should be in a physical unit like kWh which cannot be manipulated.
    You could administrate it as rebate on your power bill, deducting say 2500kWh per person per household per year.

    This is the kind of policy I’d like to see a political party pushing for but unfortunately even the greens seem caught up in the $ system.

    • Wayne 7.1

      “Free” Electricity – who pays for the generation, would it be taxpayers? Thank goodness not even the Greens endorse this proposal (I hope).

      • fender Viper 7.1.1

        Seems a far more constructive idea than your own. But of course the power generation would need to be 100% state owned to prevent the ticket clipping money skimmers from blowing the cost into the stratosphere.

        • karol 7.1.1.1

          Yes, fender.  Electricity should never have been privatised.  It is a necessary party of society’s infrastructure.  And no-one should have to choose between paying the electricity bill, or buying enough food to survive on.

      • geoff 7.1.2

        Hi Wayne. The taxpayers would pay for it and the users (residential and non-residential) who use over and above the entitlement would pay for it.

      • Macro_adder 7.1.3

        Wayne – FYI every person, including those who pay heaps to accountants so that they can avoid paying, are taxpayers (their tax is the cost of the accountant). If every household is given a standard allocation of electricity per year – then this is an example of the benevolent dictator – which surprisingly is an axiomatic assumption of neo-liberal economic theory redistributing wealth. In practice this never occurs – but hey it’s your economic “theory”.

  8. Its not child poverty its poverty .Its not that this governed has no answer It just does not want an answer that would mean more tax for its rich friends. The answer is a fair wage for workers instead of the unlivable minimum and youth rate wage.
    Have dinner in schools and affordable rents for warm decent houses.A return to more State Houses and a State Advanced loan scheme for working people who wish to buy .
    Where is the money coming from ? will be the bleat from the Right well the answer is a fairer tax system and a crack down on tax dodgers including P.Dunne’s legal tax avoidance.
    The reason I dislike the term “child poverty ” is because the Tory Rednecks use that as an excuse to blame the parents.

    • indiana 8.1

      Perhaps a definition for poverty in NZ is a better start. We have so many welfare programs in NZ, there should be no excuse for people claiming poverty. Most people that have traveled the world especially Asia and Africa will have seen real poverty, where governments don’t help you, have no agencies to help you and have no mechanisms to help you.

      • One Tāne Viper 8.1.1

        The real issue is inequality, not absolute poverty. The more unequal a society, the worse the outcomes. It should be noted that although these negative consequences are borne primarily by the weakest members of society (particularly children) they are felt across all social strata.

        The definition you seek is measured by the GINI coefficient, which is already available.

        Be careful that your demand for more definition isn’t interpreted as a stalling tactic, because that would make you look like a revolting low life, or “Tory” as they are sometimes called.

        • jamie prentice 8.1.1.1

          +1 the right want us to be  like Asia, I thought we were above that, then we could have people who have no hope becoming fanatics, oh sorry they can’t see past their nose or are they holding onto something else. The sign of the civilised is looking after your weakest, be team player not arse h…

      • KJT 8.1.2

        So. Are you saying we should be like them?

      • Dr Terry 8.1.3

        indiana. So this makes perfectly alright the situation in this first world country? As ever, comparisons are odious.

        • indiana 8.1.3.1

          My point is, that how in a country that is considered first world and has had successive governments that have maintained mechanisms and programs targeted at ensuring that citizens do not fall into the trap of poverty, we are now raising the issue of child poverty or even adult poverty? Why hasn’t generations of social welfare prevented this and why are we seeking to pour more money into welfare?

          OTV – inequality is certainly the issue, I would argue that people consciously or unconsciously choose whether they want to be equals or unequals.

          These are poems circulating throughout the nation
          everybody’s bad and everybody’s tough
          but how many people are intelligent enough
          to open up their eyes and see through the lies
          discipline themselves, yourself to stay alive?
          not many
          That’s why the universe sent me today on this stage
          with this to to say
          the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer
          and in the final hour many heads will lose power
          what does the rich versus the poor really mean?
          psychologically it means you got to pick your team
          when someone says the rich gets richer
          visualize wealth and put yourselves in the picture
          the rich get richer, cause they work towards rich
          the poor get poorer, cause their minds can’t switch from the ghetto
          let go, it’s not a novelty
          you could love your neighborhood without loving poverty
          follow me, every mother, father, son, daughter
          there’s no reason to fear the New World Order
          we must order the whole new world to pay us
          the New World Order and the old state chaos
          the Big Brother watching over you, is a lie you see
          Hip-Hop could build it’s own secret society
          but first you and I got to unify
          stop the negativity and control our creativity
          the rich is getting richer, so why we ain’t richer?
          could it be we still thinking like niggas?
          educate yourselves, make your world view bigger
          visualize wealth and put yourselves in the picture!

          Artist: KRS-One lyrics
          Title: 2nd Quarter – Free Throws

          • One Tāne Viper 8.1.3.1.1

            “Consciously or unconsciously choose“? – what witlessness is this? (since we’re quoting lyrics – “The trauma to the infant, be mostly not negatable!”)

            Have you any grounds for this assertion, or are you just too lazy to go beyond the worthlessness of individual “opinion” (yes, I include my “opinion”)?

            Are you talking about the “choice” to be born into a low-income household, for example? Perhaps you mean the “choice” to be afflicted by glue ear. Or the “choice” to be unlucky in some other way.

            • indiana 8.1.3.1.1.1

              I’m not asserting anything.

              • One Tāne Viper

                OK, you got me. You argued that “people consciously or unconsciously choose whether they want to be equals or unequals.”

                Your argument is a groundless right wing smear.

  9. vto viped 9

    So in days and centuries past most societies could provide for their members so they lived healthy fruitful lives.

    Yet today, at a point in time when the world is at its most wealthy, there is not enough to go around. Apparently.

    How has this happenned? Where is all that wealth?

    maybe someone bemoaning lazy bludgers and taxing ‘workers’ would like to explain this ……………

    • Johan 9.1

      vtp viped… I don’t agree with your first statement. The reason why we have had revolutions is basically to address the inequality in the world. The majority of people did suffer with hunger and injustice other wise they had no cause to rebel eg french and russian revolution, as well as the communist take over in China.
      At this time we seem be at a similar stage as the elite (billionaires) are able to keep the majority of people fairly content with crumbs while massive provide are made to line their pockets. In fact the rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer.
      Society as a whole is becoming less equal.
      Let me play the devil’s advocate role, and say what the Nats’ message would be,
      “why don’t these poor people take personal responsibility for the plight that they are in?”

      • One Tāne Viper 9.1.1

        “I love you. Say it with guillotines.”

      • vto viped 9.1.2

        Yep plenty times past were cast with the same broken mast. But most of the time the entire community could provide quite easily for itself.

        And today there is more wealth than ever, so why are we unable to provide for everyone?

  10. xtasy 10

    What about Housing NZ for a damned start, to consult all their tenants, and to see, whether those able to, or those having friends or relatives able to, to be allowed to IMPROVE their homes themselves, for a fair, reasonable “reward” in money terms, paying them for the work that may be needed?

    It is something that I learned in continental Europe, where you will find very many amazing and well kept homes and flats all over the place, as the systems there allow, or even expect, the tenants to take initiative to paint, decorate and maintain their dwellings.

    This is something NOT happening in NZ, where many private landlords just frown on tenants, want much rent for no efforts, rent out shit-holes and even complain of tenants make improvements. And Housing NZ does not even provide for any tenants doing much themselves anyway.

    Now, how much money could be “saved” by giving willing tenants some paint, wall paper, tools, other resources, or at least the money for that, if they would be prepared to fix up things? this could be a win win scheme, and I cannot believe no government in this country ever thought of this. Of course such efforts will need to be rewarded, but would it not be much cheaper than bringing in many outside contractors, who all will have primarily profit interests they follow?

    NZ and NZers need to wake up for innovative thoughts and a real chance for all to improve things. Give Housing NZ tenants an incentive, if it is within their means, to improve their homes, give them a bit for that, and this may work wonders.

    That could really do something about POVERTY. Labour’s plan to just promote housing for the middle class who have jobs and some cash, that will not address the real hard poverty, I feel. So think about pro-creative solutions for those already there in state housing, also allow unemployed (after being trained and supervised) to perhaps BUILD THEIR OWN HOMES AND FUTURE?!

  11. bad12 11

    The point i am continually making,(along with the Greens Dr Russell Norman), is that we are still talking the economics of State owned rental housing through the lens of what is essentially a failed economic paradigm,

    We,as a nation, DO NOT need to borrow any amounts of billions of dollars to provide housing owned by the State to be used for rental purposes,

    Such borrowing is in fact the economics of some form of primitive Neanderthal,(also known as international banking),

    Government simply need create a mechanism where the Reserve Bank prints 2 billion dollars and loans that to HousingNZ on the basis that at some future date that ‘loan’ will be written off, the write off would for the purposes of the Governments accounts feature as a loss BUT the State owned rental houses built with the monies would feature in those same Government accounts as an asset of the same value as that loss thereby negating the negative in terms of the Governments accounts,

    There is only ONE codicil to such spending of printed money into the economy and that is that the economic activity of building the houses is accomplished in such a manner so as give full regards to the Reserve Banks inflationary targets,

    It is the economics of the stupidly backward that insist that an increase in production must occur befor an expansion in the supply of money and as far as the balance of the price internationally of the New Zealand dollar vis a vis exporters and importers i would expect for every billion dollars of printed money spent into the New Zealand economy the price of that dollar would ease by 1.5 cents, creating from a social initiative a plus in easing the international price of the New Zealand dollar,

    Obviously, such a build would ‘create’ employment in all areas of the economy and such a build, if sensibly targeting as tenants those who would pay 25% of income to the State those working at or just above the minimum wage would firstly take the upward pressure off of the private market in rents and given an ongoing building program in time relieve the upward spiral in the price of a purchased house as rental investment became a less favorable private investment,

    The further PLUS to the Government accounts would come from those who have employment at low wages would be that although paying the same 25% of income as tenants who are benefit dependent the payment by working tenants would by dint of a higher income be higher in dollar terms which would simply mean that the direct subsidy from Government to HousingNZ would lessen as the ‘working poor’ are given access to such tenancies,

    In terms of global economics what we have now in the number of jobless being far in advance of the number of jobs being able to be created does not markedly improve in out-look simply because Asia does it cheaper than we do, and, for every 100,000 dollars gained from from free trade deals we have or intend to sign up to the downside is another job lost to the New Zealand economy,

    Dreams of higher wages for those who daily toil at or just above the minimum wage are therefor just that,dreams, it is time NOW for a future Government to step up with the creative mechanisms to LOWER the cost of living for those who toil daily for the least….

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