What support are the Nats giving beneficiaries?

Written By: - Date published: 11:05 am, March 26th, 2010 - 84 comments
Categories: benefits - Tags:

Paula Bennett is saying that her benefit bashing policies are about “supporting people into work”.

What is that support?

I see punishment. I see threats. Where’s the support?

Cutting DPB mums’ benefits if they don’t get work. That’s not supporting them. Making unemployed people reapply for their benefit after a year. That’s not supporting them.

What would be supporting people into work?

How about a training allowance? Like the one cut by Bennett. How about investing in job creation? So there are actually jobs to go into.

The kind of questions some enterprising journo could be asking? You know, challenging the minister to show proof of her claims. You know, accountability and all that.

84 comments on “What support are the Nats giving beneficiaries?”

  1. The English language certainly has been bastardised by this lot. “Green mining”, “support” by a “kick in the pants”

    How very 1984ish.

  2. Tigger 2

    The market is meant to provide jobs…isn’t that what they believe?

  3. tc 3

    love the pic of clowns at a sideshow…how very very very apt. Mouth open nothing else going on.

  4. dave 4

    While you are correct, it would be good to have seen “proof of claims” that Labour did the same (supporting people into work). WINZ acts no differently under National than it did under Labour.

    • Bright Red 4.1

      How about the decrease in the number of people on the dole from 158,000 when the entered office to 17,000?

      “WINZ acts no differently under National than it did under Labour”

      well, they don’t offer the training allowance for dpb mums anymore. And it’s not really about using winz, it’s about other job creation policies.

      Creating jobs is the important thing where National is failing, not connecting people to them once they’re created.

  5. gobsmacked 5

    Some facts about Paula Bennett:

    She is now an MP (taxpayer-funded).

    Before that, she worked in Murray McCully’s office (taxpayer-funded).

    Before that, she was a student (taxpayer-funded).

    Before that, she had a training allowance (taxpayer-funded).

    Before that, she inherited some money.

    So, when, exactly, did Paula Bennett pull herself up by her bootstraps? And when will a journalist get around to asking her?

    • prism 5.1

      Interesting facts gobsmacked

    • Jum 5.2

      So she’s never been out in the nasty wee world like the people she is treating like shxt then?

      Once the sunshine that’s been coming from the same area on John Key stops blinding journalists to the truth, then they may ask her.

      • uke 5.2.1

        Don’t hold your breath on those craven journos – there’s always plenty of “smokescreen news” for their editors send them running after.

  6. torydog 6

    Bennetts like all tories……they take full advantage of the system….then we they have had their fill they try and scrap it!!!…so generous and so king.

    That old saying……..”you can never trust a tory” is spot on!

  7. Darel 7

    The DPB is not a lifestyle choice and there is no cycle of dependency to break.

    The number of people on the DPB doesn’t vary greatly and it is trending down as a proportion of the population.

    Two thirds use the benefit for 5 years or less, ie not for the life of the child.

    10% are on the benefit 10 years or more. That doesn’t prove much except it reiterates that most don’t stay on it for long.

  8. Jum 8

    Unfortunately, belonging to the NAct gene pool means that Paula Bennett has no empathy gene. She cannot understand the simple rule of helping people out of poverty; it’s one step at a time, with support, as Labour had been doing but nobody in Labour was out there enough to blow that trumpet.

    Note to Bennett: you’re just the same as Richardson or Douglas, and believe me; that’s not a compliment. Your party rates you highly; I suggest you have a good look at why.

  9. rainman 9

    WINZ is not about helping people to find work, in my experience. I was made redundant last year and have struggled to find roles in my field (and don’t even get responses to applications when I take a more “speculative” approach and punt for things that I don’t have solid experience in). Where there are roles that I have good experience for there is a lot of competition as my circumstances are hardly unique. I’ve had a few interviews, but no offers, in short.

    My partner is a teacher (fixed contract until end of last year – as she has been since she started teaching; perm teaching jobs are scarce) so while she was employed I was ineligible for any UB financial assistance. Fair enough – there are plenty worse off than us, and however much it’s tough to live on a teacher’s wage, we’re getting by. I went to WINZ last year to talk about retraining or any other options for getting into work other than what I’ve been doing, but they had little interest and no options. The dialogue pretty much went “hang on, I’m sure we can find some financial support for you”, “no, it’s OK, I don’t want the money, just some help to find work or retrain”, “Oh. can’t help then. Are you watching the job board?”

    We’re at least getting some money in – but the long term prospects aren’t great, and will probably end up with us being more state-dependent rather than less. The Nats aren’t known for long-term thinking, though.

  10. Lindsay 10

    Darel,

    “Two thirds use the benefit for 5 years or less, ie not for the life of the child.

    10% are on the benefit 10 years or more. That doesn’t prove much except it reiterates that most don’t stay on it for long.”

    What your statistics fail to account for is that many people have multiple spells on the DPB. Your statistics only apply to each continuous spell. At end June 2007 43,866 had been on the DPB at least once before. For example someone who has been on the DPB for less than a year in their current spell may well have been on it for much longer cumulatively.

    “The number of people on the DPB doesn’t vary greatly and it is trending down as a proportion of the population.”

    It hasn’t varied greatly in the last 20 years. But in the 17 before that it grew from 8,000 to 98,000.

    And I am not sure what great improvement it delivered. Fewer violent relationships? More secure and productive adults? Less juvenile crime (one of the reasons the DPB was introduced was to allow mothers of wayward kids to stay at home)? Greater freedom and choice for mothers?

    • Bright Red 10.1

      “It hasn’t varied greatly in the last 20 years. But in the 17 before that it grew from 8,000 to 98,000.”

      It’s trending down as a portion of the pop you fucken dimwit.

    • Jum 10.2

      Lindsay,
      I assume you want to retain the DPB safeguard for women but are seeking reasons for continued violence and numbers supposedly increasing.
      You quoted some great statistics, but you forget you are dealing with the vagaries of people. Bit like economists do.

      Before we consider the end result that another blogger Lindsay Mitchell, as appearing on Paul Henry’s Breakfast/National/Act show, would want i.e. no safeguard for women with children, which she believes would force them to stay in relationships no matter how unsafe they may be, we shall concentrate on the finer points of ‘reality’ for women.
      Women and men are emotional creatures. Society’s view of men and of women is vastly different. You will find that that simple premise plays a huge part in what occurs in relationships. Also, the judgment of that society (religious groups, other women) foisted on women, and it is always women, especially those who have failed to keep their man or been raped or seduced or battered, is one of censure.
      Looking carefully at the dynamics of the solo mother with children, censured by society, judged by WINZ, ‘cubicled’ by this government and disrespected by many men encountering them results in the inevitable loss of confidence, loss of a living wage (for looking after children), and more scarily for the children she gets the message that without a man she is not an equal human being. We already have issues with those who appear to have a certificate of humanhood and those who don’t in the current welfare legislation. We already ‘think’ women are not equal, because we do not pay them equally. We don’t even pay them to look after children. We give them an income that looks after the child.
      If this society does not value the women (and some men) who raise these children alone, you will get the bad side the violence, the benefit cheating e.g. live in boyfriend collects her benefit, does not support her and she ends up in court for cheating on the benefit, yet that was her and her child’s only income/wage actual case, Lindsay. She did not believe in her own importance in her child’s life. Get that right and your problem will solve itself, providing that the importance is accompanied by the responsibility. There we might have some agreement on ensuring a watching brief.

      I also think more men should be looking after babies as solo dads. Certainly, the child may be raised in quite a different way and society will view that occupation as being more important, given the way they view what men do and what women do as more or less worthy. Remember the pay equity gap when you are considering this Lindsay.

      Unfortunately, the Paula Bennetts and the Lindsay Mitchells of the world only think in black and white, unless it affects them.

      PS I’ve just realised what you might have been suggesting and that is to charge the fathers of the babies to pay all the living costs, not just some. But then that means they would want to control the mother of that child. Is that what you meant, Lindsay, to keep women under control? As a woman do you really suggest that? What if the guy is hurting the mother or the child, Lindsay? Do you think the woman should have him sent to gaol, but then that will cost the country a lot more, especially if no rehabilitation takes place under private prison management, and she’d still be alone. It’s all a bit of a worry. Surely, if government treated women equally, it would eventually trickle down to those men treating women equally and then I really think the DPB numbers would drop and so would the violence. Sadly, when people like Brian Tamaki are telling men they have divine right to control women in whatever way they need, well, it’s just gonna take longer isn’t it.

    • QoT 10.3

      And I am not sure what great improvement it delivered.

      Well, you know, some women probably managed to feed and clothe their children.

  11. Anne 11

    well said Bright Red.

  12. mcflock 12

    ‘ere, BR, you can’t treat an “artist and welfare commentator” like that!

    You’re implying that web-searching statisticsNZ and the Cato Institute is no substitute for knowing what you’re talking about.

    That’s unfair discrimination (not Bennett’s “fair” discrimination) against economic sociopaths.

  13. Darel 13

    @Lindsay I do appreciate that people move on and off the DPB. I think that’s more likely to mean people are using the benefit well rather than not, eg working for a while and then not. But its not very strong evidence for anything really. The main point I want to make is to dispel the myth of women going on the benefit for a lifestyle it isn’t if the vast majority work for some or a lot of the time their child or children makes them eligible for the benefit.

    I only have stats since 1996. I accept on face value your recitation of the stats (I’m just using MSD ones myself) that it grew. But why it grew is because the state wouldn’t force men to pay for their children. The DPB was the response. It had nothing to do with allowing mothers with wayward children to stay at home according to the report I read (which is at home so can’t cite it, I think it was a parliamentary report, certainly official).

    The improvement is that children are supported. Better would be fewer benefits because men (and now some women) financially support their children. Better yet would be all the support a child needs.

  14. Lindsay 14

    It never escapes me that none of you address the points I make.

    Yes the DPB was trending down very slowly during the economic boom. The trend has reversed. It may be a short-term reversal due to the recession. It might not be. I was agreeing with Darel’s statement that “the number doesn’t vary greatly.” In the past 20 years the variance has been within a 15 percent margin.

    Did you have anything to offer about the level of dependence in terms of duration of stay or how society has benefited from the DPB?

  15. Lindsay 15

    Darel, I posted my comment before seeing your response.

  16. Lindsay 16

    Darel,

    At least a third of single parents currently on welfare started there as teenagers. As MSD records only extend to 1996 (anyone older than 29 isn’t captured) the percentage is likely to be considerably higher. Many started not on the DPB or EMA but the dole. In low socio-economic communities having babies and going on welfare is not an uncommon event. The teen birthrate in the poorest decile is ten times that in the wealthiest. Before they acquire educational qualifications or work skills a couple of thousand each year get pregnant and opt for a benefit. They continue to add children to their exisiting benefit. And they cannot command a wage that is better than their benefit income. That to me represents a lifestyle choice. This group tend to stay on welfare the longest and have children at the greatest risk of poor health, low educational achievement etc. My interest isn’t just theoretical. As a volunteer I see this happening and some of the outcomes.

    Bob Gregory, an Australian Professor of Economics, has done some unparalleled work into how long women rely on welfare for and has identified distinct groups. He estimated that the average length of dependence is 12 years.

    At the same time there are certainly many people who use the DPB temporarily and I don’t have a problem with that.

    When the DPB was introduced it was for a raft of reasons. The government may officially state some (eg to enable women to exit violent relationships) but other groups who lobbied for it had their own. The failure to secure maintenance from fathers (who were imprisoned for not supporting their families) was definitely a factor. I think some of this is covered in Margaret McClure’s work, A Civilised Community. I will see what references I can find.

    Chidren are supported but not well. The children that are the focus of groups like the CPAG are mainly those on welfare.

    Thank you for the reasonable exchange.

    • prism 16.1

      Hey Lindsay you say –
      “The teen birthrate in the poorest decile is ten times that in the wealthiest. Before they acquire educational qualifications or work skills a couple of thousand each year get pregnant and opt for a benefit. They continue to add children to their exisiting benefit. And they cannot command a wage that is better than their benefit income. That to me represents a lifestyle choice. ”

      Nice of you to volunteer in the social field but you say “At the same time there are certainly many people who use the DPB temporarily and I don’t have a problem with that.” It doesn’t sound as if you are very supportive of the women that you see as you volunteer work. Also what’s this lifestyle choice you’re talking about. Not much of a lifestyle, and a choice of struggling on the DPB and raising children or struggling at some low-waged job not enough for a family to live on and also raising children.

      I mentioned earlier in the week on Open Mike I think about the interview with the trust that is running schools where young mothers (and fathers) can go and finish their education, taking their babes with them and caring for them while they are studying. Perhaps you could trace that, and give us your experience of how that is working in your area, or if not available. It is very positive towards ‘breaking the cycle’ which I agree with you can happen as young women are stuck in domesticity and poverty.

  17. Lindsay 17

    Some groups lobbied for the introduction of the DPB because of the rapid urbanisation of Maori. Maori have always had higher overall and, in particular, teen birth rates. While rurally children were supported by extended whanau, particularly grandparents, when the young moved to the cities these sources of support dried up.

  18. mcflock 18

    Okay then:
    “And I am not sure what great improvement it delivered. Fewer violent relationships? More secure and productive adults? Less juvenile crime (one of the reasons the DPB was introduced was to allow mothers of wayward kids to stay at home)? Greater freedom and choice for mothers?”

    Let me do my own web search for things I agree with – oh, look: http://nzchildren.co.nz/injuries.php#figure1

    Rate for assault-related hospital admissions for children has more than halved in the last 18 years, assault-related mortality is also trending down over the last 18 years. It must be the DPB. All hail the DPB! [sarc tag for L’s benefit].

    I second Bright Red’s assessment.

    heh – anti-spam was “childs”. Yep, it’s all about the childs.

  19. prism 19

    Bearing and having children tends to be a woman thing. I don’t know whether you are a man or woman Lindsay but it is very hard to work and bring up children successfully. Males criticising women on the DPB is common, having children is not their thing. Some females like to sneer also at the young woman who isn’t ‘good and careful’.

    If the social system was helpful and proactive, the stats for DPBs and children would be better. Making fathers pay till the child is adult may lead to a violent relationship developing. Just because a man loses some sperm doesn’t mean he had any commitment to the result. It would be better if the young women were given lots of help particularly in their child’s early years, if they choose to not involve an unsatisfactory father.

  20. Fabregas4 20

    Living on the dole or DPB must be awful – this is true. Ask yourself would like to do it. Many people need the dole or DPB because circumstances make this so. These circumstances include people making mistakes – like teenagers having babies and need – losing jobs, lack of opportunity, being brought up in dysfunctional families, violent or abusive relationships, – lots of reasons.

    What do we do as a nation? I like us better when we say that we will support these people (all the while knowing that people are people and some will take advantage but that it is so important to support the needy that those problem people are worth putting up with) rather than when we paint everyone in need as losers and bludgers.

    There but for the grace of God (or this government) go we or our mothers or fathers, sisters, or brothers or more likely our children.

  21. Lindsay 21

    Prism, It’s a struggle in our eyes but if that is all you have known since birth, and expectations of you are low, securing your own income has a certain prestige albeit with that income can come worthless hanger-ons (ironically increasing the incidience of violence). The women I have worked with are usually the mums who do not want their daughters following in their footsteps. They are people who have asked for help. But as long as the benefit is there the chances of them doing just that are heightened.

    I support the teenage parent units and the 8 teenage parent co-ordinators employed by the health department. One I know personally and even she will tell you that money has everything to do with having a child, or having another. Susan Baragwanath used to say that was one of her most difficult challenges. Convincing her girls not to have another child. Unfortunately the numbers catered for at teen parent units are only a drop in the barrel.

    I was very nearly a teenage parent myself so it isn’t a prudish and moralisitic opposition. I simply find the idea of paying young impressionable people what seems like a relatively good income for becoming a parent, foolish.

  22. Jum 22

    Lindsay, I left a message for you further up but you may not have seen it.

    I assume you want to retain the DPB safeguard for women but are seeking reasons for continued violence and numbers supposedly increasing.
    You quoted some great statistics, but you forget you are dealing with the vagaries of people. Bit like economists do.

    Before we consider the end result that another blogger Lindsay Mitchell, as appearing on Paul Henry’s Breakfast/National/Act show, would want i.e. no safeguard for women with children, which she believes would force them to stay in relationships no matter how unsafe they may be, we shall concentrate on the finer points of ‘reality’ for women.
    Women and men are emotional creatures. Society’s view of men and of women is vastly different. You will find that that simple premise plays a huge part in what occurs in relationships. Also, the judgment of that society (religious groups, other women) foisted on women, and it is always women, especially those who have failed to keep their man or been raped or seduced or battered, is one of censure.
    Looking carefully at the dynamics of the solo mother with children, censured by society, judged by WINZ, ‘cubicled’ by this government and disrespected by many men encountering them results in the inevitable loss of confidence, loss of a living wage (for looking after children), and more scarily for the children she gets the message that without a man she is not an equal human being. We already have issues with those who appear to have a certificate of humanhood and those who don’t in the current welfare legislation. We already ‘think’ women are not equal, because we do not pay them equally. We don’t even pay them to look after children. We give them an income that looks after the child.
    If this society does not value the women (and some men) who raise these children alone, you will get the bad side the violence, the benefit cheating e.g. live in boyfriend collects her benefit, does not support her and she ends up in court for cheating on the benefit, yet that was her and her child’s only income/wage actual case, Lindsay. She did not believe in her own importance in her child’s life. Get that right and your problem will solve itself, providing that the importance is accompanied by the responsibility. There we might have some agreement on ensuring a watching brief.

    I also think more men should be looking after babies as solo dads. Certainly, the child may be raised in quite a different way and society will view that occupation as being more important, given the way they view what men do and what women do as more or less worthy. Remember the pay equity gap when you are considering this Lindsay.

    Unfortunately, the Paula Bennetts and the Lindsay Mitchells of the world only think in black and white, unless it affects them.

    PS I’ve just realised what you might have been suggesting and that is to charge the fathers of the babies to pay all the living costs, not just some. But then that means they would want to control the mother of that child. Is that what you meant, Lindsay, to keep women under control? As a woman do you really suggest that? What if the guy is hurting the mother or the child, Lindsay? Do you think the woman should have him sent to gaol, but then that will cost the country a lot more, especially if no rehabilitation takes place under private prison management, and she’d still be alone. It’s all a bit of a worry. Surely, if government treated women equally, it would eventually trickle down to those men treating women equally and then I really think the DPB numbers would drop and so would the violence. Sadly, when people like Brian Tamaki are telling men they have divine right to control women in whatever way they need, well, it’s just gonna take longer isn’t it.

    • prism 22.1

      Jum That Lindsay Mitchell woman – the name clicks. I think she has been agitating about the DPB for years. Interesting that Paul Henry would have her on. Of all the women interested in the matter of the DPB in all the universities Humanities Departments, in all the cities and towns of NZ he found her. Think she lives in Wellington actually, probably handy for him.

  23. Lindsay 23

    Jum, I want a safeguard. A safety net. But not a long-term gaurantee (bar exceptional cases).The secure income and house provided by the state attract men who want all the benefits of a relationship but none of the responsibilities. Controlling men who prey on women financially and psychologically. Do you know about the Ruka Ruling? Did you know that we now pay women to live with violence? The very ticket out of a bad relationship is now a passport for abuse to continue.

    When the DPB was introduced women generally were in a far more disadvantaged position than they are today. The opportunities and expectations of them now are based on their ability to foot it along side males in almost all respects. I can’t agree with your view of society and government as treating women as inferior or of lesser value. But there are societies within societies, granted.

    Your original comment did not appear earlier.

    • toad 23.1

      Lindsay, the Deadbeat Dads issue is one that has long concerned me.

      Men, often on substantial incomes, are able to organise their affairs to minimise their child support (and their income tax). Meanwhile, the State pays for the upbringing of their children via the DPB paid to the children’s mothers.

      I would rather see the primary focus being on making the absent fathers pay their fair share, rather than victimising, as you seem to do, the mothers who are “left with the baby” (sorry about the cliche).

    • B 23.2

      “I can’t agree with your view of society and government as treating women as inferior or of lesser value.”

      Lindsay I think this very revealing comment must be why you cannot understand the importance of having the DPB. Can you imagine a world in which men have primary responsibility for raising children? Do you really think they would be demonized and forced to struggle on a pitiful income while women abandoned them and their children without fear of being judged or held accountable by society?

  24. Di 24

    Lindsay-“Did you have anything to offer about the level of dependence in terms of duration of stay or how society has benefited from the DPB?

    Lindsay: Here are 2 examples from my own family which illustrate that the DPB has benefited society by allowing children to live with a parent.

    My grandmother left an abusive marriage and my father (aged 2) and his brother spent 9 years in a children’s home while my grandmother supported herself as a cook and visited the boys on weekends. My great uncle’s wife died suddenly leaving 3 young girls who had to be put into an orphanage because he had to work and did not earn enough to pay for a carer for the girls.
    Both of these were in pre DPB days.

    • prism 24.1

      In past years, I know of a case where a wife died leaving a number of children from very young to older. The father was unprepared for this lone responsibility, had a breakdown and the social welfare took over and split up the family. They were rigid in those days, knew best being, in their eyes, superior, moral people – probably still are sometimes. All parents, at different income levels, may need help and part of the infrastructure of a country should be to support the future generation and their parents.

      A socially responsible country would ensure that young mothers and their children were given education to assist them in life. It is a wonderful chance for young women who can’t handle school subjects to get levels of certification covering parenting, financial management etc and be clued up about their job of parenthood. Also help to work on their plans for the future.
      They could be part of a group studying together, with a bus that did a circuit picking them and their babies up in the morning and returning them home in the afternoon with time for food shopping etc. twice a week. We are so mean-minded, narrow and uninterested in parents and children in NZ that ideas like that would be regarded as coddling the young people instead of pro-actively guiding them to a positive self-managing future.

  25. Lindsay 25

    Toad,

    The significant child support problem is only a spin-off from the DPB system. If there was no long term DPB, which acts as an incentive to single parenthood, there would be nowhere near the current number of liable parents – 130,000. The state has effectively replaced many fathers who are nevertheless expected to pay the bills for children they often have no role in raising.

    As a general rule fathers should take responsibility for their children but the state has to stop skewing the morality of this by putting up cash rewards to prospective single mothers. We can’t have it both ways.

    Before the DPB it was difficult for mothers to chase maintenance through the court system and fathers ran the risk of conviction and imprisonment for reneging on a court order. But that was forty years ago. Today, avoiding becoming pregnant and giving birth is much simpler. And in respect of relationship breakdowns, women, who now make up half of the workforce, are much better equipped to handle being a breadwinner and men are much better equipped for sharing parenting.

    Di, They are very sad stories. But I am not advocating a return to no assistance at all. Before the DPB, but not as early as your exampes occur, there was the emergency benefit (from 1968 – 73 specifically called the DPB emergency benefit) which would have been granted to someone in your grandmother’s situation. There was also a Deserted Wives benefit, although that wouldn’t have helped your grandmother. But people have this misapprehension that there was no assistance whatsoever pre-DPB and that isn’t so. Again, my problem is with the long-term alternative to either working or being supported by a partner.

    • B 25.1

      “cash rewards”? really?

      gee here was me thinking the dpb paid less than the cost of living. Guess it must have been my crappy budgeting skills that left me with a $40 per week deficit after rent power phone and food when I was on the dpb.

      • QoT 25.1.1

        Well, B, if they paid you enough to actually cover the costs of survival then you wouldn’t be incentivised into work, obviously! And anyway, malnutrition builds character.

        Why, if you could afford accommodation and food and electricity then you can understand why Poor Foolish Young Girls would be lining up to live off the state’s largesse.

        [Apologies to all for semi-tipsy high drama; I really just cannot connect rationally with “lifestyle choice” “everyone knows how to get contraception and it works 100% so only filthy sluts get knocked up” rhetoric.]

  26. Darel 26

    @434pm I was thinking of Adoption and Its Alternatives (September 2000) Law Commission

    “The Destitute Persons Act 1910 and the Domestic Proceedings Act 1968 created a statutory means by which a woman could seek a maintenance order against the father of her children. The court could, at its discretion, set the rate that it thought appropriate for the father to pay the mother in respect of the child. This maintenance continued until the child reached the age of sixteen; maintenance would continue to be payable in respect of a child over the age of sixteen if the child was engaged in full-time education.

    These statutes provided a means by which women could seek maintenance from the putative father but where there were difficulties women had to resort to the court in order to enforce the maintenance agreement or order. There were further difficulties; an unmarried mother had to obtain an acknowledgement of paternity from the father or a declaration of paternity from the court in order to be entitled to seek maintenance. The Domestic Purposes Benefit (DPB), introduced in statutory form in 1973, mitigated these difficulties. The Act provided State financial support for single mothers, irrespective of whether the father was contributing to maintenance payments”.

  27. Darel 27

    @Lindsay You say that “In low socio-economic communities having babies and going on welfare is not an uncommon event’. The fact that poor people access income-related benefits is the system working, not failing.

    You assert that women add children while on the dpb as a lifestyle choice. I don’t doubt that. My point is that is marginal behaviour. Can you provide links to sources that quantify this behaviour?

    I had a look at one Bob Gregory paper that seemed likely to be a source. http://econrsss.anu.edu.au/Staff/gregory/pdf/National%20Institute%20Lecture.pdf?

    Bob is interested in people recycling into benefits. He thinks that recycling is evidence of people trying to change their welfare status. In other words, people in general don’t accept the dpb as a lifestyle and want to change it. Sure, there is a lot of failure and that is a good place to focus public policy responses because if he’s right, and people do want to stay off the benefit, then increasing the lengths of the periods off the benefit is a good thing for all concerned.

    Bob is less convinced about the efficacy of education in general: “general increases in education have been relatively unimportant in increasing the number of full-time jobs or reducing the growth of welfare dependency’.

    There may be some technical differences between the Australian and NZ systems which might produce different rates but the general outcomes are probably similar and appear intuitive. It was worth reading.

    From 1996 2006 the proportion of the working age population receiving the dpb declined steadily from 5% to 4%. The importance of that time frame is that it includes the 1998 recession. The last two years have seen an increase from about 3.75% to just over 4%. I would think this a reaction to losing jobs rather than a lifestyle choice.

    You say “DPB . . acts as an incentive to single parenthood’. Intuitively, yes, by definition making payments based on any status is an incentive. The big question is what proportion of people on the dpb because they chose the dpb as their source of income in life. Can you point to any research that answers this question?

    How many big do you think effect will be of introducing a work test when the youngest child turns six on encouraging people on the dpb to make sure their youngest child is never older than six?

    You said “the state has to stop skewing the morality of this by putting up cash rewards to prospective single mothers’. Again, I can easily accept some people take up the “cash reward’ but how many is the question. Don’t you think using the term “cash reward’ is pejorative?

    What do you think has been the result of the dpb? Your initial statement was “I am not sure what great improvement it delivered. Fewer violent relationships? More secure and productive adults? Less juvenile crime (one of the reasons the DPB was introduced was to allow mothers of wayward kids to stay at home)? Greater freedom and choice for mothers?’. Do you have any sources that talk about what has happened?

    That Law Com report is here: http://www.lawcom.govt.nz/UploadFiles/Publications/Publication_72_144_R65.pdf

    • B 27.1

      Great post but again “cash reward” and “incentive” the dpb is not, as anyone who has been on it will tell you. The vast majority of women, whether they are teenagers, married women thinking of leaving their husbands, or even women living with a violent partner, were financially better off before going on the dpb. Especially in the case of teenagers as they do not have children yet so only need to support themselves. Even with a minimum wage job (or just staying at home w mum & dad) they are far better off than recieving the dpb and having to support a child. I’m wondering if the point Lindsay (and Bennett) is trying to make is that women on the dpb are actually extremely lazy and the “incentive” is actually that they get to not work. Even if it means struggling financially on the benefit they don’t care because their sole mission in life is to sit around on their ass all day. Yes, that is truly living the dream. (especially since raising children is so incredibly easy)

  28. Lindsay 28

    Darel,

    Each year around 5,000 babies are added to a benefit that has been in place for 10 months or longer. The last time I asked the question 23 percent of people on the DPB had added children to their benefit. My source is the OIA. I am happy to copy responses to you.

    The rate of teenagers going on the DPB remains reasonably constant (with a slight rise with the recent rise in teenage fertility rate) despite economic conditions.

    Thanks for the Law Report. I agreed earlier with you that this was one of the reasons for introducing the DPB. Unfortunately in absolving the father from severe penalty for non-support we know have around 130,000 liable parents. 60,000 pay the bare minimum of just over $2 a day. (Again my source is OIA request to IRD) When the entire DPB bill is considered (incl accommodation supplement, family tax credits etc) fathers are only paying about 7 Percent.

    There is US and European research that show a link between the level of welfare payment and the incidence of single parenthood. I will look it up and post later. I rely on international research because NZ has none of this type.

  29. prism 29

    There is no doubt that baby production is inefficient with poor outcomes at times. Perhaps we should bring military efficiency to bear on it. Or we should read and learn from the book written by Aldous Huxley about producing babies in optimum conditions.
    At school youngsters should be trained firstly in the responsibilities of their sexuality because uncontrolled it can have such disastrous consequences and then the 3 R’s, then all the other stuff.
    Possibly a mix of the above approaches would help. But it’s unpleasant to have someone with a male bean-counter’s mind looking at the DPB situation as a money and people management, like a dairy farmer looking at optimum treatment for his herd.

    I

  30. mcflock 30

    Seems to have been a bit of a logical disjunct there – Darel asked if Lindsay had any data on the sea of incentivised DPB baby factories, we get in response “Each year around 5,000 babies are added to a benefit that has been in place for 10 months or longer”.

    So, Lindsay, is the birthrate for people on a benefit 10 months or longer higher or lower than the general population? Is any difference between the two rates larger than the margin for error?

    Or, when you realised you have no idea (beyond your own prejudices) as to the actual levels of benefit abuse by wilful procreation, did you just factory-reset to “problem has big numbers, must be bad”?

  31. Bill 31

    Beneficiaries ( and many others) are victims of government insofar as government condones and seeks to merely manage systems rank with discriminations flowing from racism, patriarchy and capitalism.

    Some women on the DPB are on the receiving end of the the whole gamut of systemic discriminations present in society. And, not surprisingly, that fucks many of them up quite a lot.

    They can come to see their situation as one of zero prospects and wind up with zero self esteem…and wind up chasing a sense of worth based on satisfying the expectations of the males around them. And those expectations are often pretty fucked up and selfish because they too are on the receiving end of a whole heap of systemic prejudice and disadvantage. Their one advantage is that they have one final layer of society they can exercise power over; one final layer of society to pass the parcel of exploitation on to…women.

    That NZ voted for a government that looks to not just wash it’s hands of its share of responsibility for blighted lives but whip up prejudice against those people is deeply sad and utterly reprehensible.

    The long and short of it is that governments generally expect thanks for offering crutches to the people whose legs it has broken. But Nact are only bringing crutches along to pass to each other for a turn at poking and prodding.

  32. Olwyn 32

    Well said Bill. This from John Minto’s blog; “I would be happy for the dole to be abolished altogether provided there was the guarantee of a decent job for everyone giving a decent standard of living based on 40 hours work.”

    If the NZ working class had the means and stability to build lives, that is what they would mostly do, because that is what most people want to do. Hence there would be less people on benefits – less solo mums, less useless dads, because they would all have an achievable mission in life, as opposed to rolling with the punches all the time.

    People need (1) A living wage, (2) Stable housing, (3) A genuine say in what happens to them.

    • Bill 32.1

      And we know that your number (3) will not simply ‘come about’ because Social Democracies and the financial agendas the governments of Social Democracies necessarily serve, utterly depend on no genuine say being present.

      And we know that they justifiably fear such a demand being made and gaining traction because they cannot deliver such a thing and hang on to their power.

      As such, your number (3) will only ever have a chance of becoming reality via revolution. Even then, nothing is guaranteed because revolutions have a habit of being captured and degenerating to the level of sick caricatures or ridiculous parodies of what it was that went before.

      Genuine community based initiatives that do not depend on government funding and that do not operate within specific political, cultural or religious confines might be the solution. And it’s all possible from the moment that we decide we want it and decide that it is we who are going to put it in place and develop it.

      Until then…

  33. Until then

    …take a ticket and stand in line.

  34. Jenny 34

    “supporting people, into work’.Paula Bennet, (with added punctuation).

    Some people on this thread have questioned Paula Bennet’s claim that her scheme will deliver support;

    Well let me correct all you cynical doubters out there. The following link explains how Bennet’s job search scheme for the unemployed will provide practical support, at a time when thousands are being laid off.

    http://www.viruscomix.com/page413.html

    Employer comment:

    “Excellent”, Mr Burns

    “Works for me”, Scrooge McDuck

    “No, no. Not cruel enough” Walmart spokesperson. (by email)

  35. Darel 35

    Lindsay

    I would be very pleased to receive the OIAs you’ve asked or maybe you could post them on your site?

    If around 5,000 babies are born to people on the dpb each year then that’s about 5% each year. What proportion of those do we think are doing it for a lifestyle choice?

    You say about a quarter of all dpb beneficiaries have added a child while on the benefit. So if having another child is equated with a lifestyler, presumably to prolong the benefit, then only a quarter are lifestylers.

    I’m not surprised that there is a positive relationship between the level of welfare payment and the incidence of single parenthood, up to a point. I imagine that pre-dpb many, poorer women in abusive relationships couldn’t afford to leave their partner and raise the child. The fact of more single parent families might be a positive outcome of the dpb. When I’ve read on this aspect its clear that two loving parents are better than one loving parent but it’s the loving part that matters.

    I had some other questions in my last post that I wouldn’t mind a lead on papers you’ve read or research you’ve done.

    I’m really interested in finding out what proportion of people on the dpb are lifestylers, my hunch remains that its a small proportion but the evidence will tell.

    I’m not convinced that having more children is a great proxy for lifestylers but I’ll agree it’s a reasonable group to start an investigation.

    The view you’ve published is that introducing a work test when the youngest child turns six will encourage people on the dpb to make sure their youngest child is never older than six.

    If I accept that as the likely response from people on the dpb, or a significant proportion of them, then the current behaviour should be about having children as quickly as you can to get to the desirable level of benefit. And then there should be a long delay before more children are produced to prolong the time on the benefit. That’s pretty crudely put, but I’d expect to see two peaks of birth activity. If you got raw data through OIAs so we might be able to start testing for this kind of pattern.

    Very interesting.

  36. Lindsay 36

    I think there is a subtle difference between making an active decision and simply not avoiding something. But they are still behavioural responses. Some research surveys low socio-economic young women and asks whether having a child would change their circumstances for the worse and only a minority agree. Hence they don’t avoid putting themselves into a situation whereby they are dependent on welfare. That’s how I define ‘lifetsyle’ choices. Labour also used the term in its Pathways to Opportunity reforms 2001.

    For academic work on the link between increased welfare payments and the incidence of single parenthood (in Europe), Libertad Gonzales is a good source.

    And then a book I refer to regularly, The End of Welfare by Michael Tanner, has many references to studies into the link (US). It is available on the net, but unfortunately many of the papers it cites are not.

    http://books.google.co.nz/books?id=h1Yx1Zth2LIC&printsec=frontcover&dq=end+of+welfare&source=bl&ots=neVN5pJElA&sig=DcA4bG1H8uzS9x3fcbVYuO-F5qU&hl=en&ei=ZGeuS_SJJZLetgOBy536Cw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CBQQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=&f=false

    Why don’t you send me an e-mail re the OIA stuff;

    dandl.mitchell@clear.net.nz

  37. The view you’ve published is that introducing a work test when the youngest child turns six will encourage people on the dpb to make sure their youngest child is never older than six.

    Bennett told the Star-Times that beneficiaries would not be forced to move to places where more jobs were available.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/3517481/Solo-mum-racks-up-36-years-on-benefit

    In which case, as their child approaches 6 (but more like 5 so they can get settled before school starts), i’d imagine there’ll be a few who move to a place of high unemployment or low employment opportunities where the cost involved in getting work outweigh the benefits of working .

    “People’s reasons for living where they do are many and varied and I am hesitant to make an assumption that people live where they do to avoid work.” – Basher Benny

    oh bullshit. she basically just unhesitantly stated her assumption so I bet she’s has got a way to stop that from happening.

    But how does that go ?…denying families the opportunity to escape from an urban ghetto by legislating to restrict their movements ?…if theres no jobs in the city, you cant afford to go out or get high, the rent is too much and the education sucks why not move to the country…sheeeeeit as long as you got internet you’re sweet

    I mean, what greater lifestyle choice can be made than to move to the country and stay on the benny ?

    • Bill 37.1

      I’m guessing the WINZ rules that stopped people on the benefits moving to where they preferred to live are still in force? eg If you were unemployed and moved to the West Coast you would be declined a benefit.

      • pollywog 37.1.1

        Really ?… That’s gotta contravene some human rights type of shit. At least in the country you got a better chance of making ends meet growing and hunting your own food, especially if theres no jobs in the city and you can get casual seasonal work in the boonies.

        I could never understand why people stayed in ghettoes in NZ when they didnt have to. When working social services in Sth Aux i was amazed that people had never been outside the city and didn’t know any better.

        As soon as shit took a turn for the worse and i could see us spiraling down, i got us the fuck outta there.

        • Bill 37.1.1.1

          I think the rationale went along the lines of you were not actively seeking employment and/or that you were not making yourself available for paid employment….there being no job opportunities in the area you were moving to.

  38. Darel 38

    Lindsay

    I’m still no closer to understanding what proportion of women on the dpb are lifestylers but whatever criteria you use.

    Of course many poor women will agree that having a child will not make them worse off. I’d imagine that most women and men would agree, say between 20 and 40.

    Poor people agreeing that you wont be worse off by having child is not the same thing as saying women on the dpb are choosing that approach to life, or even letting it happen. Unless that is what you are saying. Are you saying that all poor women on the dpb, or at least a significant proportion, by definition, are lifestyling?

    Lindsay, what do you think about the other responses I’ve made in earlier posts? I imagine you’ve actually got a clear definition of what you mean by lifestylers and I’m interested to hear it. I imagine you don’t care about some of the abusive sorts that lurk around so you might as well share it and be damned.

    In tertiary education we talk about a certain group of mainly poor women who access hairdressing education through which they learn good generic skills (literacy, numeracy, customer service, business management). They do that because they can visualise themselves being a hairdresser (plus a few other types of jobs). So when it comes to public policy we might take the view that although the number of people being trained to be a hairdresser well exceeds the jobs, the positive externalities are very high so we might be more relaxed about this education. Of course we’d prefer that people had a boarder view of their possibilities and took a more direct route to get there, but in the short term, if hairdressing education is one of the few ways of getting some people better education, then let’s do that. It’s pretty hard for a society to be too educated, and there are good benefits to raising the lowest level up a notch, so there is a good argument for a bit of fuzziness in this policy example.

    I look forward to your response.

  39. 6 of the 10 girls my eldest daughter came though kura kaupapa with had babies either while still at school or within one year after it…dont know if it was a lifestyle choice but it was certainly easier than getting a shit job which was all they were qualified for.

    None have gone on to tertiary education yet although it is an option my daughter is holding out for since she and another were the only ones who qualified to. It’s just a case of simple economics as to when.

    It’s also just a simple case of economics to be a mother and get pretty much the same as what they’d get working while still feeling they are valued and needed, if only by their children. It’s not a choice i allowed my daughter to entertain though. One thing she doesnt have is a self esteem problem and the need to feel validated by doing what women are created to do, at least not at such an early age.

    Ideally, in older times the young mothers kids were handed over to the older village mothers within the tribe to be raised while they did the tasks of growing and gathering food. Marriages were arranged and children born out of wedlock to other men from outside their tribe had the right to journey to their lands as part of a quest of knowing and were to be welcomed when they got there.

    It really did take a village to raise a child, only now there’s barely any villages left and the state, in taking over governance and sovereignty have bred a welfare dependent state of mind that has changed native pasifikan culture for the worse.

    • B 39.1

      I still do not agree that the DPB is any kind of incentive. Even a ‘shit job’ pays more than the dpb once you take the cost of raising a child into account. It’s not ‘easier’ to raise children than to work full time either.

      However, you make a good point when you say that these girls feel valued and needed in their role as a mother. To feel valued and secure in the society we live in is something we all want and need, and for many people gender, ethnicity, class or all three play a huge part in how much they are valued by society. It is the people who are most valued by society (white, middle & upper class) who are least likely to become teenage mothers. These privileged young women are not only given every opportunity to succeed, they have grown up with the message society sends that women like them can and do succeed. In other words they have many options for a meaningful life other than having children.

      Addressing these kinds of underlying causes is what the government would focus on if they really wanted to reduce numbers of young mothers on the DPB.

    • Bill 39.2

      ‘older times’?

      Not that long ago, and not just in Pasifika culture.

      Way after enclosure, in my parents’ generation, ( European working class) the extended family and community took a lot more to do with child rearing than would seem imaginable today.

      I guess we, they or whoever gave it all away (governance) in pursuit of non-slum housing, flushing toilets and washing machines…

      Different beginnings, same bum deal, same endings.

      • pollywog 39.2.1

        tru dat Bill…

        My palagi father got lumped with 5 kids on the dpb after mum died young and the only thing that saved us from being put into state care was, we lived in a small town with family support from his sisters and mother so we couldn’t really get into that much trouble, but damn there were some close calls. Though still damaged, it didnt kill us and made us stronger as adults, more determined to get off the welfare cycle and live outside the stereotype. None of us have been to jail and none is on the dole.

        But anyway, i’ll be keen to see what ‘whanau ora’ is all about and it pisses me off not to hear cashed up iwi making a big noise about looking after their most vulnerable and weakest rather than the latest property they’ve developed or negotiation bonus the most privileged and strongest have awarded themselves.

  40. Even a ‘shit job’ pays more than the dpb once you take the cost of raising a child into account. It’s not ‘easier’ to raise children than to work full time either.

    …working with a child doesn’t pay more though, so it’s the soft option if it means you dont have to work at all, and it’s easier to take the money, neglect the child and pawn it off to the grandparents, than it is to work full time also. At least you can still party like you dont have to get up for work any day of the week.

    I don’t think poor young pasifikan women and men really understand that, its not enough to love and feed and clothe them as best as possible, that having a child does not neccessarily make you a grown up adult or that being a solo parent inhibits your chances for securing a meaningful partner.

    Theres a hell of a lot more to successfully ‘raising’ a child than they could possibly know and that’s where we need to educate them before they decide to have children. Sadly though, it seems it’s every ethinicity and class out for themselves with the ruling class being traditionally WASPish and skewing policy to favour their own ‘tribe’…

    • B 40.1

      Sorry to be pedantic but actually a minimum wage job full time does normally pay a bit more as you get working for families tax credits and accomodation supplement etc. However it is a lot harder to work as well as raising your children.

      The point I was trying to make though is that teenage girls don’t have children in the first place to get the dbp. Maybe there’s a case that its easier to stay on it once you already have kids but the whole “breeding for business” argument is in my opinion completely nuts. Having a baby is incredibly scary and traumatic for a teenager and the life of a dpb mum is not something she would purposely choose. In fact I think the way comments like this are thrown around by (mostly male) politicians and commentators is disgusting and perverted.

      • pollywog 40.1.1

        Having a baby is incredibly scary and traumatic for a teenager and the life of a dpb mum is not something she would purposely choose. In fact I think the way comments like this are thrown around by (mostly male) politicians and commentators is disgusting and perverted.

        eh ?..disgusting and perverted ?

        I’m not saying young women deliberately get pregnant to go on the benny but if they’re not educated and don’t take precautions then do get pregnant… it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the only other choice is abortion, which i would imagine is far more scary and traumatic than having the baby.

        So in choosing not to terminate they are deliberately purposely consigning themeselves to a life on the dpb especially if the father is not in a stable relationship with her and initially opts for termination or the child was the result of a one night stand.

        By and large, teenagers aren’t generally known for making wise choices. If they think they’re a failure at most things without even trying, the rationale is at least they can be a good mother.

        • B 40.1.1.1

          “By and large, teenagers aren’t generally known for making wise choices. If they think they’re a failure at most things without even trying, the rationale is at least they can be a good mother.”

          Yes I agree

          My disgusting & perverted comment wasn’t aimed at your comment it was aimed at those people who do imply that teenagers deliberately get pregnant to go on the dpb – John Key (breeding for business) and Garth George among others. They seem to be suggesting that these teenagers are going out and sleeping with random guys in order to get pregnant and collect the wonderful cash reward that is the dpb. (in other words prostituting themselves for money). I just find that really offensive considering the emotional turmoil and hardship these girls go through as teen mums. To me there is something disgusting about an adult man labelling girls who are little more than children as bimbos out for the cash.

  41. Jum 41

    I think we owe a vote of thanks to The Standard for putting up this thread and Lindsay Mitchell for attempting to one-woman-band answer the many posters’ comments.

    This issue has never had such a worthy airing. Media coverage has been judgmental about DPB women not staying married. In the 90s the Herald displayed a whole page interview with some visiting American conservative who attacked our women on the DPB and what should be done to them.

    Luckily, some good ideas like the crèches for returning mothers to education have given some self worth back to mums.

    DPB’s worst critics are often other women. I’ve never got that. It leaves these DPB women totally alone and defenceless which makes them the ideal sport for right-wing politicians and even left-wing conservatives. Let’s not forget some of the men keen to get rid of Helen Clark, just because she was a woman, weren’t all from the right. They voted for National in 2008 which had a youngish rich white male brought in and groomed to stroke their prejudices.

    But, the most UNFORGIVABLE crime conservative governments commit is when the children, having been force-fed how useless their mother is at keeping a husband/partner and not looking like a fashion model and not dashing out to work for the few hours she actually has time to herself and forgetting that she is father and mother 24/7, begin to attack her.

    They begin to ignore her instructions and rules because she has no power in society and therefore no authority with them. Boys are always the hardest to handle because they are told that women are not as important as men and a separated father may exploit that.

    Many daughters will become pregnant because no one expects anything else of them. In fact many men think that’s all women should be doing, but it has to be under a man’s control. That is the crux of the matter with male and female conservatives.

  42. Jum 42

    part 2

    Having thanked Lindsay Mitchell for staying the course I still take her to task for having a closed mind to anything but the rightwing view of women and how she can state that society and government does not treat women as inferior or of lesser value takes my breath away. Business is society and they apply some of the most draconian inequities to women not just that of unequal pay for work of equal value. Pay Equity thrown out is government instigated.

    No Lindsay. No converts for you today.

  43. Jum 43

    Boys are always the hardest to handle

    should read Boys are often the hardest to handle.

    • RedLogix 43.1

      Jum,

      I agree, a great thread I’ve only just had time to read… congrats to both sides for maintaining a sane and interesting debate.

      I do have a genuine question, one that is sincerely not intended to be provocative. In debates like this there we tend to resort very often to the short-hand notion of ‘society’. For instance you write above, They begin to ignore her instructions and rules because she has no power in society and therefore no authority with them. (I agree incidentally, but this is beside my point.).

      But this seems to neglect the fact that 50% of ‘society’ are other women. Moreover in my humble experience of life, the harshest critics of women are in fact… other women. From my poor old male perspective I have nothing but admiration for women, who despite a total lack of useful support from the feckless males in their lives, press ahead with the monumental task of raising children.

      Yet it is other women who will dish out the hurtful gossip and snide comments to those who they perceive as having stepped outside the acceptable boundaries. (And men do this to each other as well so it’s not like one gender has a monopoly on this behaviour.) I guess my point is this, that simply blaming ‘society’s’ treatment of single mothers on the ‘patriarchy’ seems to me a simplistic and uni-dimensional. There must be more to it than this.

      • prism 43.1.1

        From my observations RL women often prefer to fall in with the dominant line in society which often reflects a male attitude. There is more kudos in pointing the finger at ‘those’ people who offend some established behaviour. This gives an automatic hoist to the speaker up the social ladder, to an elevated position that can be improved on. Women on the lower rungs may have trouble shifting or even fall further and become pariahs in decent society.
        Women in general are dependent on being well thought of for their position in society. Not for most of them to bulldoze through taking an unpopular view. Also it is generally not done to be aggressive, but strong-minded women often practise passive aggression and that can involve much fault-finding or worse and not much generosity of spirit to women deemed of lesser status.

      • Jum 43.1.2

        I did explain in the earlier post that I felt women were certainly the worst critics of women on DPB.

        But, an underlying idea I have is that often women will criticize/judge other women in order to escape attention and perhaps censure and gain favour with male colleagues, family, male friends, etc.in social gatherings. They will subdue the bile and smile sweetly, because that’s what they’ve been trained to do. This is not an equal society. That’s why this government got away with telling women they are not worth equal pay and all they got was a telling off from the women’s groups – pathetic.

        That is why many of them chose Key over Clark, even though she was by far the better leader by a thousand per cent. They’ve been trained to believe that women are incapable of being leaders. It’s time women realized that the days of being independent, making their own decisions and being responsible for their own decisions instead of everyone else’s are here. Why on earth would they still want to take responsibility but none of the power? I don’t get it either.

        Religion should be shot. I know it brings many people solace and a something or other they can tell their troubles to, but the price that women have to pay is to be subservient to it. Even men have to play a role they may not want to. Religion is a deeply flawed model and its major aim has, is and always will be to encapsulate women in a subsidiary role to men.

        Sorry Red Logix but the dynamics between men and women in our current society always end with women coming off second best. Patriarchy is the game and if you don’t play the game you will be sent off the field along with all those other DPBs, unemployed maladjusted and I’m sure you get the gist. Women fear reprisals, like they fear rape and that’s what keeps them under control and until they join together to protect one another it won’t change. This government knows that and actively works to keep it that way.

      • B 43.1.3

        Agree 100% with Jum’s comment esp regarding religion – Even though most people in NZ society are not religious, our history is firmly grounded in Christianity and everything that goes with it. Society’s moral values were originally based on Christianity and still survive to this day. So women are still expected to serve men in many ways even though religion itself is dying out. If it is the social norm to be a certain way then most people will fit in with that behaviour even if it disadvantages them.

  44. RedLogix 44

    Benebasher Bennett’s “kick’em of the week” is here.

    Just another of a very clear pattern of ‘releases’ intended to discredit the welfare system. We’ve been getting these directly from Bennett’s office about once every few weeks in what must be a deliberately planned policy.

    Of course every large system has a small minority of extreme cases at the margin, and an even smaller number of rorters and ripoffs. Bennett’s office knows this perfectly well and is exploiting them in a systematic, cynical fashion in order to influence public opinion against the majority of beneficiaries.

    There can be only one reason for this; to set the ground-work for a major assault on the welfare system.

  45. B 45

    Ironic when you think of all the wealthy people tax dodging, some of whom must have ripped the govt for millions. Where’s the press releases on them?

  46. Darel 46

    Lindsay was kind enough to send me some OIA data she has collected.

    At this point of discussion I still don’t know what people mean by lifestylers or approximately what proportion of dpb recipients they constitute.

    It seems we should know what the nature and scope of the problem is before rushing into changing policy.

  47. Jum 47

    B you will find that the societal take on women is much the same as the media take on tax dodges.

    Power controls the powerless.

    spam word: worker

  48. Lindsay 48

    Jum

    I have a very deep commitment to the belief that as well-intentioned as it was, the unexpected consequences of the DPB trump whatever problems it was trying to solve. Politics (although I stood twice as an ACT candidate) now leaves me cold. Thanks for the acknowledgement. Our fundamental difference lies in what role the state should play in private life.

    Red Logix

    National is trying to soft soap the electorate for reform through highlighting ‘outrageous’ abuse. It’s an easy but dishonest approach and hurts beneficiaries across the board. It shouldn’t substitute for some rigorous analysis and appraisal of the current extent of dependency. NZ hasn’t conducted the kind of research that other western nations have in this arena.

    Pollywog, Thank you for fleshing out what I see amongst communities I’ve worked in and can’t write about freely. Pakeha to some extent have doubly shafted Maori. Having said that, practising victimhood is a waste of time and lives. I am glad your daughter’s psyche is strong. No doubt a reflection of your own. If you think I am patronising – maybe I am and can’t see it myself.

    • pollywog 48.1

      S’all good Lindsay. I don’t understand why you can’t write about it freely though and no i don’t think you’re being patronising.

      I think my daughter has an equal opportunist view of childcare/parenting cos i did the solo dad thing and got them out of sth aux when their mum was in a bad headspace and made some not so healthy choices on their behalf, so i got a lawyer and custody.

      Even now, it was more beneficial for my current lady to work towards a career while i stay home and do the full time childcare/housecare thing rather than me chasing work overseas or out of town. Financially we’ve taken a bit of a hit but the kids are in better shape for it i reckon.

      And now that i’ve got a bit of time on my hands which i have to juggle around our youngest 2 yr old i’m thinking of getting back into voluntary community work.

    • B 48.2

      Lindsay thanks for sharing yr views. From reading your posts your argument regarding the dpb seems to be

      1) a lot of people are on it- more than before- some for a long time
      2)society has not benefited from it
      3)many teenagers from low socioeconomic backgrounds go on it as a lifestyle choice
      4)It has unintended consequences: the state has replaced fathers with the dpb which encourages women to leave relationships by offering the cash reward of dpb
      5)male ‘hangers on’ increasing violence to dpb mums.
      6)It is now easier for women to work and men to share parenting so there is no need for dpb

      ok heres my take-

      1)society has changed in past 30 odd years – divorce and single parenthood is now (more)socially accepted. I think this would explain the larger numbers on it. Some are on it for a long time, yes perhaps they need it.
      2)with the increase in numbers of sole parents it could be argued that the dpb has averted a huge social problem – massive poverty leading to crime etc
      3)I think I already answered this one pretty thoroughly earlier in the thread
      4)Ditto (NOT cash reward)
      5)before the dpb women did not have the choice to leave violence -now they do (including leaving the hangers on)
      6)Not all men stick around to share the parenting and working full time while raising children puts undue hardship on both mother and children. Children have the right to be looked after by their parent – not stuck in childcare everyday after school and during holidays.

  49. Jum 49

    Lindsay,
    No prob. The reason we will never agree on what role the state should play in private life is because of my total distrust of the male control in the market place which Act worships and the ongoing governments that condone the outcomes for women. That’s why we need the DPB in spite of a few women/men (it usually involves men somewhere along the line!) corrupting its umbrella philosophy.

    But if you look at society in general, the most powerful are women, but they are still in disarray. Men are afraid of that power but women are more so in what may manifest if all the gloves come off. At the heart of it, women are still choosing to protect their children by not pushing the boundaries.

    There has been the rare occasion: we did see an example of women taking action in Ireland with the peace march, which caused a slight shift in thinking. The history of Ireland is of extreme violence; these women risked their lives.

    However, in this present climate, the children are actually being seen/proved to be not protected – catholic church abuse uncovered, a women being killed once a fortnight. according to some statistics with the associated family abuse, the global misuse of children in rape, in war, in slavery, the Congo atrocities, babies being raped to cure Aids and it must be tens of thousands or millions of women being trafficked, then I believe the powers that be should start to be concerned for their positions.

    Even women will finally understand that in making themselves invisible to power, they have become expendable and the future of their children’s children at risk.

    It’s called eve-lution and the seeds are right here, right now.

  50. Darel 50

    Paula Bennett’s “shake up’ of those using welfare “as a lifestyle choice’ means we need to know who this group is. The Minister cites one example regarding the dpb a saving of $200m over 10 years if 5% of sole parents with a youngest child aged over six exit the dpb. (Susan St John has pointed out the maximum saving is $30m. While a fiscal saving is nice the policy doesn’t need it to be worthwhile. Better accuracy would be nice though).

    So maybe 5% is the proportion the Minister has in mind. It’s a figure I would find reasonable as a starting point just on the assumption that 5%, even cabinet ministers, have been proven to over-respond to incentive payments.

    If it is only 5% that are being targeted then this policy will affect a lot of people it isn’t intended to. Also $5.5m in staff time, IT and resources will be spent on the Future Focus programme.
    http://www.msd.govt.nz/about-msd-and-our-work/work-programmes/initiatives/future-focus/index.html

    I would want to be a little clearer about targeting before coming up with a policy response. But I am skeptical about the ability to find systematic abuse because otherwise it would have been done and trumpeted.

    Here’s another way into better description. We know the numbers of dpb recipients were declining until the recent economic shock and are still low as a proportion of the population. My hypothesis is that the bulk of people that have just come onto, or back, to the dpb is a reaction to the economic shock rather than a lifestyle choice. I would look at this limited group to discover what makes them different because I think they will be part of providing objective traits of those who are not lifestylers.

    I suspect that most simply lost work rather than spurned low paying work.. Alternatively, the cost of working (eg travel and childcare) outweighed the cost of not working.

    Lindsay, do you have a research programme and is something like this on it?

    Of course, some people who don’t do paid work are still worthy recipients of the dpb so investigating this group isn’t going to do all the heavy definitional lifting.

    What I don’t see is evidence for systematic baby rearing in order to stay on the benefit. I’ve described what that might look like in an earlier post.

    John Tamihere used a useful idea of respite vs residence in terms of welfare use on Q+A. It’s not perfect in that some people who “reside’ on welfare are legitimately there as all panelists agreed (mentally ill, etc). But it is a concept that is quite helpful in the case of dpb where there is a lot of churn going onto and off the benefit.

    Much of what the Minister says (eg people that can work should work) has been said by politicians of various hues since the beginning of the welfare state. It’s in the definitions that we’ll see the differences, eg what does “can work’ mean for this Minister?

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • New digital service to make business easy
    A new digital platform aims to make it easier for small businesses to access services from multiple government agencies, leaving them more time to focus on their own priorities. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Minister for Small Business Stuart Nash ...
    1 day ago
  • Million-dollar start to gun collection events
    Million-dollar start to gun collection events  Police Minister Stuart Nash says a solid start has been made to the gun buyback and amnesty after the first weekend of community collection events. “Gun owners will walk away with more than ...
    2 days ago
  • Praise after first firearms collection event
    Police Minister Stuart Nash has praised Police and gun owners after the first firearms collection event saw a busy turnout at Riccarton Racecourse in Christchurch. “Police officers and staff have put a tremendous effort into planning and logistics for the ...
    2 days ago
  • New Police constables deployed to regions
    Seventy-eight new Police constables are heading out to the regions following today’s graduation of a new recruit wing from the Royal New Zealand Police College. Police Minister Stuart Nash says the record high number of new Police officers being recruited, ...
    1 week ago