welfare

Where are all the benefit babies born?

Lindsay Mitchell has been doing some research on where all the benefit babies are being born.

Unsurprisingly bludgers beget bludgers…and it’s growing.

Every year I track how many benefit babies there are relative to the total births. Being a ‘benefit baby’ means relying on a parent or caregiver’s benefit  by the the end of their birth year. Most will become reliant nearer to their birth date rather than first birthday. Many will go on to experience long-term deprivation.

This year I asked for a  breakdown by Work and Income Service Centre. That was provided. Then I asked the Ministry of Health for District Health Board birth data for 2015. They very quickly obliged without an OIA. Credit to them.

It was then straight forward to place each service centre in a DHB  and calculate the percentage of babies in each district that would be benefit-dependent before their first birthday.

Where the benefit babies are born

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Massive changes to child protection and care

It has been obvious for years that Child Youth and Family was broken. Today the government announced massive changes including the a replacement agency for CYF.

Anne Tolley made the announcement:

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley says Cabinet has agreed to major state care reforms and a complete overhaul of Child, Youth and Family to improve the long-term life outcomes for New Zealand’s most vulnerable population.

“The whole system needs to be transformed if we are to give these young people the protection and life opportunities they deserve,” says Mrs Tolley.

“After making a very clear case for change in its interim report, the expert panel advising me on the radical overhaul of CYF has delivered a final report with a bold set of recommendations for a new child-centred system which the government is taking action on. I want to thank Dame Paula Rebstock, the panel and its support team, and my youth advisory panel for their hard work and dedication.

“A new system will be in place by the end of March 2017 which will have high aspirations for all children and address their short and long-term wellbeing and support their transition into adulthood.

“It will focus on five core services – prevention, intensive intervention, care support services, transition support and a youth justice service aimed at preventing offending and reoffending.”    Read more »

New laws kick in today – this is what you need to know

Fairfax lists the new laws kicking in today and how you may, or may not, be affected:

Zero hour contracts, which meant no guaranteed hours for some workers, will become illegal.

The biggie is the Health and Safety at Work Act, which takes effect on Monday.

Health and safety you say? That’s my favourite subject!

Really? Wow. In that case, you will be interested to know Worksafe is more likely to prosecute employers as a result of the law. Workers will also have obligations though so everyone will need to be on top of what’s expected.

The new law requires employers to take “reasonably practicable” steps to manage health and safety risks at work. It also means company directors need to be more hands-on about health and safety and all businesses need make sure staff are well-involved in such things.

What about all this talk about schools having to ban kids from climbing trees because of the changes? 

It depends who you’re talking to.

Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse says not only is it possible for kids to continue climbing tees but he “actively encourages” it. Both Worksafe and the Ministry of Education have provided advice to schools on what “reasonably practicable” steps means for them.

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Lindsay Mitchell on the UBI

Lindsay Mitchell is aghast; she calls Labour’s idea “profoundly stupid”:

Giving every teenager $200 a week when they turn 18 is a profoundly stupid idea.

The most meaningful reform National has made is scrapping the old cash benefit available to youth and young parents. Instead their income from the state is managed and there are tight strings attached. They get a tiny sum of cash and can only increase it by meeting certain challenges. They are heavily mentored, parented in a way they have probably never been before. The idea is to get educational qualifications, work skills and self esteem into them before it is too late.

An unconditional $200 a week would reverse this whole approach. It would be madness.

It would replicate the mindset of generational dependency seen in families that encourage – even expect – their kids to go on the dole or DPB as soon as possible to boost the family’s income.

Its a truly frightening prospect.

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Someone’s got to say it; may as well be me

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The NZ Herald today published the names and details, such as the law allows, of the 61 children killed in the past 10 years.

It is a helpful list, and it reveals several factors that could be used to identify children at risk.

Here are the names and brief details, for the full information you can find it at the Herald:

Chris and Cru Kahui, Cheyenne Petersen, Tyla-Maree Darryl Flynn, Nia Maria Glassie, Jyniah Mary Te Awa, Tahani Mahomet , Dylan Rimoni, Duwayne Tietutaote Pajlegutu, Riley Justin Osborne, Cherishsiliala Tahuri-Wright, Jayrhis Lock-Tata, Trent James Matthews, Kash Meshetti McKinnon, Jacqui Petersen-Davis, Hail-Sage McClutchie, Karl Richard Arch Perigo-Check, Seini Unaloto Ikamanu, Cezar Taylor, Sahara Jayde Koro-Baker, Mikara Reti, Serenity Jay Sott-Dennington, Terepo Taura-Griffiths, James Joseph Ruhe Lawrence, Hinekawa Topia, Leilane Mary Jane Lotonu’u-Lorigan, Raynar-Lee Soljar Thompson-Hatley, Atreyu Taylor-Matene, Cassius Takiari, Soul Mathew Turany, Aaliyah Ashlyn Chand, Leith Allen Hutchison, Leon Jayet-Cole, Esme Kinraid, Gracie-May McSorley, Ihaka Paora Braxton Stokes, Maggie Renee Watson, Moko Sayviah Rangitoheriri, Matiu Wereta.

That list is a travesty. But, as you can see and read from the Herald summary, there seem to be four factors common amongst almost all of them.   Read more »

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Government forms new intelligence unit to combat gangs

Gangs cause untold misery in New Zealand, whether it be from violence or their drug trade. Wherever a gang exists misery is often close behind.

The government has moved to better arm themselves with information and for that reason Police and Social Development have created a new gang intelligence centre.

The numbers are staggering.

Nine of every 10 gang members in New Zealand have received a benefit or other welfare, costing the country $525 million between 1993 and 2014, a new report reveals.

Sixty per cent of children born to gang parents were abused or neglected, the report, by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD), also found.

In total, cycles of violence within gang families will cost New Zealand’s welfare system $714 million over their lifetimes.

The startling figures are behind a Government push to gather more data about gangs and their families, in an attempt to tackle the country’s rising prison population and poor record on family violence.

Police and Corrections Minister Judith Collins said gangs were a “huge driver” of child deaths and family violence, and tackling gangs would make a big difference to New Zealand’s poor record.

“If you…look at the number of people in jail, they are almost invariably victims of family violence themselves somewhere along the line, and that’s what breeds violence.

“If we’re going to really make a dent in those figures….and help people save their lives, we’re going to have to deal with those gangs.”

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Why isn’t this state house being sold, or a market rent being charged?

Yesterday Simon Collins tried a Pimp the Poor story about a state house worth nearly $2 million and being rented for under $100 per week.

I don’t know what drugs he was on in pimping this story but what is now likely to happen is that the hapless family he used for his story are likely to be turfed out, the house sold and the resulting cash used to buy more houses in other  areas…and that is precisely what should happen, or the house rented at a market rates.

The most expensive state house in the country is in the exclusive Auckland suburb of Westmere and valued at $2.54 million.

For the same price, house-hunters could buy 5.6 houses for the national median house price of $448,000, or 10.7 houses for the median house price of $236,000 in Southland.

The three-bedroom 100sq m house tops a list Housing New Zealand released following an Official Information Act request of the 10 most valuable properties on its books.

They were valued in July last year. All were in Auckland and worth more than $1.9 million. The list did not reveal the exact locations but did reveal the suburbs, which were some of the city’s most elite, including Westmere, Remuera, Mangere East, Ponsonby, Ellerslie, Orakei and Epsom.    Read more »

Mike Yardley on student loan bludgers

Mike Yardley lets rip on student loan bludgers.

The melange of migration-related headline grabbers in the past week brings into sharp focus what New Zealand is doing right and also badly wrong.

Inland Revenue (IRD) and our border control authorities are finally flashing their fangs against unrepentant student loan defaulters, who couldn’t give a flying fig about paying their dues to the taxpayer.

The warning bell clanged loudly before Christmas that Kiwis abroad heading home for the holidays may be arrested at the border if they’ve defaulted on their student loan. IRD starkly warned that those in “serious default” may be grounded until they have a repayment scheme in place.

Ngatokotoru Puna’s airport arrest over his $130,000 debt should serve as a potent deterrent to others, who blithely thumb their nose at their repayment obligations, don’t give a damn about their billowing debt, make no effort to contact IRD, and think they can swan in and out of New Zealand with impunity.

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Australia looking closely at our welfare reform

Welfare reform is becoming an issue in Australia.

Some have suggested that Australia should mimic the welfare reform that we have implemented.

Australia should look across the Tasman Sea for an innovative approach to deal with high youth unemployment levels.

The ratio of young Australians not in employment, education or training has substantially increased since the GFC. Currently 360,000 young people aged 15–24 are outside the workforce and full-time studies — a 25% hike since 2008 — and potentially on the route to a lifetime welfare dependence trap.

In 2012 New Zealand implemented a series of welfare reforms, including the introduction of an investment approach for the long-term management of its income support system. Through this new approach, actuarial valuation is used to determine the most effective forms of support to empower welfare recipients for a successful transition from welfare dependence to the workforce.

This is a win-win outcome for both government and jobseekers, with the disadvantaged youth prominently featuring in the program. In New Zealand, more than 70% of the total costs have gone to people who first received a benefit before reaching the age of 20.   Read more »

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Lindsay Mitchell tears the Morgan Foundation a new one

Lindsay Mitchell has written to the Dominion Post but, with their poor circulation, her letter will barely get read.

So, in the interests of greater coverage and transparency, here is her blog post calling out the Morgan Foundation.

An article appeared in this morning’s DomPost from one Dr Jess Berentson-Shaw of the Morgan Foundation. Apparently the first of three.

My response by way of a letter-to-the-editor:

Dear Editor

Dr Jess Berentson-Shaw of the Morgan Foundation (DomPost, Jan 1) argues that giving families cash with “no strings attached” is the best way of reducing child poverty. To support her argument she quotes from The Economist, “Unconditional Cash Transfers work better than almost anyone would have expected. They dent the stereotype of poor people as inherently feckless and ignorant”.    Read more »