Welfare and poverty

UK Cutting Benefits to Bludgers who won’t work

Welfare is a safety net, not a lifestyle choice. Ninety years of welfare has created intergenerational welfare dependency, and instead of accepting this, the Pommy Tory Party have been aggressively chasing people off welfare. They started by limiting the benefits any family can receive to twenty six thousand quid, which drove people to work. Previous some families were receiving double this, maying work very unattractive.

Now Iain Duncan Smith has started nailing bludgers who aren?t looking for work.

More than 466,000 people have their benefits suspended including 2,000 who are barred from claiming for three years

Nearly half a million people have had their benefits suspended over the past year after they failed to do enough to find work, turned down job offers or missed Jobcentre appointments, according to new figures.

A total of 466,000 people were hit by sanctions which saw them barred from claiming Job Seekers Allowance for an average of between four weeks and three months.

However, 2,000 repeat offenders were hit by significantly harder sanctions and had their benefits stopped for the next three years, including 49 single parents and 978 people under the age of 24.

Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary, hailed the figures as evidence that the sanctions system is deterring people from offending after the proportion of people sanctioned fell by 18 per cent.

He said that “there should be consequences” when people “don’t play by the rules”: “The vast majority of people on benefits want to work ? and take up all the support on offer to move into a job. We can see this from the record numbers of people in work and falling unemployment. ? Read more »

Guest Post – Douglas wrong about National

A guest post from Lindsay Mitchell.

Making some otherwise sound recommendations to his old party, Labour, Sir Roger Douglas made this statement:

??National’s do-nothing, status-quo approach to economic and social policy provides Labour with a real opportunity to get back up on its feet.?

In the last six years National has done more to address working-age welfare dependence than Labour did in the prior nine.

A Labour supporter would reject my claim on the basis that numbers on the unemployment benefit took a nosedive over their incumbency. That?s true. Work and Income put enormous effort into those on an unemployment benefit, and Labour luckily oversaw an economic boom (giving them full credit for which is as questionable as blaming National for the GFC.)

But chronic welfare dependence, a crippling social and economic issue for New Zealand, lies in the other main benefits:? pre-reform they were the DPB ?and Sickness/Invalid benefits combined.

In 2009, National set up the Welfare Working Group, and from there, commissioned the Taylor Fry actuarial work which exposed where long-term reliance is concentrated. The revelation that teen parents and other young?beneficiaries entering the system at 16 or 17 would stay there the longest was no surprise.

Through the early 2000s, while only 2-3 percent of the DPB total at any given time was teenagers, between a third and a half of all recipients had begun on welfare aged under twenty. Throughout Labour?s administration I argued that average stays on welfare were much longer than government issued figures. Point-in-time data produces much longer averages than data collected over a period of time, but it suited Labour politically to use the latter data to minimise average stays and downplay dependence.

To understand this statistical phenomena imagine a hospital ward with 10 beds. Nine are occupied year around by chronically ill patients; one is occupied on a weekly basis. At any point-in-time?9 patients have an average stay of 12 months and one, an average stay of one week. But calculated over the year, 85 percent of total patients had an average stay of just 1 week. Equate this to spells on welfare and you can see how long-term dependence can be disguised.

Here is the huge difference between National and Labour.

National looked for what Labour had denied. ? Read more »

Cat fight: Pagani vs St John

Josie Pagani and Susan St John are having a donnybrook over the direction of the Labour party and poverty.

One is an activist and member of the party the other is a lofty academic more attune with lecturing people.

My money is on the activist.

Susan St John accuses?me of ?visionless pro-work rhetoric? for writing in my blog?about?Labour?s position on extending the Working For Families?tax credit to families not in work.

I?m not sure if Susan St John thinks it would be more visionary to be ?anti-work?. I?m proud to support the core Labour value of work. The best way out of poverty is a well-paid job. The Labour movement is founded on the entitlement of working people to dignity through work and security when we can?t.

Those of us who have been in and around families needing benefits to live on have experienced the cycle of getting work, getting off the benefit and then getting back into it again. Work is the central security in our lives.

There will always be many who can?t work (or, often, could work but should not have to, such as many mothers of young children and many sick and disabled individuals among others.) Being ?pro-work? does not mean giving up on them or failing to represent them.

But my point was that you win the argument about doing more to help families on benefits if you can win the trust of those who are only two pay checks away from being on a benefit themselves.

Susan St John?s position implies the only way to help beneficiaries is by extending the in-work tax credit to beneficiaries. Yet we know that policy is unpopular.

So why don?t we get support to reduce child poverty and inequality? She implies the in-work tax credit for beneficiaries is unpopular because of the way it is framed. Others often say it is because voters don?t care about child poverty and inequality. I disagree.

Most New Zealanders really do care about child poverty. They understand the significance of increasing cash payments to beneficiaries. They?re not sceptical about the goal – they are sceptical about the in-work tax credit being the right tool to use.

It is revealing that, in an extensive quote from my previous column she left out this one:

?Only when we do that job properly (representing working people) do we win the trust of people to increase benefit levels; because another Labour principle is compassion.?

Yet that is the main point I was making: we lost trust. We have to ask why.

Read more »

A good start – Japanese have the right idea

Kiwis in Australia are whinging and moaning about their welfare “entitlements” being eroded. Whoopy.

In Japan they have moved to place restrictions on welfare for permanent foreign residents.

What a great idea…it would certainly save billions if implemented here.

Friday?s landmark decision by the Supreme Court that permanent foreign residents of Japan are not entitled to welfare benefits will discourage more municipalities than ever from doling out such aid amid ballooning public assistance expenditures, experts said Saturday.

Responding to a lawsuit filed by an 82-year-old Chinese resident of Oita, the top court stated in the first ruling of its kind that, legally speaking, permanent foreign residents don?t qualify for public assistance because they aren?t considered Japanese nationals.

The ruling is significant in that it finally clarifies whether permanent residents are eligible to claim welfare. For years, municipalities have been distributing welfare payments to financially needy foreigners with permanent or long-term residency status, including the spouses of Japanese and migrant workers from Brazil.? Read more »

A solution to feralism?

A commenters suggests a possible solution for the increasing incidence of feralism:

Billions of dollars have been spent on all types of programmes targeting Maori poverty, child abuse, crime, domestic violence, unemployment etc, nothing changes. Successive Governments claim to have the answers and new funding, new incentives, and new promises fail to stem the flow of depravity. Let’s just stop. No more special treatment, no more special funding, no more excuses. Hold parents responsible for the actions of the child. Hold Maori accountable for their over representation in these statistics. Demand they do something about it, because until such time as their own families judge them, it won’t change. STOP throwing money at them ? it doesn’t work.

Quite simply welfare doesn’t work.

I have told loads of politicians that welfare doesn’t work, invited them to come visit in South Auckland. One, a Labour MP promised to do so but never has…despite now working near where I was talking about.

If welfare was the answer then it was a bloody stupid question in the first place.

We have poured literally billions of dollars into welfare for various reasons…to protect the kids, to improve health, to make houses warm…the excuses are endless.

All that is generated is increased, weapons grade whinging about needing more….billions more.

If welfare was the answer then poverty, crime, child abuse and many other societal ills would have been solved a long, long time ago.

It is time to do something different.


Another Cunliffe balls up

David Cunliffe has developed a truthiness problem.

He told Gordon Campbell in an interview:

We?ve got ten minutes. I haven?t asked about your welfare policy, so I?ll make it specific. We all oppose fraud. Does Labour oppose the government?s new welfare fraud policy whereby the partners of welfare fraudsters will be criminally liable for the fraud, and for the repayment of the entire amount ? and not simply for the amount from which they might have indirectly benefitted. If re-elected will Labour retain this provision or scrap it ?

Scrap it.

Later in the day Labour voted to support the legislation. Chester Borrows has issued a press release that says:

Associate Social Development Minister Chester Borrows says Labour needs to be clear on where they stand on welfare fraud.? Read more »

“Forget reforming the welfare state. We must blow it to smithereens!”

Countries with comprehensive welfare systems teh world over are seeing an explosion of entitlements as bureaucrats and political parties use welfare to continually bribe voters.

If welfare worked and money was the answer then after literally billions of dollars each year in this this country you’d think we would have solved the issue. We haven;t and neither has anyone else.

Time for radical change…Martin Durkin explains.

IF TV?S Benefits Street raised a fuss, James Bartholomew?s The Welfare State We?re In should cause an earthquake. Never mind a few scrounging scallywags, Bartholomew?s book (just republished) gives us the total historical horror of the welfare state in living Technicolor.

Bartholomew is a Redbull double-espresso to Iain Duncan Smith?s limp chamomile tea. Forget reforming the welfare state. We must blow it to smithereens! Bartholomew is clearly a monster. Why else would he attack the welfare state with such ferocity? It is, after all, a modest attempt to help the vulnerable in difficult times. If it has grown enormously, it merely reflects the increasing cruelty of capitalism.

Ha! Bartholomew grabs the welfare state by the throat, and exposes something ugly, frightening and dehumanising. This isn?t a dry book about public policy. It?s an explosive blockbuster, guaranteed to boil your blood, beautifully written, sweeping in its scope.

It is about the transformation of a once independent, prosperous people into a demoralised, dispirited, lumpen mass. It explains why we marry less and divorce more (and the terrible human cost). It tells us why we are so stupid and unhealthy, why our state health system is so inadequate and cruel. It tells us why we don?t save any more, why we are no longer so charitable or polite. It tells us why popular entertainment has descended into pornographic imbecility, why human progress in the past century has fallen so far short of expectations.

The cost is huge in money terms. ?Benefits? alone account for about ?200bn a year ? more than the combined GDP of 30 African countries. But the result of this Niagara of handouts is not contentment. As Bartholomew shows with heartbreaking clarity, the real victims are those whom welfare is supposed to help. It has created legions of single mothers, fatherless children, and jobless boys and men. For them, the welfare state hasn?t given, it has taken. It has taken their savings, dignity, independence, initiative, pride, it has denied them full lives as productive economic agents. Walk through a council estate, as Bartholomew has many times, and witness what he calls the tragic ?concentration of despair?.? Read more »

Busting the poverty pimps

Our media loves to pimp the poor and tell us stories about poverty. The same happens in the UK and like here they get busted every time.

The latest poster child for the perils of poverty has just been busted for being a stupid cow.

This week, a charity called Church Action On Poverty launched a poster campaign that says ?Britain Isn?t Eating?, mocking the Tories? famous 1979 election campaign poster ?Britain Isn?t Working? that helped Margaret Thatcher to victory.

This time, the charity claims, the long queues are not for the dole office, but for food banks. ?Thousands are going hungry because of benefits changes,? it protests.

I thought of those posters when I read the story of Katie McGill, a 28-year-old unemployed single mum.

In an interview this week, Katie claimed her benefits payments soon won?t leave her enough to buy food and basic necessities for her two children.

Another victim of ?cruel Tory cuts?? Hardly.

This Christmas, Katie gave her two children Mya-Renee, three, and Calvin, eight, two new bikes, TVs, DVDs and numerous computer games ? all paid for after she took out eight payday loans that have left her ?3,000 in debt.

The result? The repayments mean she?ll have no money left over from her welfare cheques to feed her children. Another candidate for the food banks, then.

Now, I realise that not all families in need have been as foolish as Katie ? and that there are thousands who have fallen on hard times through no fault of their own, and who, with the cost of living soaring, are in genuine need. But I also suspect that there are a lot of self-indulgent and irresponsible fools like Katie. ? Read more »

Bugger off bludging foreign ratbags

Iain Duncan Smith the UK work and pensions minister has some stern words for bludging Johnny Foreigner.

The work and pensions secretary vows to protect Britain from ‘exploitation’ by benefit tourists and put those who work hard and pay their taxes first. …

Employment here is growing at the same rate as in Germany, and faster than the EU as a whole. Meanwhile, as unemployment rises in France and Spain, in the UK it has fallen by nearly 100,000 people in the past three months alone ? the biggest drop in over a decade.

For those who are out of work, our dynamic labour market offers a real opportunity. Yet too often in the past, I believe we faced a challenge with our workforce at home. Under the last Labour government, more than half of all new jobs were taken by foreign nationals. Meanwhile, even during the years of growth, we had well over four million people sitting on out-of-work benefits ? too many of them unwilling or unable to take advantage of the job opportunities that were being created.

There is no kindness in a welfare system that traps the individuals and families it is meant to help, nor anything moral in a fundamentally divided nation, one in which one section of society has been left behind. Yet that is the challenge I was confronted with on entering office, after Labour tried to cover up the problem. They left far too many British people on the sidelines, while companies imported labour from abroad. It is one reason why this Government is taking decisive action to reform the welfare state, a process that is now well under way.

We?re already fixing the broken system we inherited from Labour by placing a cap on the amount people can receive in benefits, reforming sickness benefits and increasing the expectations on some people to move into work while restoring the incentive to do so.

We are seeing excellent results. Already, half a million fewer people are on out-of-work benefits since the election. And notably, the latest data shows that of the rise in employment over the past year, over 90 per cent went to UK nationals. ? Read more »

Rodney Hide on benefits

Rodney Hide slays some sacred cows in regard to welfare benefits.

Which, while we are talking about it..Why do we call them benefits? It is certainly no benefit for the poor ever paying taxpayer, nor to the government. I think one way to reduce welfare is to name the payments something nasty…

Anyway Rodney Hide exposes the myths and lies of welfare.

Our welfare state has proved both addictive and dangerous. It survives propped up by propaganda and disinformation.

For example, when Steve Maharey was in charge, he declared, ?The widespread belief that most Domestic Purpose Beneficiaries are teenage mums who deliberately get pregnant to get a benefit is a myth.??He explained, ?The typical DPB sole parent is female, in her mid 30s, with one or two children, who went on to the benefit because of a relationship breakdown?.

And, ?The average duration for a sole parent on the DPB is about three and a half years?.

So that?s okay then. The DPB does not attract teenagers into a benefit trap. It?s mostly for women whose relationships turn sour. These women need temporary assistance to get back on their feet. They aren?t on the benefit for long.? Read more »