News

The numbers don't add up, Minister

Child Poverty Action Group has queried the accuracy of the figures being used to justify further welfare reforms which ignore the needs of children. 

Child Poverty Action Group has queried the accuracy of the figures being used to justify further welfare reforms which ignore the needs of children.  CPAG economics spokesperson Dr Susan St John says the figures are highly questionable especially as no comparisons are available.  Also, the government has failed to provide any evidence at all that children are better off as a result of the Future Focus reforms.

Dr St John says figures showing more Domestic Purposes Beneficiaries commenced part-time work as the result of the government’s Future Focus legislation do not stack up.

“The Minister must release the data on which these and other claims are made.

“According to the Minister, 13,000 more DPBs went off the DPB into work. 13,000 more than what?  Than would have otherwise come off the DPB? If so, how can she possibly know this without a comparator group? What’s more, according to her own Ministry’s figures, there were 114,230 Domestic Purposes Beneficiaries in December 2011, up 1,365 from December 2010. Of those DPBs declaring earnings, there was a rise of 671 between December 2010 and December 2011.

“If the 13,000 figure refers to the normal churn of people on and off a benefit, then that just proves that the benefit is providing a temporary means of support for women whose relationships have broken up, or who have left violent domestic situations. This is exactly what it is supposed to do,” said Dr St John.

CPAG also queries the figure that 50% of beneficiaries didn’t require a single hardship grant. This is most likely to reflect changes in Work and Income policies rather than a lessening of the need of low-income families.

“Budgeting agencies and foodbanks continue to report record demand, so it is reasonable to suggest people who are unable to get a hardship grant from Work and Income are going to foodbanks instead.

“New Zealand’s poorest children should not be carrying the burden of tax cuts for the wealthy and bailouts for finance companies. Pretending that not giving out hardship grants is a good thing is cynical and denies the reality of poverty for thousands of children. The number the Minister should be focusing on is how many children get lifted out of poverty as a result of her government’s policies,” said Dr St John.