Saturday, December 7, 2013

Does Paula Bennett Really Care About Kids?


Paula Bennett has been very stubborn regarding calls to measure child poverty. She used to claim they are a Government that does things rather than just measuring things, but she has been asked so often that she now states that they use multiple measurements for poverty. When questioned about what those measurements are and the progress against them, Bennett refuses to give a straight answer.

Regarding a child poverty strategy, the Government obviously has none and resorts to listing the money spent on immunisation, insulating homes and dealing with child abuse. While all the initiatives are useful they hardly constitute a strategy and, in the case of the home insulation scheme, it still hasn't had an impact on the cheaper rental housing that most poor families live in. Obviously most initiatives are just addressing the symptoms of poverty and the real causes are being ignored.

The Government now appears to be alone in thinking that they are being effective in addressing child poverty, with a continual stream of NGOs and authorities exposing failure:
  • An expert group set up by the Children's Commissioner expressed concern that the Government has only partly addressed 23 of the 78 recommendations from their landmark report on the issue. The co-chair Professor Jonathan Boston described the Government's efforts as "at best I would call it 'modest'."
  • The Children's Commissioner decided to publish his own stocktake of child poverty after the Government refused to. It shows hospital admissions linked to poverty are continuing to rise with tens of thousands being admitted every year with respiratory and infectious diseases associated with living in damp, overcrowded homes. 1 in 4 children are 'mired' in poverty and 1 in 6 children are going without the basic necessities like a bed or having enough food. Those who have a single parent relying on a benefit are more likely to be worse off, but 2 out of 5 are living in working families.  
  • The latest PISA assessment has New Zealand getting the worst education rankings since the assessment began with a substantial decline under this Government. Inequality and poverty are seen as the main contributing factors and even the National Standards data, flawed that they are, revealed that the decile of a school largely determined the levels of achievement. Under National, New Zealand has one of the fastest growth rates of inequality in the OECD
  • A UNICEF New Zealand report has found that New Zealand has some way to go to meet its obligations under the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child that we signed 20 years ago. The report called 'Kids Missing Out - time to make progress on children" identified that 270,000 children are having to survive without adequate income or housing. When Jan Logie questioned the lack of Government priority given to children's rights, Bennett replied, "I do not agree that it is a lower priority." She also dismissed the concerns of the Child Commissoner, UNICEF and the Child Poverty Action Group, "They can have any perspective they like, that's their right, they're independent, that's the beauty of living in a democracy."
  • While Paula Bennett had been claiming child abuse was dropping, it turns out that the Ministry of Social Development had been under-reporting and there is actually an increase in levels of abuse.  The number of children being neglected by their caregivers has actually soared and is 60% higher than official reports.
Levels of child abuse are soaring, inequality is growing at a faster rate than most OECD countries and our ranking in educational achievement has plummeted. The Government refuses to measure child poverty, has no strategy to address it and has no meaningful way of reporting on progress. While Paula Bennett may disagree with with all the criticisms of her Government's performance she has no reliable evidence to prove otherwise. 

7 comments:

Shane Pleasance said...

"The government is not caring and compassionate. It cannot replace families and community. The welfare state is unsustainable economically, socially and morally."

Pretty sure I read that somewhere.

bsprout said...

Oh dear, Shane, you aren't suggesting we withdraw government support completely?

Countries that score best in six different measures for child health are Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Sweden. All of these countries have comprehensive state support. http://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/rc7_eng.pdf

While I agree that community and families are highly important in supporting children it is still difficult for caring families to survive on incomes beneath the living wage and having to exist in substandard housing.

Shane Pleasance said...

What do you suggest is the solution to your apparent problem?

bsprout said...

Establish a living wage to lift the working poor out of poverty, a greater focus on the $6 billion dollars of tax fraud rather than mainly focussing on benefit fraud which is a small fraction of fraud, a warrant of fitness for rental housing (it is illegal to rent a car without a warrant but fine to rent a substandard house), give more status and support for those who wish to stay at home to look after their children up to school age, make schools service hubs where nurses and social workers are accessible and can support struggling children and families, provide support that helps families to be self sufficient, use urban planning to encourage stronger communities….
What would you do Shane?

EmmittBrownBTTF1 said...

While these out comes are appalling to many, Behind closed doors Paula's reaction is a little different. After dutifully making sure the heavy Rimu doors are firmly closed she spins around throws both fists in the air and mutely yells "RESULT!" before walking to her desk with a little hop in her step secure in the knowledge that she has progressed this nation toward a feudal fascist Utopia and a greater hope of taking archery lessons with beneficiaries as targets.

There is something not right with this woman, if that is what she is. She seems like an advert for the "reptilians are hijacking government hypothesis". Next she be drug test us all, but where is her drug test?

bsprout said...

EmmittBrownBTTF1, every time this Government is faced with an embarrassing crisis, Paula is wheeled out to provide a distraction with yet another beneficiary bashing initiative. She is one callous lady.

Shane Pleasance said...

"Establish a living wage to lift the working poor out of poverty"

Raise the minimum wage?


"...a greater focus on the $6 billion dollars of tax fraud rather than mainly focussing on benefit fraud which is a small fraction of fraud"

Increasing the tax take?


"...a warrant of fitness for rental housing (it is illegal to rent a car without a warrant but fine to rent a substandard house)"

You would set standards for rental homes?


"...give more status and support for those who wish to stay at home to look after their children up to school age"

Status and support? What does that mean?


"...make schools service hubs where nurses and social workers are accessible and can support struggling children and families"

Health care and social workers in schools? What would they do?


"...provide support that helps families to be self sufficient"

Like what?


"...use urban planning to encourage stronger communities…."

How would you do that?


I have already told you that the government should NEVER be given a mandate to use its monopolistic force on peaceful people.
But this is your blog, and I am interested in the operationalisation of your strategy.