Socialink: Budget not enough to improve poverty

Max Rashbrooke, Hana Seddon and Alan Johnson. Supplied Photo.

While the Government made some good changes in last week’s Budget, it’s just not enough to make a real difference to child poverty in New Zealand, Tauranga social agencies heard this week.

The Western Bay of Plenty branch of the Child Poverty Action Group, supported by SociaLink, hosted about 35 members of social agencies to hear the national organisation's analysis of the 2022 Budget.

Shining The Light on Child Poverty’s three speakers - Alan Johnson, National Deputy Convenor for CPAG, Hana Seddon, Director of Community Ministries for the Salvation Army and economic inequality commentator Max Rashbrooke - outlined the pros and cons of last week’s Budget.

Max Rashbrooke, senior associate at the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies, says the Government had a mixed record so far. New Zealand had an economy where there had been very little real income increase for the poorest and middle income earners in 40 years.

“The rewards still go to those who are doing well.”

He says the distribution of wealth was even worse than income distribution, with 40,000 New Zealanders owning 25 percent of the country’s wealth, the top 10 percent owning about 70 percent and the poorest - two million adults - two percent of the country’s wealth.

Child poverty rates had fallen since Labour came to power, but there had been an increase in extreme poverty. Nothing had been done about taxation when nearly half of the richest New Zealanders pay less tax than someone on the minimum wage.

“Poverty is about being excluded from things other New Zealanders enjoy.”

Alan Johnson says the recession following Covid was not nearly as severe as expected.

“We bounced back so well it showed what we can achieve if the Government opens the purse strings. We need a radical shakeup of Working for Families.”

He says 45 percent of the total spend on benefits and income support would go to Superannuation, which was not mentioned at all in the Budget.

The public probably think the main spend was on benefits for single parents and the unemployed, but the lion's share was for superannuation, he says. The Budget was pumping money into ‘bandaids’ rather than addressing the causes of poverty.

The amount spent on transitional housing would balloon to $466 million in 2023, when the country was short of 10,000 houses.

“Rather than spending money on motels, we need to spend the money on building houses.”

Hana Seddon says she had grown up in poverty, so knew first-hand the pressure and stress this caused, and she did not want her grandchildren growing up the same way.

“People are doing the best they can do. People don’t want to talk about policy or the law when they are dealing with the day-to-day realities of being poor. When people are given opportunities and have hope I have seen whole families, generations change.

“We can’t keep doing the same stuff. We need to ask people ‘what makes a difference for you?’. The reset after Covid hasn’t reset for some people.”




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5 Comments

Poverty, yeah right.

Posted on 03-06-2022 12:02 | By Slim Shady

I grew up on rabbit stew with suet dumplings. Walked everywhere or caught a bus. We didn’t have a car. No holidays. Just a ball to play with. When I think about it now, dogs today have a better standard of living than we did. But we never considered ourselves to be living in poverty. The goalposts have changed. No doubt there are some living in poverty but you can’t be driving about in cars, looking at your smartphone, on the way to KFC, and complain about poverty. We need to dial it back and instill the notion of responsibility in young people. Nobody has a right to be housed and fed and provided for on the back of somebody else’s hard work. The welfare state has just bred more and more laziness and expectation.

Poverty...

Posted on 01-06-2022 16:07 | By morepork

...is not a word I use very often. When you’ve seen people living in packing cases and watching hopelessly as their children die of starvation, you realize that we must never let that happen here. In a food-producing nation, there is no excuse for any Kiwi Kid (or parent...) to go to bed hungry. So it is ironic that we have people claiming "poverty", while a profligate Government throws money around in every place except where it is needed. They promote the idea that it is OK to spend Other People’s Money (until you run out of it, then you print some more...). Their followers and cronies get well looked after, but anyone who suggests that the population as a whole are not well-served by such policy has to be stifled and suppressed. The only "poverty" I see, is that in the vision of the current Administration.

Yep

Posted on 28-05-2022 08:03 | By Kancho

The people who voted for them based on promises which was mostly spin to get votes. You are right Slim. Huge bureacracy is absorbing all the funding announced . Huge increase in government department staffing in communication ( read spin doctors) to give us puerile advertising. Again re arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic with bandaid payments that don’t even keep up with inflation.

Kancho

Posted on 27-05-2022 19:00 | By Slim Shady

For a Socialist Government they are bang on track. Lots of debt. Wasted money. Huge bureaucracy. Everybody worse off. Booted out.

Absolutely agree

Posted on 27-05-2022 12:19 | By Kancho

For a socialist government they are not doing very well. Another article this morning by Kushlan Sugathapala about comparison with OECD countries and Australia hits the nail on the hesad. Titled The squeezed middle or the squashed poor. Why does NZ take so much tax from the poor. The recent Bandaid really retains the current situation .

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