Saturday, January 19, 2013

Bennett over-egging success of new policy

Further to my last post questioning the drop in sole parents on the DPB, I remain very sceptical about the spin being put on this. Here's why.

Yesterday's NZ Herald headline was:

Bennett trumpets 5000 fewer on DPB 

"The number of sole parents on the domestic purposes benefit dropped by 5000 last year - a drop Social Development Minister Paula Bennett is attributing partly to her new policy requiring sole parents to get jobs when their youngest child turns five...Figures released yesterday showed there were 95,138 sole parents on the DPB at the end of 2012 - down from 100,266 the year before."
Nowhere in the article does it mention that some of the decrease is down to 18 and 19 year-olds being moved onto the Young Parent Payment. I've had that confirmed by a spokesperson from MSD:
The number of sole parents receiving DPB reduced by around 5,000 in 2012; this includes around 1,000 18 and 19-year-olds who transferred to YPP in August.
Bear in mind that for the last quarter no new 18 year-olds could have gone onto the DPB either. Back to the NZ Herald:
More than half of that drop happened in the last three months of the year, after the introduction of Ms Bennett's policy required sole parents to get part-time work when their youngest child turned five and fulltime work for those whose children were older than 14. Ms Bennett said 3221 sole parents had returned to work since that came into force in October.
Now I am going to get quite technical and pedantic here. 5,000 over the year is a net loss. The difference between those who went on and those who went off. So to claim that "more than half of that drop happened in the last three months" is a nonsense.

Typically an average of 13,000 people will leave the DPB each year because they "obtained work". These are the figures for the financial years 2007/08 forward:

Obtained paid work 16,223 14,755 11,706 10,714 12,834

So there is nothing remarkable about 3200 finding work in one quarter.

The numbers of sole parents on the DPB (which excludes carers of the sick and infirm, woman alone and those on the emergency maintenance allowance) for the years 2007-2011:

Domestic Purposes Benefit – Sole Parent 87,601 86,695 93,404 99,284 99,945

A return to 95,000 is a good thing. But to be expected as we moved out of recession.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

DPB numbers dropping?

The Minister of Social Development has just announced that there were 339,095 people on benefits at the end of December 2012. She hasn't released much more by way of detail about individual benefits and MSD don't have the data available at their site yet.

But she does say:

The number of sole parents on the DPB dropped 1.6% over the quarter to 95,138 and 3,221 sole parents went off this benefit into work in that period.
What she isn't saying is that single parents aged 18 now go onto the Young Parent Payment.

This will be accounting for some of the decrease. For instance between the June and September quarters the percentage of those on the DPB aged 18-19 dropped from 2.7 to 1.7%. It's never been that low.

While 3,221 left for work, that's typical. People go off, people go on, year long.

No. I reckon the drop the Minister is claiming as a 'positive' is a sleight of hand. Perhaps not intentional.

But I'll ring the MSD media team and find out where the Young Parent Payment statistics are being recorded and published.

PPTA attack charter schools

No surprises really that the PPTA want education dominated by the state. The following full page advertisement is apparently running in major newspapers today. I wonder how teachers feel about paying for these campaigns?

On the subject of the state monopolising education recall my post from Tuesday which quoted research showing those European countries which had the lowest percentage of young people not in employment, education, or training had dual education systems.

But the PPTA displays their stupidity in other ways too. For instance the first line of their ad:

"Family time, beach time, down time...that's the agenda for most of us right now."

If you are a teacher maybe. Most self-employed tradespeople, farmers, shop-workers, factory workers, health service providers etc etc are back with their noses to the grindstone, if they ever stopped.

I have a lot of time for teachers. Most that have taught my kids have been decent, hard-working, capable, sometimes inspirational people. But their union does their public image no favours.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

No welfare for Kiwis in Australia? So be it

I'm out of step with public opinion on this one. Australia has every right to its political autonomy. If the government doesn't want to pay welfare and accord other privileges to New Zealanders who move there, that's their call. You can out up all the arguments the NZ Herald is making about paying tax, being productive etc. But the current rules have been in place since 2001. People heading over there should be well aware that they will need to support themselves through work or savings. It's just a damn shame that people prepared to do this are lost to New Zealand.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Herald wrong about NZ's youth unemployment

Writing in the NZ Herald about youth unemployment in NZ, calling for the PM to make it his priority, Fran O'Sullivan said this:
In the European Union, one in five young people under 25 who is willing to work can't get a job. That's Europe's problem, but in fact the ratio is much higher in New Zealand.

What is that claim based on?

Tables here show that in September 2012 of the 15-24 age group, officially unemployed are 65,200 out of a labour force of 376,500 - 17.3 percent.

Data from Eurostat :
In November 2012, 5.799 million young persons (under 25) were unemployed in the EU27, of whom 3.733 million were in the euro area. Compared with November 2011, youth unemployment rose by 329 000 in the EU27 and by
420 000 in the euro area. In November 2012, the youth unemployment rate was 23.7% in the EU27 and 24.4% in the  euro  area,  compared  with  22.2%  and  21.6%  respectively  in  November  2011.  In  November  2012  the  lowest
rates were observed in Germany (8.1%), Austria (9.0%) and the Netherlands (9.7%), and the highest in Greece (57.6% in September 2012) and Spain (56.5%).

The unemployment rate for under 25 year-olds in EU27 in November 2012 was 23.7 percent compared to New Zealand's 17.3 percent. The ratio is not "much higher" here. In fact it is substantially lower.

Could the claim refer to the other measure of youth inactivity - the NEET (not in employment, education or training) rate?

The European Union NEET rate in July 2012 was 12.9 percent. In NZ in September 2012 it was 13.4 percent. Still no basis.

Anyway, this is interesting.

Scanning a European  report about NEETs  I came across this description of those countries with the least problem:

This cluster groups together continental and Nordic countries and includes Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK. This is a mix of countries that have pursued flexicurity policies, neo-liberal countries and countries with a dual educational system. With the exception of the UK, all these countries are characterised by a low NEET rate. 
(Flexicurity  definition - "It combines flexible hiring and firing with a generous social safety net and an extensive system of activation policies")

So the government's pursuing more flexible employment laws, putting more stringent work-testing on benefits and avoiding monopoly public education look like the right approach.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Truth column January 3

The Truth website is still being updated.

Here's my first column for 2013. A look at the year ahead in politics:

Ten things that might happen in 2013

1/ Labour MP Maryan Street's bill to legalise voluntary euthanasia gets pulled from the ballot triggering a scorching debate about one person's right to impose their religious beliefs on another. If you thought the smacking and prostitution debates were hot, to quote a famous lyric, "you ain't seen nothing yet".

2/ ACT doubles its parliamentary representation by making Brendan Horan its third leader in as many years.

3/ The mercurial John Tamihere - nicknamed "flip-flop" by his mate Willie Jackson -  ditches Labour for National announcing he'll  challenge Paula Bennett's nomination for Waitakere in 2014 (much less work than actually trying to win the seat as a Labour candidate.)

4/ Russell Norman escalates his demands on prospective coalition partner Labour, from Finance Minister to Prime Minister.

5/ Recently resigned shock-jock Michael Laws founds a new party and calls it Conservative Laws or CLAWS.

6/ Prime Minister John Key continues to say whatever comes into his head, alienating or endearing in equal numbers. Opposition leader, David Shearer continues to over-think whatever he says neither alienating nor endearing anybody.

7/ Green co-leader Metiria Turei is once more observed abusing her political position by campaigning in primary schools.

8/ Tariana 'should I stay or should I go' Turia holds a hui to get a better answer.

9/ The 'expert' group consulting on a constitutional review publishes recommendations that have as much impact as every other powwow required under a government support party agreement.

10/ Justice Minister, Judith Collins hands David Bain a $1.3 million compensation payment - along with an invoice for board and keep provided in error: 13 years @ 100,000 per annum.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Children's Commissioner ignores context

The Children's Commissioner has started the year off with another condemnation of New Zealand's child poverty statistics:
Dr Wills is incredulous as he explains that no other OECD country had the same rise in child poverty or inequality in the 1990s.

Measured by the Gini coefficient one other country did have the same rise in inequality - Sweden.

And many other countries weren't far behind.

Those countries that didn't experience inequality growth - where income became more evenly distributed - were....

...France, Greece, Ireland, Spain  and Turkey. All countries with economies that are in trouble.