Saturday, May 18, 2013

Wall sticking her neck out

Labour MP, Louisa Wall isn't going to be making herself popular with Ngai Tahu and other operators of so-called charities.

I blogged about the Shotover tax-free status 6 years ago here.

Just as charitable status for the purpose of exempting donations should be tested, so should straight out tax exemptions for organisations that  look more like businesses than charities.

We all pay too much tax because we have a too-big government. Taxes should be lower, flatter and fairer. Exemptions without obligation don't fit the last criteria.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The budget and welfare-related matters

The government is concerned about the growing student allowance bill so have restricted allowances for over 40s (from memory) to 120 weeks and made over 65s ineligible.

Can't see this saving much as less than 1 percent are over 65 (how come you can get a student allowance on Super but not if you are on any other benefit?)

91 percent of student allowance recipients are under 40 and nothing changes for them.

Next, state housing reviews to ensure people move on when their circumstances change, will be shifted into the realm of MSD. Work and Income probably know more about the circumstances of state house tenants than the landlord and are best placed to assess their needs.

Also, non-government social housing will now receive income-related rent subsidies. Unclear from the speech whether this applies to council-owned housing (if it doesn't already).

The child-related measures seemed confined to already announced extra funding for fighting rheumatic fever and extending house insulation to a further 49,000 low income homes.  No food in schools mention but more funding for mentoring NCEA level 2 students.

And more funding for budgeting services.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Truth column May 9-15

My Truth column May 9-15

Parliament resumed this week.  Why do MPs get school holidays off anyway?  Other working parents have to pay for child care or farm their offspring out to family, though I reckon quite a few break that absurd law that says a child under 14 can’t be home alone. But it wouldn’t do for an MP to break the law.  And if anyone should have to live by some of the claptrap that comes out of Parliament, it should be the claptrap creators.

My youngest went to school in the city from 11, footing it unaccompanied on city streets daily.  Am I expected to believe he’s safer there than at home?  A flying squad could swoop on thousands of homes during the school breaks and find under-age children fending for themselves. Good thing too, learning to take responsibility for themselves. I can’t fathom a law that says developing initiative and becoming independent is a bad thing.

Monday, May 13, 2013

No gains in learning or behaviour for children fed breakfast in school

Thanks to a reader who sent me a link to a presentation about evaluation research into the programme that already exists to feed children in schools:

  Programme led to a significant decrease in
•  No effect on other outcomes measured
(attendance, learning, behaviour, food
•  Participation in programme less than expected
– ranged from 5-79% but on average students
attended ~30% of the time (dilution effect)
•  Rather than increasing breakfast consumption
overall many children who previously ate
breakfast at home appeared to swap location
(substitution effect)

So again I'm left asking the same question (spurred by a different reason) as yesterday. Why a 'Feed the kids' bill now?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

'Feed the kids' bill starts with a lie

Hone Harawira's bill, Education (Breakfast and Lunch Programmes in School) Amendment Bill, starts with a lie. From the Explanatory note:
"Growing levels of poverty in New Zealand have resulted in too many parents being unable to afford to provide their children with breakfast before school and/or lunch at school, or being unable to afford to provide their children with sufficiently nutritious meals before and during school."
 The latest data available shows that levels of child poverty are declining:

The shaded area shows that the percentage of children living in households with income below 60 percent of the median after-housing costs household income (referenced to 2007) has fallen from 37 percent in 2001 to 21 percent in 2011.

Poverty is though measured in various ways. One is to look at non-monetary indicators of hardship. On that measure children are experiencing increased hardship.

However the report says:

"... it is noted that income poverty rates for children remained much the same from 2009 to 2011, yet here material hardship rates are reported as rising.  One of the main reasons for this difference of trend is that families with children with family incomes above the poverty line reported increased hardship, thus increasing measured hardship irrespective of what the income poverty trend was."

From this I understand that increasing material hardship does not relate to the poorest children, presumably those in decile 1 and 2 schools - the target of the bill.

    " The longer-run findings on child poverty reflect the fact that AHC incomes in 2011 for low-income households were around the same as they were in the early 1980s in real terms, but that relative to the median the incomes of lower-income households with children had fallen away (ie higher inequality in 2011 than in the mid 1980s)."

So I keep coming back to the question, why now? Why have we reached a point where children need to be fed breakfast and lunch in schools when they haven't in the past, during times of greater or similar poverty and hardship?