Saturday, July 25, 2015

Again, Left criticise govt but Labour was worse

Again, the Left is carping but the data under Labour was worse (from their viewpoint - not mine).

The NZ  Council of Christian Social Services collects a large amount of data and uses it to criticize the government.
What happens to people declined support? A total of 35,128 applications for ‘working age benefits’ were declined for the period July 2013 to September 2014. Collectively, this represents a comparatively large number of people who walked away from a Work and Income Office without the support they requested. 

This data isn't routinely published but I have some comparative figures from my own OIA requests. Note the NZCCS data is for 14.5 months - mine is for 12 months.

 Under a Labour government the number of sole parents declined a benefit was higher.

Labour creates a policy and then complains when it's implemented

From a CPAG paper about benefit sanctions:

Sanctions are not a new addition to the welfare legislation. They were part of Labour’s reforms to the Domestic Purposes Benefit (DPB) in 2002, although at a time when the economy was adding jobs they attracted little attention. 

Yesterday Carmel Sepuloni issued a press release:

“Figures, obtained through Parliamentary questions show 3000 more sanctions, affecting parents of children, were issued in 2014/15 than in the previous year. Sole parents fared the worst
“Being sanctioned is another way of saying ‘financially penalised’.
“Some of these families have sick or disabled children, some have just come out of abusive relationships and some have been left high and dry to look after children on their own.
“All of these parents have limited resources and are just trying to do the best that they can with very little constructive support from this government. Reducing their incomes even further can make it impossible.
In Labour's last year in government 23,000 sanctions were applied to work-tested benefits, including those with dependent children. Sanctions on the DPB were lower only because Labour didn't work-test that benefit. Sanctions could still be applied to the few thousand who had a Personal Development Employment Plan (PDEP).

In anticipation of requiring sole parents to be available for work,  National's Future Focus reforms 2010 limited the sanction for anyone with dependent children to only 50% of their benefit.

Back to Carmel Sepuloni:
“The truth is this government’s punitive approach is leading to entrenched poverty, not more jobs, and is hurting our children.”

The employment of sole parents is gradually improving,

As is child poverty,

Image result for nz child poverty rate

But if facts were allowed to get in the way, Labour would have little to moan about (I think there's an unintended pun in there somewhere.)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Greens demand all rights and no responsibility

Yesterday the legislation necessary to extend youth service provision and attendant obligations was passed. The Greens put up the only opposition. From the NZ Herald

"Green Party MP Eugenie Sage said the party opposed the bill because of the paternalistic approach it took.
"We also have quite serious concerns about forcing single young people up to the age of 20 into a model with quite onerous accountability, based on the state's identification of them as at-risk young people."
There was a risk of arbitrary and unfair decision-making, Ms Sage said, and could lead to young people feeling stigmatised and resentful.
"This is a huge infringement on human rights by having the state determine which category you fall into, and therefore which services you should have access to."
The whole welfare state concept is paternalism writ large.

Attempts to reduce reliance on welfare - the youth service is achieving this - reduce paternalism.

Parents are paternalistic. They exercise authority over the individual. Over time they reduce their paternalism and the child assumes increasing amounts of self-responsibility. (Though I do note that if there is a parent letting their child run riot it's most likely to be a Green type preaching freedom of expression, so perhaps the demand that teenagers should get taxpayer money without obligations is at least consistent.)

As for feeling 'stigmatised and resentful', that's just the disincentive some people need.

And the last objection is utter BS.  How does WINZ decide which beneficiary requires employment help and which needs drug rehab without "infringing on human rights"? How does the public health system  diagnose and allocate treatment without "infringing on human rights"?

The Greens need to grow up.

Anyway, thumbs up to the other opposition parties that could see the sense in passing this legislation.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Auckland Asian population

For no other reason than it is topical and it interests me, here is a breakdown of the Asian Auckland population at last census.

And this link takes you to a graphic that automatically refreshes by each census to show the Asian population density growth across Auckland. Watch it for a few seconds to get the feel of it. Unfortunately it only traverses 1996 to 2006. The screen probably couldn't have accommodated the next change.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

MSD CE travel expenses

Latest MSD Chief Executive travel expenses have just been released.

I've charted them.

The year 2011-12 is missing because Peter Hughes finished and Brendan Boyle took over.

There is a clear trend though


I don't have time now to compare this to other CEs of government departments. But there is someone who can.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Are they connected?

Things I've read this morning that made me think.

Colin James writes about the mood at the forthcoming National Conference. Excerpt:

Throw in Bill English’s diversification of how the state does its business, which gives National more of a look than Labour as the party generating modern policy in a changing world. Delegates can celebrate the smaller state they yearn for and moralise about and also feel the cabinet has innovative energy.

Here's a picture of that "small state" by the way. You can probably chuck on another 4% of GDP for local government spending.

Brookings lists ten economic facts about Cuba such as

7. The average age of the Cuban population will increase from 54.7 today to 67.7 in 2025.

 Gulp. For context, NZ's median age is around 37.


I wonder if the two things are connected?

Perhaps the percentage of GDP a govt commands predicts the average age of the population!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Sepuloni's spurious claim

This month the New Zealand Christian Council of Social Services (NZCCSS) Vulnerability Report featured the following table:

These benefit cancellations relate only to people with dependent children.

There were 59,960 benefit cancellations as per dates.

We should remove those who "transferred to another benefit" as they are still on welfare.

That leaves 47,485 cancellations.

26,217 obtained work.

That's 55% - fairly close to the CTU figure of 46% (which related to all beneficiaries - not just parents).

And it's much higher than Sepuloni's figure of 20%.

Just 8,682 - 18% -  left for 'other' or unexplained reasons (which could include exit to study which the CTU put at 11% for the whole beneficiary population).

OK, the data isn't brand spanking new. But it's fairly recent. And at the rate MSD releases data these days, this table is relatively up-to-date.

There is no hidden conspiracy of people being thrown off benefits to struggle on the streets.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Union says "half": Labour says "one in five" - who's fibbing?

Last week I blogged about this CTU research from Bill Rosenberg

Only half of people get jobs when leaving a benefit

“New data obtained by the CTU shows that less than half of people who come off a benefit are known to have obtained work,” says CTU economist Bill Rosenberg. “In 2014, MSD records show only 46% obtained work. We therefore cannot assume that falling benefit numbers means people coming off benefits found work.” The data was released to the CTU last month by the Ministry of Social Development under an Official Information request.

“Even adding on the 11% going into full time study means that as many as two out of five people leaving benefits aren’t going into work or study,” says Rosenberg.

The percentages in the past are comparable.

If we ignore transfers to other benefits or Super (I included them in earlier calculations) the percentages of working age people who left a benefit for work were

2006/07 48%
2005/06 48%
2004/05 50%
2003/04 48%
2002/03 48%

On Friday, after June benefit numbers were released, both Labour and the Greens joined the clamour. Labour says it has no data of its own. Carmel Sepuloni says the government is holding it back.

Come on Tolley, show us the jobs
The Social Development Minister has once again failed to provide evidence supporting the Government’s claims a fall in benefit numbers is due to beneficiaries finding work, Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni says. “Anne Tolley’s today touting the fact there’s been a 2.8 per cent drop in the number of people on benefits in the past year. “What she conveniently fails to mention is the reasons for why these people have come off the benefit. “Recent data showed only about 20 per cent of those who are no longer on their benefit went into work. On top of this, the Government considers just a few hours employment as moving into work.
And the Greens are claiming 

Benefit numbers no reason to celebrate
The latest figures from the Government about getting people off benefits don’t translate into more jobs for New Zealanders, the Green Party says.
Benefit numbers from the Government show that although fewer people are receiving welfare, the number of cancelled benefits as a result of “Obtained Work” has also dropped.
“National needs to show their heavy-handed sanction-based approach to welfare is actually getting more people off benefits and into work. The numbers suggest it is not.” Green Party Social Development spokesperson Jan Logie said today.
“These figures show that two out of five people who are coming off benefits are going into work or study. The Government has no idea what is happening to three out of five people who are coming off benefits.

I'd trust Bill Rosenberg over Carmel Sepuloni but even he hasn't released the full information. For instance how many people left the benefit because they found a partner, or left the country, went to prison  or even passed away?

What I want to know is why doesn't the government just release the data?

It was regularly released in the past in the annual statistical analysis which seems to have fallen by the wayside. On the face of it, if the CTU data is correct, this government's performance is possibly better than Labour's; probably on par.

Over the years it has become apparent that many statistics  describing behaviour in and around benefits are quite static.