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Guest Post: The calibre of current leadership

Child poverty stats are a joke.


If adults get collectively poorer, children get richer.


Never has this been better illustrated than by a just-announced Stats NZ cock-up.


Treasury, "...identified several respondents incorrectly reporting the superannuation payments they received, resulting in double counting their income from superannuation, which has also been resolved in this corrected release.


The corrections resulted in a change to the median income for the year ended June 2020, which is used to provide the thresholds for child poverty reporting. The median equivalised disposable household income for the year ended June 2020 before housing costs are deducted reduced from $42,486 to $41,472. After housing costs are deducted, it reduced from $32,579 to $31,717."


Consequently fewer children fall below the recalibrated threshold. Fewer children are in poverty. But nothing materially changes for those children.


Here's the Children's Commissioner on the same subject:


“A different number behind a decimal point doesn’t change things for the thousands of tamariki and whanau doing it tough. Children who are growing up in a motel, or whose families are struggling to pay for the basics, still need big bold changes to unlock opportunities to live their best lives."


Correct.


But then he plunges headlong down the leftist rabbit hole:


“Government efforts to target poverty reduction, improve incomes through the families’ package, expand the school lunch programme and peg benefits to wages have created the strongest foundations for making progress on poverty in decades.


“Poverty and hardship rates, particularly among Māori, Pacific and disabled children are still unacceptably high.


“We want to see benefits raised in line with the recommendations of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group, and a major shift in the availability of social and affordable housing for whānau."


So his solution is greater dependence on the state.


But bigger benefits means more children growing up on benefits.


There is so much documented evidence, here and internationally, that shows benefit dependence - especially long-term - is detrimental to children's outcomes.


Benefits erode family cohesion and they discourage work.


I had high hopes for Andrew Becroft, who back in relatively sane times was outspoken about the young people who appeared before him in the Youth Court. He identified an absence of fathers as the most common factor in their troubled backgrounds. If he hadn't connected that to the state's encouragement of single parent families through the DPB then he must be wilfully blind.


Perhap he is. As Children's Commissoner he is now actively calling for more of the same medicine despite known adverse side effects outweighing any advantage.


Lindsay Mitchell blogs here

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