Posts Tagged ‘social welfare’

Nats’ forced labour

August 12, 2008

About the most interesting thing about the Nats’ benefit policies has been the range of the response on the left, what with National’s swagger about an “unrelenting focus” on getting beneficiaries into work.

Predictably, the government seeks to portray it as a “hoary old beat up on single parents”. And on one level it is.

It is an unashamed appeal to the prejudices of the ‘labour plus’ voters, and those conservatives who are beginning to wonder whether National is adopting so many of Labour’s policies that it risks losing its way. There are an awful lot of NZers in business or work who feel that it’s unfair that some people “get something for nothing”, “don’t have to work for an income like I do”, etc.

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Nats’ sleazy stats

August 12, 2008

The Nats’ are pulling a sleight of hand trick with the statistics around benefit numbers to build a false meme. This would be amusing except that some people have bought the nonsense. I mentioned the current very low unemployment levels the other day in passing and the response was that Labour has “moved people onto the sickness benefit.”

The 11-page policy backgrounder that comes with the National’s policy states:

“Figure 1 shows that the number of people receiving the UB has declined dramatically over the past decade. At the same time, there has been a steady rise in the number of people getting the [sickness (SB)] and, especially, the [invalids benefit (IB)].”

The implication is total bollocks. You don’t have to be a statistician to see that figure 1 (below) shows unemployment beneficiaries (UB) dropping many, many times faster than the SB and IB, in terms of raw numbers. If people have been moved from UB to IB or SB, then they account for only a very, very small proportion of the decrease in UB, at most.

But if you understand that the figures presented are raw figures, unadjusted for population increase, then you’ll note that the increase in SB, in particular is unexceptional given the rate of population increase across the time period (14%). The IB has indeed been rising at a higher rate than the population, but note that it was rising at roughly the same rate under the previous, National-led, government. [Edit: Anita points out below that the IB figure is cumulative, as invalids tend to stay that way, sadly.]

The supposedly left-wing media have reported this crap as news in recent times. Let’s see if they pick up on it this time around. Just don’t bet on it.

[Note: Another post on Nats’ social welfare policy above.]