Tuesday, July 29, 2014

NZ can do better

Child poverty is an issue in NZ but like most issues to do with children it is likely to slip under the political radar as we adults head to an election worried about dirty rivers, house prices, economic stability and world peace.

Obviously our 'adult' priorities are deeply connected to child poverty but there is a specific issue being worked on by the Diocese of Christchurch's Social Justice Unit, the issue of whether we might have a national (i.e. cross-party) strategy on reducing if not eliminating child poverty.

They have produced a neat video making a great point in the campaign here. (All the adults are friends of mine but will they remember me when they are famous in Hollywood?)

Please consider signing the petition which is part of the page the link takes you to!


Anonymous said...

I certainly do not want any child in New Zealand going without, but I struggle with the definition of "poverty" being used by the campaigners.

Th Household Incomes Report on which all this is based defines poverty as a family with 2 parents and 2 children as having $868 per week in the hand , after tax etc.

or the family of 2 parents and 4 children who are "in poverty" if they get they get less than $1,000 per week in the hand .

Is that what you think is POVERTY? REALLY!?!?!

Once they come up with a sensible definition that focuses attention on where real harm is being done, THEN I will happily sign that petition.


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Mary
I certainly support asking the question you ask ... but I also know that what is left in the hand does not go far these days if (say) $1000 equals $500 after rent is paid, then $400 after power in the middle of winter is paid, then ... well, you get my drift!

Anonymous said...

... a $400 power bill PER WEEK really??? Are you serious???

It's reminds me of the living wage stuff which when I read it had the assumption thatpeople are "deprived" if they don't have an overseas holiday every few years!!!

The tragedy is that these people might get their way, and the pension (all of $388 per week) gets cut to pay for it all. Sorry I can't bring myself to be so cruel.

Anonymous said...

I wondered about your $500 per week rent so had a look in Christchurch and the first place I clicked on was a four bedroom newly redecorated house in Merivale (which looks like a nice area and pretty central but I don't know Christchurch).


Is that your defintion of how people live in Poverty?


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Mary
I didn't say a $400 pw power bill in winter but a $100 pw bill: $1000 less $500 rent = $500. $500 less $100 = $400. Then the groceries, petrol, repairs and maintenance, sports and school costs, clothing, insurances need paying out of the remaining $400. That would be tight (in my view ... I have four children ... we were once trying to feed and house all four in a free clergy house with one clergy income and the appropriate family support and were always in debt ... no one went hungry but we didn't have Sky, we mostly holidayed via provision of relatives, there were no overseas trips, the cars were old (and cost to repair!) ... I wouldn't say we were poor then, but it gave me sympathy for those less well off, which was the majority of NZ families.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Mary
At first sight that is a good rent for a good house (and, I agree, it is in a nice area). But on closer inspection I note that it is a three bedroom plus sunroom minus garage house: could be tricky for a family with two children who might like at least a single garage to store goods, toys, bikes in (if not a care, kept out of the frosts).

In other words, my estimate for a family home for two parents/two children with reasonable storage in a good(ish) area remains at the $500 mark but acknowledge that one could find lower with (a) searching (b) not many others spotting the same bargain!

Jean said...

Hi Mary

Have to agree with Peter on this one:
Take $868

Having lived in Welliington you would be lucky to get any half decent house for rental of say:
$100 Power
$45 Phone
$30 Bus to work for one person ($60 if 2)
$35 Half a tank of petrol
$200 Groceries

That leaves about $50 of disposable family income per week, and I was being a little under generous with the petrol allowance. Without taking into account:
Car warrant and registration and insurance
Contents insurance
Clothing for everyone
Medical bills and prescriptions (Doctor and Dentist)
School fees/camps/books/uniforms

I acknowledge there are variations of what living in 'poverty' constitutes. But if the made up family above were to scrape by debt free they would have to avoid being sick, needing fillings, go without birthday and christmas presents, travelling of any kind, movies/entertainment etc, cell-phones, hair cuts, etc etc...

Blessings Jean

P.S. No arguments from me here to cut the pension rates or robbing Peter to pay Paul

Anonymous said...

I don’t think that child poverty is so much about how much money comes in each week as it is about who the adults are in the family unit – is there a responsible dad who knows how to be a grown up? Does mum have good life skills? Do any of the adults know how to budget / shop for bargains / grow veges / cook cheap nutritious meals?

My husband and I raised a family of three kids on less than the average wage, and I grew up in a home where my dad worked in a factory and my mum cleaned other people’s houses. We have never been poor, just really careful. We have never, ever been in debt.

If we are looking at ‘$868 per week in the hand for a family of 2 kids + 2 adults’ as a definition of poverty, then I would have to agree with Mary – this isn't helpful; in fact, it trivialises the real poverty which is sucking the life out of families and communities in NZ.

Having $100 a week to spend on power, is not a definition of poverty. We lived in Christchurch for several years – through the earthquakes and aftershock period, we had 5 adults living in a modest house and we never spent anything like $100 per week on power.

Susannah Sarau.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Susannah
I agree with the danger of trivialising poverty if we get the 'measurements' wrong.
On power in Chch, reviewing our own power bills (for a household of three), perhaps $80 p.w. for winter would be better. Even better would be a weekly average for the whole year: $50 per week ...?

Father Ron Smith said...

Poverty is, I suppose a situation relative to one's surrounding culture. I was brought up in a family with ten children, existing on one humble weekly wage. We quite often went hungry and seldom wore new clothes - certainly no undergarments - and holes in our shoes. We lived in a house with our grandparents and other near relatives, with several children in one bed. But we were more or less healthy and survived! No money in our house for 'further education'. Oh yes, and there was a war going on with bombs falling!

We had parents who struggled to bring us up in an environment of real poverty. Now, how does that compare with what we call poverty in New Zealand today, I wonder?

And then, of course, there is the endemic poverty in Africa & Asia!