Policy Watch July 2018

 

Mā tāu rourou, me tāku rourou ka ora ai te iwi

With your food basket and my food basket the people will thrive

Tēnā koutou and welcome to the latest Policy Watch e-letter highlighting the latest news, research and policy developments relevant to the NZCCSS mission to work for a just and compassionate society in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Winter has arrived and for thousands of families and whānau across New Zealand cold temperatures, high winds, rain and snow brings another layer of stress to people already struggling to afford shelter, food and to stay warm.

However, there is some reprieve this winter for an estimated 384,000 thousand low/middle-income families and whānau with the introduction of the Families Package (1 July). The package (see below for summary) is intended to give an average of $75 a week once the package is fully implemented in 2020. The policy is part of the government’s commitment to make New Zealand the best place to raise children and to and to lift 64,000 children out of poverty. The extent to which the Families Package will achieve this aspiration for all children will take time to understand, but NZCCSS will be actively engaging with members to find out what differences they are seeing in communities.

What the Families Package will cover:

  • Paid parental leave – increase from 18 to 22 weeks and to 26 weeks from July 2020.
  • Winter Energy Payment – an additional $15-20 to beneficiaries and all pensioners during the colder months.
  • Best Start –  $60 a week to all new babies born 1 July for the first year. For the second and third years, payment will continue for middle and low-income families.
  • Reinstatement of the Independent Earner Tax Credit- Income support for low and middle-income earners who do not benefit from Working for Families tax credits.
  • Orphan’s Benefit, Unsupported Child’s Benefit and Foster Care Allowance – increase by $20.31 a week.

Overall, the Families Package has been well received as a good first step. The winter energy payment to all superannuitants regardless of income and wealth has raised debate on universal versus targeted support.  However, 1,337 superannuitants  have already opted out of the payment as of 23 June 2018. Associate Professor Susan St John, Child Poverty Action Group, wants to see rates of payment and threshold levels annually adjusted to reflect price increases and wage growth in the same way as superannuation.

News from the Secretariat

NZCCSS strategic plan update – Late June, Koukourarata Marae provided an idyllic, welcoming and peaceful setting for NZCCSS’ reflection on its strategic direction over the next three year. The upcoming Kete Kupe will provide information on this gathering.

Welfare Expert Advisory Group (WEAG) – Congratulations to Trevor McGlinchey, Executive Officer, NZCCSS who has been appointed to WEAG, Chaired by Cindy Kiro. The Terms of Reference is broad and provides a genuine opportunity to create a welfare system that is fair and just. For more information on WEAG, including the full list of appointees, go to the link here.

Going hungry in New Zealand: it’s not on! – It is hard to understand how people can go hungry in a food producing country but thousands of adults and children go without food and the need for food banks continues to rise. Trevor McGlinchery alongside the Salvation Army Social Policy and Parliamentary Unit, is currently holding conversations on “the need for structural change to ensure New Zealanders don’t go hungry”. The Peter McKenzie Project has provided a seed fund to extend this important conversation. If you want to take part, email NZCCSS at admin@nzccss.org.nz. We look forward to hearing from you!

Child Wellbeing Strategy – NZCCSS Policy Groups have met with the Government’s Child Poverty and Child Wellbeing Units to hear about the process for developing the Child Wellbeing strategy and for NZCCSS members to provide input. Consultation is ongoing and comments from a broad range of stakeholders are being sought.

Collaborative Voices Radio Show – It was time for another on-air catch up last week when Policy Advisor Paul Barber joined Ros Rice from Community Networks Aotearoa for another Collaborative Voices Radio Show 26 June 2018. They talked about using data, with the Social Investment Agency asking for feedback on what social wellbeing means (“Data people are our friends and partners but they are not to be the drivers of this”), as well as reviewing the Positive Ageing Strategy (more information below) and how to make renting better by banning letting fees and the Plan to Fix Renting. If you are in Wellington come to the launch of the Plan To Fix Renting on 11th July.

NZCCSS submissions

It’s been a busy time across the secretariat drafting submissions on behalf of our membership.  Here are links to our most recent submissions.

Mental Health and Addiction InquiryNZCCSS supports a wellbeing model of care with a strong focus on prevention, resilience building, early intervention, adequate funding of community based services that are culturally appropriate and easily accessible.

Supplementary Order paper No.20,22,22 – NZCCSS responded to three Supplementary Order papers prepared by Hon Alfred Ngaro.

Residential Tenancies (Prohibiting Letting Fees) Amendment Bill – NZCCSS supports the Bill as one step in a wider process to improve legislation and regulations relating to renting. To read NZCCSS’ full  analysis and recommendations read the submission here. 

Children in care

Legal rights of whanau with children in care – 70 Māori support workers and lawyers gathered in Hamilton at a workshop to learn about rights of families who come to the attention of Orange Tamariki.

At the annual annual update on Oranga Tamariki to Parliament’s Social Services Committee Children’s Minister Tracey Martin  raised concern about the number of Māori tamariki in state care saying insufficient intensive intervention was the driver, “Intensive intervention can keep children in their homes, if we step in and walk alongside the families in a very intensive way”.  NZCCSS looks forward to a time when no child needs to be in the care of the state.

Work and Income update

Benefit suspensions dropping – Over many years our members have supported people who have had their benefits cancelled or reduced for what can only be described as punitive reasons. At last there is a sign of change at Work and Income starting with a new policy requiring decisions to suspend a benefit to be second checked. This policy change has already seen suspensions drop from over 100 to 80 in a matter of weeks. As is often the case, a great deal of advocacy work sits behind this policy change. Suspending benefits without fully investigating a person’s situation or the impact on children, has caused enormous distress to thousands of people and delivered many into debt. This change of policy provides a glimmer of hope that some empathy and compassion may just be filtering down for on high.

Urgent review of debt recovery programme needed– Following the landmark ruling that bank loans and credit cards do not constitute income, there are calls for Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni to immediately stop debt recovery cases that are before the court. The ruling followed an eight year battle to recover a MSD overpayment of $109, 852 from a single mother who borrowed money from her mother, a finance company and the bank to keep herself and children afloat. Lawyer and advocate Catriona Maclennan sees this as a bigger systemic issues around MSD’s pursuit of money from beneficiaries.  It’s timely the WEAG is reviewing the welfare system.

New Baby welcomed

NZCCSS welcomes the arrival of the PM Jacinda Ardern and Clarke Gayford baby, Neve Te Aroha Ardern Gayford, and wish them health and happiness. Here’s a link to a lovely new song by Adeaze dedicated to their mothers You make me smile.

Among the many messages of congratulations to the Prime Minister, Jess Berentson-Shaw’s opinion piece reminds us the experience of parenthood is very different for those parents overwhelmed by poverty and associated stress, precarious work, cost of heating and housing.

Investment for social wellbeing: out with the old and in with the new

It’s out with the old social investment model and in with social wellbeing. Dorothy Adams, Acting Chief Executive of the Social Investment Agency, is leading this transformation and provides insight into what’s different about the agency’s new mode of operandi in a recent interview with Wallace Chapman. The focus is still on the importance of data and best use of evidence, but the identifiable data is out and a broad range of both soft and hard data is in. Alongside this, the interview touches on research on ‘social housing as social investment’. Check out this Cabinet paper ‘Towards Investing for Social Wellbeing’ for more information of this new direction of travel, and see how you can have your say on investing for social wellbeing by going to the SIA website.

Older people

Positive Ageing Strategy – Seniors Minister Tracey Martin has released a discussion document and opened consultation on a new positive ageing strategy. Check out the SuperSeniors website for full details on the many ways you can communicate your thoughts and ideas.

Royal Commission into Historic Abuse in State CareThe Chair of the Royal Commission, Sir Anand Satyanand, has now reported back to the Minister for Internal Affairs, Tracey Martin, on the Terms of Reference for the Inquiry. This is a critical decision as the scope of the Inquiry sets the parameters for who and who will not be heard. NZCCSS will update members once a decision has been reached.

Upcoming consultation

Consumer Credit Review is underway – The Ministry of Business and Innovation has released a discussion paper on the review of the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003 (CCCFA). Feedback is being sought on (1). issues around consumer credit, and (2). the benefits and costs of potential legislative changes. This is an important consultation looking at measures to stop predatory lending. Too many families are given loans they can’t afford, and are subject to huge penalties and fees that trap them into a debt cycle out of which they can’t escape. Consultation is open until 5pm on Wednesday, 1 August 2018.

Resources

Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga (NPM) conducts research of relevance to Māori and Indigenous communities. Its research and activities are underpinned by the vision Ko te Māori e arataki ana i a Aotearoa ki te ao kei mua: Māori leading New Zealand into the future. Check out this invaluable website of resource here.

What’s coming up

How do you create behaviour change? How do you de-escalate challenging situations?
SPECIAL TRAINING EVENT PRESENTED BY EXPERT PSYCHOLOGIST,
ROSS GILMOUR 
Monday 9 July, 2018 (9.15 am – 4.15 pm), in Christchurch.

Island Island Time with Damon Salesa – What would it mean for New Zealand to act like a Pacific Island nation? Damon Salesa explores this question in an energising public lecture, based on the Michael King Memorial Lecture he delivered to a standing-room-only audience at the Auckland Writers Festival in May.

Saturday 7 July, 2.00–3.00 p.m 
Te Marae, Level 4,
Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand
55 Cable St, Te Aro, Wellington
All welcome, no rsvp needed

Severe trauma and stress One day training workshop  

Solution Focused Workshops With John Henden.

Auckland – Tuesday 11 & Wednesday 12 September 2018 – Naumi Auckland Airport Hotel
Hamilton – Friday, 14 September 2018 – The Western Community Centre
Palmerston North – Monday, 17 September 2018 – Massey University
Wellington – Wednesday 19 & Thursday 20 September 2018 – Venue TBC

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