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Dr Muriel Newman

Dr Muriel Newman

Labour’s Dependency Trap


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Dr Ron Haskins,a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute and former White House Presidential Advisor on welfare reform, has a long association with welfare policy research and development, including the most effective ways of reducing child poverty.

Through modelling and analysis, he has concluded, “Increasing work rates had by far the biggest impact in reducing poverty. In many similar analyses using different approaches and data from different years, all our modelling work showed that the most effective way to reduce poverty is to increase work rates.”

The rationale is not purely economic: “Work is more than just a means of income generation. Work also provides adults and their families with a time structure, a source of status and identity, a means of participating in a collective purpose, and opportunity for social engagement outside family life. A host of studies have connected joblessness to increased risk of family destabilization, suicide, alcohol abuse, and disease incidence, as well as reduced lifespan. Several large reviews of research conclude that unemployment not only reduces physical but also psychological well-being.”

Findings like this underpin successful welfare programmes around the world. The only effective way to reduce child poverty is to ensure parents are in work, not on welfare. Policies that make welfare attractive risk deepening the dependency trap.

Dependency traps are created when governments raise the value of welfare payments to levels that are so close to the returns from wages that there is little incentive for beneficiaries to find work – unless they are compelled to do so.

New Zealand used to have a relatively strong work testing requirement for able-bodied beneficiaries. It was part of the reason for the decline in welfare numbers after National overhauled the system in 2012.

The Ardern Government, however, removed the Ministry of Social Development’s emphasis on work, requiring them instead to focus on ensuring beneficiaries receive their full entitlements – as explained in their Annual Report: “The increase in demand for financial assistance this year has impacted on the time our case managers can spend with clients on proactive employment-focused case management: only 20 percent of engagements with clients in June 2019 had an employment focus, the lowest proportion since 2014.”

As a result, by the end of December 2019 benefit number had increased to 314,408 – 25,000 more than when Labour took office. With the country facing a serious shortage of workers over the last two years, there had never been a better time to place people into work. Logically, benefit numbers should have been decreasing not increasing, raising concerns that Labour’s soft-on-welfare policies are ensnaring a new generation in the dependency trap.

With long term benefit dependency identified as a key risk factor for children, the situation is increasingly dangerous: 206,395 children aged 18 years and under now live in benefit dependent homes –  an increase of 12,000 since Labour became the Government.

Children who spend 80 percent or more of their first two years on a benefit are 38 times more likely than those with no benefit history to be abused. Nearly three-quarters of all beneficiaries aged under 25 had a parent on a benefit while they were a child.

With babies born to mothers on welfare especially at risk, there are concerns that increasing the value of benefits creates an incentive for such women to have more children.

National’s Welfare Working Group, established in 2010 to identify ways to reduce long-term welfare dependency, had addressed this issue in their reform proposals. They outlined policies that were being used in other countries to prevent beneficiaries from having children to gain more money and avoid having to work – namely capping the benefit at the number of children a woman has when she enters the system: “Government should consider whether further financial disincentives are necessary, including that parents not qualify for any additional financial assistance through the welfare system for any additional children born whilst in receipt of welfare, other than access to emergency assistance.”

Unfortunately National did not adopt the recommendation.

Labour, on the other hand, has created an incentive for women on welfare to have more children through their Best Start ‘baby bonus’ payment of $60 a week for newborns, which continues until the child is three. The effect is obvious: while the number of babies born to beneficiary parents remained relatively stable at around 4,800 between 2006 and 2010, under Labour, the numbers have escalated to almost 6,200 in 2019. 

Welfare researcher Lindsay Mitchell says this represents one in ten babies born last year – and one in five Maori babies. She explains, “Having more babies when unable to independently provide for existing children entrenches long-term dependency. Children on a benefit from birth are more likely to experience abuse and neglect, material hardship, poorer health and educational outcomes, and contact with the justice system.”

The fact that one in five Maori babies are being born into dependency is shameful. It is a social time bomb – a critical policy failure that must be addressed to ensure more babies are not harmed.

Almost every change Labour has made to welfare is deepening the dependency trap.

Once elected they began reducing welfare sanctions, directing MSD to prioritise additional financial assistance for beneficiaries – including Special Needs Grants, Emergency Housing Grants, and Temporary Additional Support for on-going hardship – instead of helping them find work.

Their 2018 Budget introduced the $60 a week ‘Best Start’ baby payment, along with increases to a range of auxiliary grants including Family Tax Credits and the Accommodation Supplement.

Labour’s 2019 ‘Wellbeing Budget’ scrapped the sanction on sole parents who refuse to name the father of their child – a penalty that had been increased by Helen Clark’s Labour Government to encourage compliance with child support obligations.

MSD estimates that removing the weekly penalty of $28 a child will cost taxpayers more than $100 million over four years, warning the cost could be “considerably” higher if the change triggers an overall reduction in child support compliance.

The Government also announced that from 1 April 2020, main benefits will be indexed to average wage increases, instead of the Consumers Price Index. In this case, a 3.09 percent increase will lift sole parent benefits by $10.48 a week, rather than $5.64 under the CPI rate of 1.66 percent. By 2024, the additional cost is estimated to be in excess of $320 million – and rising.   

While Jacinda Ardern boasts that hers is the first Government in New Zealand’s history to index benefits to wages, the former Labour Minister of Finance, Sir Michael Cullen, warned against such a move in 2008: “It is desirable to create a margin between being dependent on a benefit and being in employment… The Labour Party isn’t the party that says living on a benefit is a preferred lifestyle. Its position has always been that the benefit system is a safety net for those who are unavoidably unable to participate in employment. From its history, the Labour Party has always been about people in employment…”

By removing a significant differential between welfare and work, the Prime Minister is indeed turning Labour into the party that says living on a benefit is a preferred lifestyle. By her actions, she will condemn a new generation of vulnerable children into State dependency. This reality is the opposite of the caring image she likes to promote.    

Labour’s changes mean that many sole parents with a couple of children on welfare could receive around $1,000 a week after tax. This includes their Sole Parent Support benefit of $339.69 after tax, family tax credits of $113.04 for a first child and $91.25 for subsequent children, the $60 a week baby bonus, the accommodation supplement of up to $305 a week, $10 a week from the new benefit indexation – along with a range of additional payments including around $50 in Temporary Additional Support and $100 in Emergency Housing Special Needs grants.

For a sole mother with little work experience and few qualifications, an income of $1,000 a week cements her into the dependency trap – in spite of it being a risk factor for her children.

But it’s not just benefit levels that are contributing to the dependency trap.

Radio NZ recently reported on a case involving the health system: “A year ago the 31-year-old father of four was working at the Otahuhu meatworks… About eight months ago he got an abscess and is now on a lengthy waitlist for surgery – he can’t work while he waits and has been stressed and struggling while on the Job Seekers Benefit. They are boarding and have been on the waitlist for a statehouse for around seven months.”

Diagnosed with what may be a relatively minor complaint, an eight month wait for surgery has led to the loss of work and reliance on welfare. It’s an indictment of the health system that people have to wait so long for operations. How many others have been pushed into dependency because reducing hospital waiting lists is no longer a priority for the Labour Government?

And what about housing? This family, with four young children, have been on the housing waiting list for seven months. In fact, since Labour became the government, the state house waiting list has exploded from 6,000 to almost 15,000.

The Government’s track record in housing is abysmal. KiwBuild had to be abandoned and their refusal to reform the Resource Management Act means that under their watch building houses in New Zealand remains amongst the most difficult and expensive in the world.

Their attack on landlords through expensive new regulations, have forced up rents by an estimated $50 a week. More draconian changes, that will push rents up further, are presently going through Parliament. Submissions on the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill close on March 25 – details can be found HERE.

It’s not just welfare, health and housing that deepens the dependency trap – but education too.

A good education can, of course, provide a ladder out of dependency. Yet new data shows that regular attendance at the country’s primary schools is falling. Last year, only 58 percent of children attended school more than 90 percent of the time – a drop from 64 percent in 2018.

In Northland, a region with an entrenched dependency trap, the problem is even worse – only 48 percent of students regularly attend school, down from 51 percent in 2018.

How can children get a good education if their parents don’t bother sending them to school? How can such poor attendance be acceptable to any government?

As a new Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern vowed to reduce child poverty. But with statistics showing any improvement is marginal, she is no doubt hoping that her launch of a free school lunch programme will divert attention away from the real issues and demonstrate her commitment.

A pilot programme is being rolled out to year 1-8 pupils in 30 schools, extending to 21,000 children in 120 schools by the beginning of 2021. Over $44 million in funding has been allocated to the project. The Ministry of Education estimates the meals will cost around $5 each.

This week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator, community worker and columnist Clive Bibby, is appalled at the new programme, describing it as “socialism by stealth”:

“What we have here is a slick manoeuvre by the current government to gain public approval for a community programme that will make them look good in election year and allow the unquestioned spending of huge amounts of dollars solving a problem that is at best exaggerated and for the most part unnecessary.

“In reality it is another example of us sleep walking to state control of just about every aspect of daily living and yet it is happening without a shot being fired…”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is deepening the dependency trap with almost every social policy she introduces. State dependency is not a future she would want for her daughter. It is not a future she should want for any New Zealand child.

The answer to child poverty and the elimination of the dependency trap lies in assisting beneficiary parents to move from welfare into work. It lies in clearing hospital waiting lists so thousands of sick parents can get well and go back to work. It lies in requiring parents to ensure their children attend school. And it lies in sorting out the laws to enable affordable housing to be built in this country.

THIS WEEK’S POLL ASKS:

*Do you support Labour’s policy of taxpayer funded free school lunches?

*Poll comments are posted below.

 

*All NZCPR poll results can be seen in the Archive.

 

Click to view x 120

THIS WEEK’S POLL COMMENTS

Job for parents Jim
No I dont. Graeme
$1000 a week and not providing food for their children? Where are the fathers? Well proven that children without fathers are more likely to end up as not educated and falling foul of the law. Give a person a benefit quickly, and for some time and the incentive to work disappears. Ido
Not at all. It certainly is an under the counter attempt at increasing dependence on government handouts and state control. Nobody has to think anymore!!! Where is our pride in working and building?? New Zealanders used to be an inspirational, go get it people. Many still are but a huge number are becoming dumbed down and numb to healthy challenges for themselves and their children because of increased welfare dependency. Marilyn
An ill thought out answer to a complex problem L
How much dumber can the Ardern get? Roll on the next election.. Erin
She does not get my vote Brian
Let’s annually licence parents instead. David
More welfare is more dependancy. Make the parents responsible for feeding their children. Maureen
There is no such thing as a free lunch, except in New Zealand. Lee
More dependency on ratepayers Bev
Labours intended consequence is dependency and votes. Sam
No It is the Parents behaviour and attitudes that need changing, this Government is dangerous wanting a dependent nation instead of a independent table to think and make decisions Claudia
bad enough that women are paid for all their little *** without having to pay for there food since the fathers have all buggered off or in jail, but with the red prime minister we have at present bending over backwards to let this bunch of no hopers kiss her backside its this country that is getting buggered not her. Richard
Parents should feed their children. Graham
Election year bribe! TOBY
The Prime Minister is only buying votes by having more and more people relying on govt handouts, not good for any country Paul
let the parents pay or make them barry
I fail to see why anyone should have to hep support any one elses children. Most people work to support their own families. Any children belonging to some-one else, is NOT their responsibility. Welfare is way too high. Minimise welfare payments and handouts make people support their own children. Josephine
Ardern’s socialist agenda. If she wants it, she and her followers should move to China Mike
How do we get rid of these idiots? Maybe Winnie could do something worthwhile for once as his swansong Phil
Families get paid enough – even on welfare they should be providing lunch for their children . Stop the handouts. Welfare is a stop gap not supposed be a way of life!! Peter
My partner worked three jobs to make sure that there was always food for his children. I took two months maternity leave to ensure the same. As a parent we see it is our responsibility to provide for our children. luciane
This is Socialism on it’s way. Bloody lazy and hopeless parents. Colin
State dependency is the Socialist-Globalist dream. Pay, irresponsible single girls to breed children who will grow up lacking the morals, & knowledge of right from wrong that civilized society demands to exist, because their parent did not have the skills & knowledge to pass on or teach these unfortunate, often unwanted children.. Of course this will continue for generation after generation, because a free ride, including free lunches are being provided by the state. So now, with PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY being a thing of the past. Socialism is being imbedded generation after generation, until the productive sector is no more, & the entire economy will collapse, thus giving the Globalist Agenda a perfect excuse to entrench a NWO dictatorship. Only New Conservative are campaigning on STRONG FAMILIES equal sound society. The rest are to busy entrenching the abortion for all laws. A.G.R.
Apart from the political ideology being imposed by the COL, surely for most families involved the issue is one of prioritising where the available funds in the household are being spent. I would have thought feeding and clothing the children would have been at the top of the list, followed by putting a roof over their heads. Numerous generous taxpayer funded benefits already exist for families who can’t otherwise afford to do these things, but it seems the more the state provides, the less people want to do for themselves. Perhaps some budget guidance and self discipline would help matters in most cases and make things much easier. Roy
Will the weakling S. Bridges halt any of these policies, probably not. The PM is not visionary and certainly NOT a leader but indulges in virtue signalling as the communist she certainly is, while undermining our democracy. Her and G Robertson are not economic masters and need to be voted out. Monica
I was raised in England and attended school there. I recall having school dinners that to the best of my memory were free. With our social system now requiring both parents to have to work and earn money to achieve a basic level of existence, a midday meal at school makes sound economic sense. Peter
The level of fatalities is not really serious so far. Hugh
Just another piece of virtue signalling bollocks by this commie princess with her 500 000 Dollar salary. These chardonnay socialists don’t give a fiddler’s fart where the money to pay for all these schemes is really coming from. Just dream up another little agenda , call it child poverty, set up another department to administer this newly created’ problem’ set up your mates in well paid positions and cream it. That is what it is all about !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Michael
Where is parental responsibility Roger
No – This is the duty and responsibility of parents to provide for their children. There may be a few cases whee this is not done due to circumstances and these may be catered for – but not a general policy for the taxpayer to pick up. Brian
circumstances should be considered. Hard to know?? Work & Income & or IRD should know Jane
We need to be looking for job opportunities, to increase the number of people actually producing “Stuff” rather than shipping logs, sheepskins, cattle hides UNPROCESSED they should be worked into the highest value products we can make. Lionel
Typical socialist crap. Get everyone dependent on the government handouts and you will never end up on the opposition benches. This CV country has gone downhill since MMP came in. Peter
No. Who gives them lunches in the weekends and school holidays? They are the ones that should be feeding them at school. Dennis
Where does parenting end? Mitch
It gives the wrong message to parents who should be responsible for their child’s welfare. Helen
Absolutely not!! Anyone who fails to feed their kids is a child abuser. People who starve animals go to jail whilst parents who fail to feed their kids are rewarded. Go figure. Socialism sucks. Richard
A free lunch only prolongs a child’s misfortune at having a parent who doesn’t care about them. Everything the State does only absolves delinquent parents’ responsibility. I watched a young lad when interviewed about what his Dad thought about the school breakfast provided by a local service club say that his Dad thought it was good because he then didn’t have to provide it. The more you do the less a delinquent parent will do. Stuart
Wins pay family’s with Tax Paid Dollars to buy food for lunch’s. clive
Our Jacinda is a crafty wee thing! How many will vote Labour on that issue alone? Scary. Helen
dependency helps no one. clark
governments aren’t parents. john
We don’t hear of or see parents honestly starving and going without food (or alcohol or possibly smokes/drugs). How can they call themselves competent parents if they meet their own personal needs but not the basic needs of their children? They should be shamed into doing the right thing! Sarah
Typical Labour policy pushing our tax take up. Even the solo mothers benefit takes food into account so how can this be Justified. It’s election year and she’s making sure the no-hopers keep voting for her, Eric
Why aren’t the maori race looking after their own. After all, we europeans have paid out billions to the waitangi tribunal, again, so the maori gravy train MUST STOP NOW!!!! Rod
It sounds beneficent but the unintended consequences that surround this process have been demonstrated world wide to be counter productive John
Absolutely NOT! John
Giving them plenty! mark
Definitely not! Any family can make healthy and filling lunches for their kids very very cheaply. Trevor
Absolutely not. What Labour should be promoting freely is birth control so those born have a better chance in life. Barbara
Another complete waste of money like the free warm milk to schools of long ago Michael
In this country bread and peanut butter are cheap. Seasonal fruit is normally inexpensive. That’s all that’s necessary for a nourishing, affordable school lunch. What’s the problem? Colin
They need to be taught how to provide for themselves, not have everything provided Alan
Ardern is merely a puppet. Others in her govt pull the strings. She is out of her depth and dances to the whims of her cabinet colleagues. Robert
The Social Welfare benefit was created to assist people through a difficult period in their life It was NEVER intended to be a lifetime income. If you are walking down a road and come to a river, you look for a bridge in order to get to the other side. You do not park yourself and your family on the bridge and stay there forever! Diana
Pathetic. Lookgood Feelgood BS. tony
I realise that this is well-known, nevertheless: There is no such thing as a free lunch! Pieter
I would far rather see less dependency on welfare and more beneficiaries in work. I would also rather see a small benefit for unwed mothers first child and no extra for subsequent children. That way, the mothers are not encouraged to have as many illegitimate children because they presently fell it’s okay because someone else will pick up all the bills, People need to realise you have to work for money to live. Diana
To feed the children is preferable to handing out more money to their irresponsible parents, who may choose to spend the extra cash on booze or confectionery. But, If it must progress, all schools should benefit, not just the low decile schools. There are plenty of struggling parents who have to meet the ongoing costs of the higher decile schools so they should not be disadvantaged. Mika
for the very reasons you mention, you are quite right! norman
Stupid Alan
This will just encourage more irresponsible, parental behaviour. Norm
definitely not john
The alternative provisions are already in place, with government funding extra assistance for each child. The parents receiving this support are not being reliable to use it for the care of their children. CM
It is being dependent on the Govt. David
Better to investigate the parents of hungry children Arthur
No way The majority of families that are not feeding there children are spending there money on unnecessary items john
Children in poverty obviously need a good breakfast and lunch every day, if you don’t have breakfast you can’t concentrate. When I went to school we had school lunches there, in fact, they were dinners at lunchtime, but our parents still had to pay some money towards them. I agree that if parents were working it shows their children good work ethics. I believe children should be educated better about working for a living, good nutrition and good education so that when they leave school the work ethic is ingrained in them. Hard if their parents are on the benefit. But it all starts early on. Never ending circle, but educating children is the place to start in school. Kerin
This problem lies with the parents who do not look after their children in a responsible manner. The answer is to educate or deal with those parents. Brian
i do think when there is hardship and the children don’t get lunch there needs to be help anthony
It seems to me that taxpayers are already paying for children’s lunches through the benefit system. Giving lunches to children at school is a good idea because it guarantees that they get at least one nutritious meal a day but I think that the cost of this should be deducted from any benefit payments the family get. This would prevent money intended for children’s food being “diverted” for other purposes. Geoff.
Absolutely not, it is a national disgrace which only reflects on the levels that this government will go to, in trying to be re-elected Tom
It is just a ploy by Jacinda to buy votes from people on the DPB. They are being paid for every child already, so should be able to provide school lunch to their children. Pierre
It’s the parents role to ensure their children are fed and have food to eat while at school. Darryl
NO! Just another step in building an even bigger socialist welfare state on an attitude of irresponsibility. Nothing beats private welfare responsibility. Don
Nor benefits without work. Terry
It shifts yet more personal responsibility from parents to the state. Also it creates issues around waste, distribution and admin inefficiencies and half the kids hate the food. Geoff
Socialism by government. Time for Labour to go NOW!!! Carl
The parents job mark
Hardly surprising to see such a destructive policy from the ex President of the International Union of Socialist Youth. Dave
What a sad state we have got ourselves into my parents never had much but would have been horrified if the Govt had to give us lunch what is wrong with parents that they don’t feed there children and allow the Govt to take them over Russell
Where does it end. Charles
It is not just going to the starving. Ask any kid if they haven’t had breakfast and they will put their hand up to get an additional breakfast. Adrian
Should have been done years ago. Warwick
If you can’t feed them , Don’t have them Murray
This policy does fill a need and should remain. The increasing dependency arguments are better focused on benefit increases and no ties to being in work David
Of course the parents SHOULD feed the kids, but we shouldn’t let kids go hungry because the parents are useless. Also, so many lunchboxes just get filled with sugary packets of crap because it is convenient, it would be good if the kids got fed more nutritious food. Kat
It does not send a good message to children, as they will grow up thinking that breakfast and lunches are normally provided free by the government. It sends a very different message to the parents of those children who go to school without breakfast or lunch. The message they get is that they don’t have to worry about feeding their children, someone else can. It becomes part of the vicious dependence cycle, along with family violence, that some children will grow up in and inherit. Somebody recently wrote that it is not all child poverty, it is, to a significant degree, child neglect, and the government is encouraging this trend, rather than encouraging the basic human requirement of parents to provide all the necessities of life for their children. We see constant reminders of children mistreating their children, both physically and mentally, commonly described as ‘a failure to provide the necessities of life’, but do not punish those parents of children who do not provide adequate and regular meals, one of the very basic ‘necessities of life’, ‘food and water’. Love without food is not enough. The message being sent, is that you should not harm your children, but is all right not to feed them. While it is generally agreed that everybody has the right to a living wage, it will, by itself, be insufficient to improve child poverty. Education and enforcement is required and should be taken up by Oranga Tamariki and Whanau Ora, both Ministries with the mandate and the funding to ensure the nation’s children are receiving the basic necessity of life, ‘love’, which includes adequate and regular meals. The government, schools and voluntary agencies, sincerely believe that they are providing a very humane response to the nation’s children but, in reality, are only encouraging the problem, not solving it. Those loving families that are feeding their children, irrespective of their respective incomes, are seeing that they could also increase their expenditures, especially those on very limited incomes, by joining those parents, who do not feed their children adequately, and spending the food money on other activities, either to the children’s benefits, or not. John
Her and her Ministers arms are getting longer so they can reach further into the taxpayers pockets. As the impacts of the Zero Carbon Act bite harder and the economy retreats (a fact already stated in their position papers), she and her cronies will start to find those pockets are a place in which it will be harder to find the cash they so mindlessly gather in order to support their largess in the true socialist/communist redistribution of wealth. As Baroness Thatcher stated ” the problem with socialism is you eventually run out of other people’s money”. No wonder the Greens and Labour are pressing for a reduction in the voting age to 16 as how much life and economics experience and know-how do they have. As the quote attributed to Winston Churchill says “If a youth is not a socialist by the time he is 20, he has no heart. If he is not a conservative by the time he is 30, he has no brain”. The funding of school lunches is yet a further dip into the taxpayers pocket – parents should be responsible for their children’s wellbeing – NOT THE STATE! Michael
It is the parents responsibility to see that their children are properly cared for – not the State! Scott
The “think of the children” argument is a living joke of the 1990’s for a reason. Unfortunately, “The ends justify the means” is a warning of a failed brutal ideology, not something to strive for. Pavel
Where does it stop? They will want a bed at school soon. Tim
Despite the increased dependency in some areas this is good Steve
It is sad for those kids who are sent to school without food but those parents who do this should be punished Murray
Saves the parents a few beers. Peter
Margaret Thatcher said “Socialism is a great idea until they run out of other peoples money.” Free lunches were provided because some parents were too lazy to feed their own – and a sense of entitlement fed by greed that politicians foster. The National party is to blame for not bothering to repeal these bad laws and NZ First for supporting Ardern. We need a Donald Trump – like leader to fix our growing socialist problems but I don’t see anyone who fits the bill. Rex
Not in the world should this happen Norm
Why should the Taxpayer shoulder the Burden of not only paying for DELIBERATE NON WORKERS but also their Kids. Geoff
Socialists claptrap………..on steroids Jack 
Ineptocracy, A word meaning a system of gov’t where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least capable of sustaining themselves or succeed , are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers. Sam
What is wrong with Parents, are they redundant now and the Govt is now the Parent to all the useless ones we have. Barbara
parents should provide for their children gerard
It would not be necessary if parents stopped spending their money on tobacco, alcohol gambling and tattoos, and looked after their children. Andrew
so the parents have extra money to spend on cigarettes or alcohol Neil
i wonder what our stupid politicians would do if we all became beneficiaries. bill
There should be no free lunches but children that come to school without lunch or lunch money there parents should be questioned as to why and it is not satisfactory then their wages or benefit should be deducted to the value of the lunch and that child then fed by the tax payer steven
Might be Labour’s policy but it is our money! Sue
Get a job Brian 
Yes comrades … and after we have passed the abortion and euthanasia bills through the politburo we will have plenty of soylent green to feed the children Steve
Definitely , working gives a sense of worth and is good for the person. We should take Singapore’s ethic. No work no pa, np pay even if you work for a benefit. Bruce
Only creates more dependency. Colin
Encourages lack of parental responsibility Jack
Communist Marxist stealth tactic. Not mandated by the taxpayers. This Govt has to go – we cant afford them any more! Tom
Feed the kids at home not at school. A lot of so-called poor parents will only spend the money saved by the kids being fed at school on cigarettes and drugs. No-one is better off. Benjamin
Free or cheap lunch for every child, or none. Free for beneficiaries only, adds to advantage beneficiaries enjoy over low paid workers. Alan
If you can’t feed your children don’t have them . Get a job and a house first like we did in the 50s& 60s Andrew
Providing benefits over an extended period disincentives’ the recipient to get off their butt to look for worth while employment. Linking benefits to the minimum wage simply compounds the issue. It all leads to a downward spiral – absurd! chris
Giving out free lunches to children will not cure poverty. Nor can it benefit those children who don’t go to school. What’s more important than free lunches is actively getting people into work to support themselves and their families. Work is much more than the money; it’s socialisation and relationships, routine, achievements, a purpose for living and an enhanced sense of well-being. Laurence
Just increasing dependancy Colin
It’s not the taxpayers role to fund school lunches. It’s the parents job so first look at their circumstances and see what their priorities are and what they are spending their money on. (EG – tat’s, rings, expensive phones, pets, alcohol should all be out — also the having of one child after another should also be an out !!!!) Alan
Parents, both hopefully are responsible. Tax benefits for workers rather than hand-outs. When will this idiocy stop. Doug
Yes good idea but please Yes for children’s sake but every effort to get families to accept responsibility for having children and caring for them Chris
I would only support this for means tested, deserving cases. John
Another crazy program we can never get rid of – watch it grow and grow … John
Better to find out why their parents aren’t providing for them, and require them to do so. Graham
Just another cop out by irresponsible non caring parents who think nothing of buying weekly Lotto tickets, Takeaways, booze and cigarettes Hylton
What a joke, Surley its a parents first responsibility to ensure basic needs like this is their duty, non negotiable clint
The unemployed need to work then they can provide for their children. Mark
Just leaves money to spend on Alcohol. Cigarettes etc, would be better to demonstrate to benifies on how to live better not give more hand outs Les
Schools are responsible for educating our children not feeding them which is the parents responsibility. Free school lunches is a huge cost to the taxpayer which would be better spent elsewhere eg health. Louanne
Not necessary mike
Just maybe kids will want to go to school to have feed? Just set the parents working would be a good start. Tim
Absolutely not, all this does is give drop kick parents or a drop kick parent more money to spend on gambling, drugs, cigarettes or alcohol. The whole welfare system is a joke and is of course self perpetuating and should be curtailed immediately. We now have 3rd generation welfare dependent families who are more than happy to live off the largess of the Government rather than try and improve their lot by working. The more money you throw at these people the more they want and expect. Allan
She is still buying votes and her own self glory. Mike
If you cannot feed your children you should lose them be injected with a contraceptive so you can’;t have any more Terry
This is just another step into more welfare dependency and therefore makes them more reliant on the welfare system, Shame on them . ken
A nonsense. Just passed the responsibility to the taxpayer Jeff
You have to go back to the cause of the problem. The parents who are at fault and teach then to budget properly not supply an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff David
If charity is funded by the taxpaying middle classes then it destroys the work ethic of the recipient of that charity Lloyd
The parent of any child coming to school without a lunch should be reported to social welfare and charged for the school providing the lunch. Britain has had school lunches for decades but it has done nothing to stem poverty. Bruce C
Once a week I would agree with children being in a class where they learn how to make there own lunch, but not ongoing free lunches. Just gives some parents more time to drink and socialise ALan
Takes away even further, the responsibility of parent/s Heather
Labour are just going too far. It will be another incentive for people to stay on the benefit and not look for work. I hate to see anyone go hungry but this is not the best way. Frank
Definitely NOT. That would be socialism at it’s worst. Communism by another name. Why should taxpayers fork out for those who cannot budget properly? And after school lunches WHAT NEXT? Graeme
If you can’t feed them don’t breed them Bruce. Bruce
This is really the responsibility of parents, not taxpayers Brian
She has maxed out the welfare dependency! this together with cultural separatism is wrecking the country! Maori are demanding more & more state involvement (read taxpayer funding) Stop living in the past get to work & live together as kiwis!! The govt needs to grow a couple or get out. Roll on Sept. Ron
While I would like to support children from families on a reduced income, I do not believe that this is the remedy. This, in my opinion, could encourage parents to rely on the lunch and therefore compromise the value (health value) of the other meals. Sue
This is nothing but lazy parents when we went to school we had two slices of bread and jam and the Apple. Never heard of anything so ridiculous never heard of it before. Mike
If you offer people money for doing nothing, they will oblige you and take it; and keep taking it. Guess what, they will keep voting for you too. Funny that! TOBY
bad teaching donal
give more incentives to get people back into the workforce Norm
Seriously? How can any sane person with a working brain support these damn policies…? Naine
Time for the parents to get their priorities right when having children. If they cant afford making lunch for their kids how about cutting out the TAB or the extra drink at the Pub. Graeme
Isolated incidences of starving or mal nourished kids should be identified and addressed but NOT supply of lunches to all schools in any area. david
Over producing children to get more welfare is not fair on the children. If you can’t provide and it is a long term decision., adopt babies out to others who can provide. Anon
Parents need to take responsibility for feeding their own children and not expect everyone else to Carolyn
Just helps the parents to care even less about their children. I lived in ‘poverty’ as a child without knowing it. Honey sandwiches every day for lunch.in a paper bag used for the week. I got rheumatic fever and 9 months in hospital, but still did not know it was poverty driven. Dad worked full time Mum part-time. There was no real government help – nor should there have been. Dick
When is a government going to realise the more you give the more they will take and it becomes there RIGHT so much unemployment and so many overseas people coming in to work because the deadbeats here don’t want to ruin their day by having to actually get up and turn up for work so many tradies have gone back to working on there own as there staff can’t be bothered to turn up Friday or Monday Peter
There,s MORE IMPORTANT things OUR TAX MONEY should be spent on.WAKE UP people jacinda is FULL of promises to look good but they are NEVER delivered.But she,s promising school lunches ETC as a bribe for the elecyion but WE TAX PAYERS are,nt children so we PAY & GET NOTHING as she,s NOT INTERESTED in any-one that THINKS CLEARLY.National isn,t much better but they are MUCH BETTER than labour in ALOT of things & ALL those on benefits better look 4 work as National will make them & ABOUT TIME. Cindy
Feeding children is the responsibility of their parents. I fed my children and thoroughly object to paying for other parent. children being fed out of my tax money. David
Would a policy initiative called, for example, Improving Parenting Skills be a suitable alternative? Bruce
No,no,no don’t see any poverty stricken kids anywhere, all look well covered and healthy,. What is seen on TV shows the big fat cats lining up for the $100 bucks every Thursday at wingers for the pokies?? James
What Happened to Parent’s taking responsibility for their kids upbringing and welfare Brian
Free simply means the tax payer pays for it and so helps remove parental responsibility. The Socialist way is make the State more of the parent and so weaken the family unit. To be resisted at all costs. Welfare costs just grow and grow and poor parenting grows at the same rate. Roger
Again trying to make someone else’s problems , the tax payer’s problem , as with every thing else .If you cannot afford to raise children correctly , don’t have so many . Roy
why did the parents have kids in the first place if they cant feed them Graeme
Who’s going to pay for it? DJ
I think it is disgusting – all these young people of a certain type are on the pigs back – what about some extra help for pensioners who only have their pension and nothing else – even though a lot of them have worked all their life, brought up children and only on meager wages not all pensioners have had plenty of money left for their retirement and a lot of the elderly have never bludged off the Government!!!! Denise
Parents will not bother giving their children breakfast, even if they could easily do so. Diane
Just another example of ‘What you have, I want; and by stealth if necessary.’ Stuart
Simply allows care givers to avoid their responsibilities Why are the kids NOT GETTING LUNCH from home??? Kelvin
Like many I struggle to comprehend the thinking that these virtue signaling nitwits use to sort out Child Poviddy.Perhaps when they have finally driven the country to a full blown contributing taxpayer revolt they might start using the top two inches and start realistically sorting the problem .Further the pointy headed burocracy advising them could do with a clean out Phil
cant feed em don’t breed em!! Work for the right to exist earn contribute for the right to live here. Mike
Yes, because the parents are hopeless and none of what we give the losers will filter down to the kids. This is for the kids and the cost of the lunches should be deducted from their parents benefits. that’s my view of it and I loathe the socialists. Rod
Rather than target the root cause of why some children go hungry (school or otherwise) the nanny state has yet again penalized all tax payers by their initiative to feed all school children (eventually) so as not to stigmatize those that really need the welfare and let those dysfunctional parents that spend their welfare on booze, drugs and fags off the hook, again. john
There is no such thing as Child Poverty – it should be called by its proper name PARENTAL NEGLECT Bob
Corrupt. Alan
NO child in NZ should go without lunch, so at least 1 good meal a day will make a huge difference to many children. George
The Corruption continues with this government. Nothing to do with family, all to do with election bribery. Won’t vote for any of the major parties, corrupt through and through, the lot! Neil
Absolutely not. If you cannot afford to feed your children– do not have them Deb
In principle I do not support the increased state dependency of which this is an example. BUT Education is critical and crucial, more now than ever, and sadly learning does not happen on an empty stomach. For this reason I support this move – for low decile schools only. Not all schools. Greg
IF a parent(s) can not provide the necessities of life, that child(ren) should be removed from that family with the parents before the Courts. Also, make use of the long term contraceptive Neville
I would like to see a survey done for each family explaining: Why do they have children they cannot afford . Can they and their children read and write and why they have no jobs. It is all too easy to make the rest of us pay. Tells us the reasons and let’s find out how to start correcting things from the bottom. Rule 1. no money then don’t have any kids!!!! There are ways to avoid this. Maureen
Labour are paying for this food with taxpayers money. I already feed quite a few children. Parents should take responsibility for their own. Maurice
It is another example of the State simply taking over a parent’s responsibilities. Pilot schemes have already commenced at a small number of schools but this is merely the Government “testing the waters.” Barrie
Don’t take away the responsibility of feeding your own family away, and give it to a government controlled entity. Kerry
The fact the Labour government has chosen to introduce communist-style taxpayer-funded school lunches simply proves that government is devoid of any intention of correcting the problem that some children go to school without lunches from home. How much more desirable for an extremely leftist government to introduce a system where it can be claimed (quite falsely) that nanny state has saved the children. Rob
Where does all the expected entitlement come from… We are meant to be free and independent, not dependent on the government.. Brooke
This behavior should be headline news, making sure that the whole of NZ knows these facts, before Little shuts down free speech. In my opinion Ardern needs to go, she is the worst thing to happen to NZ ever. Hypocrite comes to mind every time I see that face on the front of a magazine. Merryl
More state dependency is not beneficial for anyone. Charlie
I absolutely do not. support taxpayer funded free lunches in schools. Who will fund these socialism ideals of government when the increasingly older generation of taxpayers are dead and gone. NZ needs less government, not more free handouts to the ‘Needy’ Jude
Another well intentioned idea, that has merit, but will make hardly any difference, the only positive could be students with a history of being truant may well turn up at lunch time? Robert
Socialism Greg
I would support more vocational training for unemployed adults to assist them into work. This is a better solution than merely treating the symptoms. Peter
Absolutely not The more you help people with other people’s money the more they will want and those who are at present giving their children their lunch will stop doing so. Jacinda says she cares but all she is doing is making it more difficult fro people who want to help them selves get out of the dependence trap Colin
Ardern is fixated on following ideology, no matter what the cost, or how stupid it is. or how badly it is failing. Clive
Benefits should be reduced to pay this Robin
It is time for Jacinda to move on. Socialism is not the answer to be a leading country. Inspiration and perspiration by all will achieve this goal. Peter
What governments decide to feed children might be right for some and wrong for others. Parents are mostly quite able to feed their own children. Catherine
NO! It is so obvious what this governments agenda is, socialism by any means. This whole issue of Dependency needs to be stopped, turned around and every effort made for young Kiwis to work for their living, be responsible for their own futures – AND PROUD. Grahamd
We need the children to learn fish so they can feed themselves for a lifetime! Anon
It is important for children to be properly nourished while at school as this facilitates learning. I believe it is a good idea for lunches to be provided at school, but these should either be paid for by parents as part of a compulsory school fee or should be taken from beneficiaries’ benefits before they receive the money. Alan
Absolutely NOT. I’d rather see the money go to the paramedic service or some other worthwhile cause. Even those parents on welfare should still be providing lunches for their own kids. My motto: If you can’t feed ’em, then don’t breed ’em. Tony
Even those that could supply their kids with a healthy lunch will jump on that bandwagon. Why bother when the state (you & me) will do it for them. Kabe
Next it will be free toilet paper the brand they all fight over. Just weak Government, with only a few months left to go. Warren
The free hand-out culture is now so embedded in our system that so many believe they’re actually entitled. Simply put, this would be another concession to the downfall of our society Jim
Unfair. Why should taxpayers fund unemployment to this extent? Russell
We need to feed the children while investigating long solutions for families and parents. Kathy
during and after the second world war, parents in England supplied or payed for school meals, a lot harder times than now. Arthur
Why don,t they give The parents a box of beer at the and of the week as well Jimmy
This is very much a case for parental responsibility.and priorities. A nutritious lunch can be provided at little cost to the household budget. Lee
Create more jobs for parents so they can take responsibility for feeding their children adequately Peter
What a joke socialism at it’s best, it should start from the top how about giving all the NZers that work 40hrs plus a week pay taxes,give them the free lunch. This Ardern government is purely a tribe dictated my Maori ideolgy. Mike
I am a National voter but this is far better then just giving the parents more money. The alternative is the children go hungry, Chuck
Free school lunches give dead beat parents even more money in their pockets to gamble, do drugs or alcohol, instead of at least trying to be decent parents and send their kids to school with a lunch. Kevin
Might encourage hungry kids to attend school chris
It is the duty, privilege and responsibility of all parents to, at the minimum, feed their children. Jenny
The “think of the children” argument is a living joke of the 1990’s for a reason. Unfortunately, “The ends justify the means” is a warning of a failed brutal ideology, not something to strive for. Pavel
Vote buying and no history to follow? IAN
The State should not be feeding kids – that is the parents responsibility.  Murray
All these measures are allowing irresponsible parents to get away with not having to properly care for their children. In the long run, it is the children who will pay the price.  Toni
Why should schools have to feed kids? It’s all getting out of control. Anthony
Labour is trying to turn everyone into beneficiaries including children.   Julian
There is no poverty in New Zealand. But there are parents who do not look after their kids. They should be on some form of income management scheme so there is enough money for decent food. Simon