$200 per family – for a while

Gareth Morgan is proposing a payout of $200 per week to all families raising a child under three, plus other increased benefits in a $3.3 billion per year package.

What happens when the child has their third birthday? A sudden drop in this type of income would be difficult for poorer families to adapt to – unless they had more babies to keep the income.

NZ Herald: All young families should receive $200 weekly payment Gareth Morgan says in new book

Payments of $200 a week to all New Zealand families raising a child under three and additional payments for low-income families are among proposals to tackle poverty in a book co-authored by aspiring politician Gareth Morgan.

Morgan said giving people more money was not only the most obvious way to help families, it was also the most effective.

In Pennies from Heaven, due out in March and co-authored by science researcher Jess Berentson-Shaw, it’s argued new ideas were needed to create a fairer country for all Kiwis.

The concept of a no-strings-attached cash injection into families’ weekly budgets aimed to remove the stressful, punitive conditions attached to the claiming of current benefits, which Berentson-Shaw said “cancelled out” the stress-relieving benefits of increased income.

A $200 a week “thriving child” universal payment for all families with a child under 3 years old was one of the book’s core proposals.

There’s some merit to doing as much as practical to give children the best possible start in life, as their first three years determines the likelihood of success or failure later in life. Failures cost society in a number of ways.

But poor families having a sudden reduction of income of $200 would have difficulty adjusting.

An additional basic income for lower-income families extending the current Working for Families in-work tax credit of $72.50 a week was also proposed.

It would remove the need for parents to work 30 hours a week (20 hours for single parent households) in the face of increasingly unstable hours and casualised labour in the job market.

That’s not clear – would it mean neither parent would need to work as long as they had young children?

Moving parents into work was only a viable solution once children were older and when the work was rewarding and adequately paid; and work-focused solutions for parents of young children should be de-prioritised, they said.

Sounds like work for parents would be optional. I’d have loved to have not have to have worked when I had young children, but this sounds a bit wacky.

Morgan and Berentson-Shaw acknowledged some people might find the idea of giving low-income families with young children unconditional cash “challenging”.

“Yet achieving a thriving, inclusive, and fair New Zealand is what many of us genuinely want no matter where on the political spectrum we sit.”

Calling it ‘fair’ does not make it fair, and does not make it an effective use of taxpayer money.

They calculated a “gold standard package” delivering free universal early childhood education, increased childcare subsidies for low-income parents for under-3-year-olds, the “thriving child UBI” and a basic income for low-income families would cost roughly $3.3 billion per year.

However positive social outcomes as a result of such a package would net New Zealand a $1.9b gain, they said.

I guess this puts some ideas out for thought and discussion. Social investment is a bit of a thing with Bill English championing it.

But the hard thing to answer is what is wise investment. Throwing money at families and setting them up to go broke when the handouts stop may not be the best way to invest.

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14 Comments

  1. Brown

     /  February 26, 2017

    That will be helpful in funding the drug habit so expect drug damaged babies by the thousand and more disfunctional families. Gareth is amazing – a surprise that keeps on giving.

    • Blazer

       /  February 26, 2017

      another positive post to start the day …Brown.How is the blighter future,looking,these days?

      • PDB

         /  February 26, 2017

        Was looking pretty good until you turned up Blazer……

  2. Haven’t read Morgan’s book but is increasing handouts wise, simply from a political hot potato point-of-view? Why not focus on what services/opportunities low income families are missing out and providing better access to those?

  3. as Brown says above MadmouthMorgan the sociopath , is a “surprise that keeps on giving ” . He is addicted to news coverage. The election will drain some of his funds.
    He, along with Willie, Hone, Metiria, Andrew, and Dotcon or Hager will cause people to vote for the status quo, thereby reducing the NZ First vote.

    • Keyloggers4U

       /  February 26, 2017

      Excellent round up, PS. Everyone assumes Winston will be King Maker. Who knows, the election may be as weird as the American one. And we know what happen there. How can we forget with the continuous whining of liberal Democrats.

  4. PDB

     /  February 26, 2017

    If this was implemented we all know that it would be only the start. People thinking taxpayer money is endless would then want it increased to 5 year olds and under, the amount increased, then 8 years and under and so on.

    I’d go the other way in providing tax breaks to middle-low income earners who DON’T draw any govt assistance. The financial responsibility of raising kids needs to fall predominantly on the parents as it has in the past.

    Giving people more taxpayer money to have kids they can’t afford long-term whilst not rewarding the many responsible people who wait until they are in a position to personally afford having kids is not the way it should work.

  5. Blazer

     /  February 26, 2017

    hard for the average working stiff to afford kids these days with rapacious landlords,rampant inequality and ridiculous house price inflation aided and abetted by the politics of expediency.

  6. Alan Wilkinson

     /  February 26, 2017

    That will certainly bring back the big family again. Money for life so long as you keep the babies coming every couple of years. No doubt the daughters can be pressed into service once Mum gets too old for it. Truly, Morgan is a legend in his lifetime – for promoting stupid ideas.

    • If that were true Alan, wouldn’t Working For Families have already accomplished it?

      Do we actually know that people have more children to capitalise on social welfare? Where’s the scientific evidence? I’ve searched briefly and cannot find any …

      … making massive assumptions [massumptions = new word # 88]

      All we ever REALLY hear about are isolated cases of sole parents with numerous children … and we still don’t know for sure what motivated them to have these kids … I mean … maybe it’s their sex drive …? Could that have anything to do with it, do you think?

      And we don’t know and perhaps never will whether they would have these children without welfare support? Knowing this would take a massive and complex research involving, for instance, pre-legalised-abortion illegal abortion and adoption rates … plus extended family and whanau support mechanisms, whangai adoption etc etc …

      At least Morgan recognises there is growing and grotesque inequality to address …

      He might also be thinking long-term that more Kiwi children equals less immigrants? I don’t know what TOPs immigration policy is yet …

      • I suspect the really frightening thing for economic ‘orthodoxy’ (which is actually only 40+ years old) is that any mention of additional spending on ‘social issues’ points out the inevitable tendency of all social welfare …

        All roads lead to Citizen’s Dividend or UBI …

  7. At the risk there of sounding like a soothsayer, and I’d boringly pragmatic there’s two shows of this benefit being instigated – none and the proverbial. He won’t get an over the threshold support, so out it goes.

  1. $200 per family – for a while – NZ Conservative Coalition