Treasury admits ‘child poverty’ forecast error

Quantifying the number of children in poverty has always been contentious, with a variety of measures being made. There have been political claims of both overstating and trying to ignore the problem.

Now Treasury admits blunder over child poverty

The number of children to be lifted out of poverty by the Government’s Families Package is likely to be less than previously forecast because of an embarrassing blunder by Treasury.

The Treasury had projected that 88,000 fewer children would be in poverty by 2021 using the a particular poverty measure (defined as living in a household with an income less than 50 per cent of median equivalised household income before deducting housing costs).

But owing to a coding error, it no longer stands by that projection.

However it will not have a new projection until the second half of February, Treasury secretary Gabriel Makhlouf said.

“This is a deeply regrettable mistake and I apologise for it on behalf of the Treasury,” he said.

“The Treasury holds itself to high standards and I’m disappointed to have not me those standards here.”

He also said that the error applied equally to comparisons with the previous Government’s Family Incomes Package and so the estimated relative impact of the two packages was essentially the same.

The Treasury had projected that National’s package would have lifted 49,000 children out of poverty by the same measure by the same time.

“The error likely led to an overstatement of the projected impact both packages would have on the reduction of child poverty, Makhlouf said.

The Government was told about the error on Monday.

The revelation comes just two weeks before the introduction of child poverty reduction legislation, the flagship bill of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as the Minister for Child Poverty Reduction.

It won’t affect the bill itself which will require Governments to set and monitor poverty measures – but it will almost certainly affect debate around it.

I doubt this will change much if anything of Government aims and intentions, but it shows how difficult it can be to measure real levels of hardship.

16 Comments

  1. robertguyton

     /  January 18, 2018

    Oh really ?

  2. David

     /  January 18, 2018

    “I doubt this will change much if anything of Government aims and intentions, but it shows how difficult it can be to measure real levels of hardship.”

    Hard to measure, easy to game.

    • A raincoat costs $2. The Warehouse sells sneakers for $3.50 and places like Kmart probably do too. Opshops sell clothes very cheaply indeed. How can anyone not afford these things ?

  3. PartisanZ

     /  January 18, 2018

    “The revelation comes just TWO WEEKS before the introduction of child poverty reduction legislation, the flagship bill of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as the Minister for Child Poverty Reduction.”

    Oh Geeez …. Why am I NOT surprised?

    Essentially, New Zeal Land is RUN by a highly conservative Corporate-Treasury-Global-Military-Alliance triumvirate – for whom the National Party is their chosen ‘NZ branch office’ – with any ‘elected’ government as little more than their studious managers.

    They much prefer ‘Blue’ managers. They really don’t like ‘Red’ managers unless they’re Blues disguised as Reds like Rogered Douglas. So sometimes these pesky, upstart, globally risky ‘Responsible Capitalism’ students need to be stood in front of the Master-Class, shamed, blamed and caned. Taken down a notch. You know …

    This is Jacinda’s “phone call from Treasury” … Very different from the one’s Rogered Douglas and Jim Bolger got …

    It has nothing whatever to do with “how difficult it can be to measure real levels of hardship.”

    It’s about how difficult it is to convince the Master-Class to do anything about the perfectly obvious real levels of hardship. We don’t need any more studies or new methods of measuring …

    • robertguyton

       /  January 18, 2018

      Well put, PZ!

      • “Corporate-Treasury-Global-Military-Alliance triumvirate – for whom the National Party is their chosen ‘NZ branch office’ – with any ‘elected’ government as little more than their studious managers.”. This is utter poppycock. It’s deluded and you’ve not given a shred of evidence to support it.

        • Corky

           /  January 18, 2018

          That’s a basic Tin Foil Hat. Party Z has one with only one antenna. It receives one station with much static. He just makes stuff up to cover the static bits.

        • PartisanZ

           /  January 18, 2018

          @traveller – “This is utter poppycock. It’s deluded and you’ve not given a shred of evidence to support it.”

          What sort of evidence might I have? Emails between Treasury and the National Party? Intercepted phone calls? Secret discussions between NZ Initiative chiefs, Treasury bosses and Bill English at a pub in Wellington?

          What evidence do Righties present to support their arguments?

          There’s plenty of evidence of Right-Wing political interference in New Zealand’s history, including both Rogered’s and Jim’s “phone calls from Treasury” immediately post-election, with their partly fabricated ‘monetary crises’, which perfectly fitted the corporatocracy’s agenda …

          Jamming Uncle Scrim’s ‘Friendly Road’ broadcast on the eve of the 1935 election, the provocation of the Watersider’s Union into the 1951 strike and use of State violence against them … the list goes on … admirably researched and evidence-supported in Chris Trotter’s NO LEFT TURN …

          A trail of ‘fairness and equality’ hopes dashed by ‘wealth and power’ …

          Far from being “poppycock” and “deluded”, mine are opinions and hypotheses formed from educated deduction …

          Pete clearly identifies that this will provide ammunition for the National Opposition when the legislation is debated … despite the fact Treasury’s “mistake” equally affects National’s own estimates of poverty alleviation …

      • Gezza

         /  January 18, 2018

        Might be cock up not conspiracy.

  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  January 18, 2018

    Treasury has decided to get in first for a change and admit errors in its forecasts before they have been proven wrong.

    • Blazer

       /  January 18, 2018

      Honky Tonks did say he had no faith at all in…Treasury.

  5. Zedd

     /  January 18, 2018

    I was expecting a raft of ‘Its all the fault of the (loony) left’ from the usual suspects..
    BUT they can likely get away with blaming ‘the Prev. Govt.’ for a while, but not 9 looooooong years (as the last mob constantly did).

    I also hear there is a shortage of Trained Teachers to fill vacanies. Maybe this is part of the reason the last mob, went with Charter Schools, which apparently do NOT require their teachers to be NZTA qualified !? :/

    More ‘Worms will likely crawl out from the woodwork’ soon