‘Solo mum sanction’ solution?

The Government are trying to solve a tricky problem, the ‘solo mum sanction’. The current way of trying to force solo mothers to name the father to avoid financial penalty is far from ideal, but the proposed solution may have problems too.

RNZ: Ending solo mum sanction could cost govt $25m a year

Scrapping a sanction against some solo mums will cost more than $100 million over four years and could result in fewer parents paying child support, ministry officials say.

Single parents who refuse to identify the other parent have $22 deducted from their benefit every week per child. After 13 weeks, another $6 per family is docked.

The policy was introduced in 1990 to ensure fathers paid child support.

The Labour-led government last year confirmed it would repeal the penalty, saying there was no evidence it worked.

A Ministry of Social Development report – obtained under the Official Information Act – said the government would pay out at least $25 million more a year as a result of ditching the sanction.

Officials said they could not predict how people might respond, but warned the cost could balloon, “potentially considerably”, if people were then incentivised to rip off the system.

For example, mothers might choose not to name the father so he could avoid paying child support to the Crown and could instead pay her privately under the table.

Acting Minister of Social Development Peeni Henare said there was no evidence to suggest that might happen.

Has anyone tried to find out if there is any evidence? Has the Ministry of Social Development got any evidence that there won’t be negative consequences or that costs won’t balloon?

Absence of evidence is not a good basis for policy change.

Fathers who don’t take financial or other responsibility for their children is possibly a significant social issue in New Zealand – I say ‘possibly’ because I don’t have evidence that it is.

Henare:

“This was a punitive measure… one that has actually proven to have no merit.”

Where is the proof it had no merit? Did it not encourage any fathers at all to be more involved in the support of their children?

He said the current penalty unfairly punished thousands of children in low-income families.

Is it unfair on children to allow their fathers to have nothing to do with their support? Is it unfair on tax payers to allow solo mothers to exclude fathers from the lives of their children?

It is certainly tough on a mother who wants to keep an arsehole father away from her family, but should the State just pick up the tab, no questions asked?

The current sanction system is far from ideal, but is there any evidence the proposed alternative will be better for children?

75 Comments

  1. Blazer

     /  January 19, 2018

    this is a tricky one but the cost projections are small,looking at the big …picture.25 mil a year is only about what M.B.I.E spends on consultants in 5 months.And the past few years suggests that is money…down the drain.

  2. alloytoo

     /  January 19, 2018

    The Metiria effect, where ripping off the welfare system is seen as socially acceptable.

    • Blazer

       /  January 19, 2018

      don’t know what you call the Dick Smith debacle…I know what I call it….$500mil worth of…..

      • Gezza

         /  January 19, 2018

        😮 Jesus. How many sprogs did Dick bloody have? 😳

      • Trevors_elbow

         /  January 19, 2018

        Squirrel Blazer. Separate isdue that needs addressing but in no one connected. Typical thread jacking

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  January 20, 2018

          If the father is violent or the child is the result of rape or incest, there are no sanctions

          If not, he should damned pay for his children’s keep. The mother who seemed to think that it was totally unreasonable to expect her to know who the fathers of her children were is doing the children a huge disservice. I remember her saying that it was ( ) years ago-how could she remember after that time ? It was like asking someone who the shop assistant was who sold them something some years ago.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  January 20, 2018

            damned well pay.

            I read recently that someone had been on the DPB for 36 years. Yes, Blazer,I know that it’s not called that now, but everyone seems to call it that to identify it.

  3. sorethumb

     /  January 19, 2018

    Slack. Giving into Metiria’s Mob. Another second rate government without balls.

    • Blazer

       /  January 19, 2018

      a decision like this really requires …’balls’.The middle class have been conditioned to look at beneficiaries with scorn and derision,to divert their attention away from the chicanery…of the ‘born to rule’.

      • sorethumb

         /  January 19, 2018

        Conservatives are better judges of human nature than liberals . Liberlas and conservatives are like yin and yang.

      • Trevors_elbow

         /  January 19, 2018

        What utter tosh that comment is. Its working class battlers who hate this not naming dads shit the most. As always you ignore what doesn’t fit you class warfare meme

        • sorethumb

           /  January 19, 2018

          That’s true they know them personally.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  January 20, 2018

            I read Pinker’s book in which he claims that humans have an innate sense of language, complete with a grammatical structure. He dedicates it to his parents ‘who gave (him) language.’

  4. PartisanZ

     /  January 19, 2018

    @Pete – “Absence of evidence is not a good basis for policy change.”

    This could be a conservative dictum, proverb or motto, couldn’t it?

    I can almost hear it being chanted in the streets the next time a Tania Harris emerges to lead some ‘Kiwis Care’ demonstration of bourgeois redneck values … teara includes audio of Tania and others blaming industrial unrest on ‘recent immigrant’ “pommie stirrers” … (nothing ever really changes) …

    https://teara.govt.nz/en/speech/21117/kiwis-care-march

    Where is the evidence that punishing women and children in order to elicit ‘responsibility’ from AED* ‘baby boy’ Kiwi men actually does work? In reality all it does is magically “save” $25 million by punishing women and children … That’s a pretty strange form of “saving money”, isn’t it?

    Understandable though, after 34 years of conditioning in *welfare austerity* aka social cruelty disguised as ‘productivity & efficiency’ …

    E4E – “People of NZ, we saved money by not treating the patient and they died. So it worked, we saved money. There’s no evidence we’d be better off if the patient had survived. So the policy of non-treatment stands. We’ll need a large body of solid evidence in order to change this policy”

    I could write a thesis on how a caring society might deal with this ‘problem’ but since this is already TL:DR for most of you I’ll relent now …

    *AED = Arrested Emotional Development

    • Gezza

       /  January 19, 2018

      Just do a summary abstract. With bulleted or asterisked points. There’s no need to cite lengthy quotes & authors & Partiwords with explanations at this stage.

      • PartisanZ

         /  January 19, 2018

        I’ll remember that Gezza.

        I also have the miraculous adult power to choose not to read some comments …

        Perhaps you shouldn’t take up space advising other people about their writing styles?

        Maybe just stick with ‘content’ …?

        • Corky

           /  January 19, 2018

          I like this…do carry on. There’s nothing like seeing a grammar prat dealt to so elegantly.

          Damn it, Parti, you get post of the day.

          • Gezza

             /  January 19, 2018

            Your standards for post of the day are pretty low aren’t they ?

            If PZ wants to get offended, that’s his right, as we often discuss here. He has the same right to offend others. Sometimes he exercises it.

            I’m happy to defend your right to be a prat as well.

            I was simply suggesting it might be possible to summarise how his caring society might deal with this problem. If he can’t that’s fine.

            • Corky

               /  January 19, 2018

              Please learn to accept your own medicine. Compared to my quota, you dish it out liberally.

              Of course, if you took Parti”s advice, things would be kapai. You wouldn’t be reading my ‘bottom of the barrel’ posts.

            • Gezza

               /  January 19, 2018

              Your writing style is actually very readable, Corky. You write well, even if you’re often just being offensive or prattish. I always read your stuff. My own can be long winded. I like winding you up. You think you wind me up, but you don’t. You give me lots of smiles.

        • Gezza

           /  January 19, 2018

          Well, as I’ve noted above to Corky, if you take offence at my comment that’s unfortunate but up to you.

          I’m actually interested in how you think a caring society would deal with this problem. I I can’t see why you need to write a thesis to explain it. Why not do a guest post?

  5. sorethumb

     /  January 19, 2018

    @Pete – “Absence of evidence is not a good basis for policy change.”

    Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

  6. sorethumb

     /  January 19, 2018

    Jacinda Adern the Iron (Tin) Lady

    • robertguyton

       /  January 19, 2018

      Kei te hapū ia!

      • Pickled Possum

         /  January 19, 2018

        having a pepe. jez whoz gonna run the show now!!!!!

        • PartisanZ

           /  January 19, 2018

          She’s gonna run the show!

          She only ‘leads’ a government, and can do so perfectly well while pregnant, handing over to Acting PM Winston Peters during her ‘parental leave’ …

          Best ‘news’ I’ve heard in ages … (and possibly the only ‘real’ news!?)

          Might as well govern the nation how we want the nation to function … ?

          Is this a world first …?

          • Gezza

             /  January 19, 2018

            Might well be a world first. Bet it’ll flash around the world today, anyway!

          • Gezza

             /  January 19, 2018

            Yep. BBC, Guardian, Reuters, The Australian, Washington Post … Just from a quick Google & ignoring all the NZ outlets.

          • Gezza

             /  January 19, 2018

            “Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto gave birth while in office in 1990.” USNews.com

            Not a world first, then – but still a big item internationally I would think.

            • PartisanZ

               /  January 19, 2018

              Closely followed by local [and possibly overseas] Right Brigade questions about “responsibility” and “appropriateness” I expect?

              Can a pregnant woman make the ‘hard decisions’ required to run a country?

              What if war breaks out? Will her condition affect her capacity to send the nation’s young men overseas to be slaughtered …?

            • Gezza

               /  January 19, 2018

              Yeah, no doubt. But, really, today, who cares, PZ?

              Fuckem.

              This is a scary, exciting, joyful time for any new mum-to-be, finally telling people beyond your nearest & dearest the best news ever for parents-to-be who’ve prepared for & want a child.

              She’ll get so much love & support & good wishes from women across the world mate. It’ll drown out the nasties.

              As for those other questions, we’ll find out the answers now, won’t we? Personally I think she’ll be fine & I hope so.

            • PartisanZ

               /  January 19, 2018

              Likewise …

  7. sorethumb

     /  January 19, 2018

    For a welfare system to survive it must be water tight and consistent over time. It cannot be full of holes. Letting solo mums get away with not naming the father because it will hurt the family is based (on balance of probability) on a lie. The two parents have an informal contract against the interests of the third party, (being), the product of the labours of the rest of society as managed by the state.

    • PartisanZ

       /  January 19, 2018

      @sorethumb – ” … water tight and consistent over time. It cannot be full of holes.”

      The whole system is a virtual sieve of inconsistency. It’s practically nothing but holes – because its about complex individual human beings in ‘society’ – and time is one of the greatest progenators of this, since the system’s consistency or otherwise is a time-relative and highly political construct …

      In pre-welfare days did fathers who just “buggered off” leaving mothers and children in the hands of extended family if they were lucky, public or church charity next or destitution at worst, have some sort of “informal contract”?

      “Balance of probability” has not only got SFA to do with it, your use of the term demonstrates the very inhumanity I refer to above. You’re going to judge the fate of real people, a mother and child(ren), existing in a complex [and possibly incomprehensible] social millieux, on the basis of “balance of probability” …!!!? How fucked-up is that?

      Why not just get a Lotto ‘Wheel of Fortune’ and spin it?

      The responsibility of fathers and mothers in these situations is ‘differential’, the possible factors in non-disclosure simply too complicated to universalize.

  8. Alan Wilkinson

     /  January 19, 2018

    Obviously this will have the usual consequences for the taxpayer of socialist interventions followed by downstream unintended consequences of further multi-generational family disintegration. Well done, Lefties.

    • sorethumb

       /  January 19, 2018

      Under Labour “ferals” in malls and “social welfare gentry” and denial, denial, denial.

    • Gezza

       /  January 19, 2018

      I’ve a feeling I’ve seen *some* deduced statistics on this topic (non-paying dads) cited here before, late last year, either in a post (probably on Metiria) or in comments on a post or in Open Forum. Might have been from someone like Muriel Newman.

      • Gezza

         /  January 19, 2018

        Google turned this up. Maybe it was this that was posted. Some numbers in here. Tho I had the feeling it was an earlier article of hers.

        https://www.nzcpr.com/the-dangers-of-dependency/

      • PartisanZ

         /  January 19, 2018

        I’ve also seen stats of a dramatic fall in teenage pregnancies over the decades, from around 6% in the 60s down to around 2% or less nowadays …

        That’s one of the first things a compassionate society would do: Get the ‘issue’ in perspective.

        • Gezza

           /  January 19, 2018

          Yeah, I saw that recently somewhere too. But that IS the problem. This is a topic that generates a lot of heat. Has done for decades. However we never seem to see anything much in the way of detailed social research & statistics. I’m actually at a loss to understand that.

          • PartisanZ

             /  January 19, 2018

            Likewise … although if Dr Gabor Mate is correct, it’s because the real problem is the avoidance of healing childhood hurt and abuse, as much or more in the personnel in social agencies, politicians and researchers as in the ‘problem’ cohort …?

            It’s everybody’s issue … Everyone’s ‘growth opportunity’ …

            • Gezza

               /  January 19, 2018

              I wonder if it just boils down to:
              1. Cost
              2. People in the affected communities are unlikely to want to be studied or to cooperate with a bunch of earnest do-gooders from outside their group.

              These are the sorts of issues you’d expect a proper “(real) Department of Social Welfare” to be funding studies into at Universities.

              And yes, there’s a huge clue in the name of the Department of Social Department of Social Development that they’re probably not really all that interested in social welfare. Or they’d have more in-depth data on social issues.

            • Gezza

               /  January 19, 2018

              Whoops – Department of Social Department of Social Development = Ministry of Social Development.

              (Gotta get in before Corky! Honestly, he’s become such a grammar prat these days!)

            • PartisanZ

               /  January 19, 2018

              Tau toko that mostly Gezza …

              One of the historic hindrances to ‘studies’ was the belief the only people qualified to study the poor or minorities were middle-class, dominant culture, university graduate ‘experts’ who always came from “elsewhere” …

              Nowadays I believe their are many university qualified people who previously lived the very lives of the ‘problem’ cohorts, plus a greater acceptance that they – the ones with direct experience – are probably the best people to carry out the studies …

    • Joe Bloggs

       /  January 19, 2018

      Wilkinson’s usual toxic identity politics – nothing new here

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  January 19, 2018

        Lefties in denial of reality. Nothing new there.

        • Trevors_elbow

           /  January 19, 2018

          Indeed Al. Every interfering failure is an excuse to play the .. its not fully implemented we need more cash card followed by your taxes are going up to support the feckless the freeloaders and the system gamers

          You get what you pay for… paying for child 3, 4, 5 encourages no responsibilty. 1 is a mistake..2 maybe a mistake … 3 plus is just sticking your fingers up at society and saying f u suckers

  9. NOEL

     /  January 19, 2018

    Liable parent child support is not decided by what the State pays the recipient but what the liable parents income is. Lot of liable parents with motrtages etc living to day to so they can pay child support and do their best for the children.

    Wheres the balls to address that?

    • NOEL

       /  January 19, 2018

      Should read “mortgages and other liabilities living day to day”

  10. PartisanZ

     /  January 19, 2018

    Another thing a compassionate society would do is ask the following research question: Are many children the unwanted by-product of sexual relations between teens or adults?

    If so, what can be done to prevent this before conception or ameliorate it after birth?

    Also: Are these unwanted children subsequently subject to their caregiver’s unresolved childhood hurt, trauma and abuse [which probably led to the situation in the first place]?

    The implication for a compassionate society is exactly the opposite of ‘punishing’ solo mothers [parents] and absent fathers [or mothers]. Our response would instead involve education, counselling and access to numerous additional personal and community resources …

    • Gezza

       /  January 19, 2018

      Yes. On the button with those research questions.

      Who are these solo mums? Ethnicity. Social status or group? How many of them are there? How did they get pregnant? Who was the father (not the name, just the category – incest, boyfriend, serial fatherer, partner who abandoned them? Suicide of father? etc). What is their education level? How many children have they got? Why so many if several? We actually seem to know (or see) very little. There are no doubt many other questions. These are just basic headings, if you like.

      Some people might think it’s offensive to ask these questions – and it’s even more understandable now, given the worrries folk have about their privacy being breached by design or accident or malevolent hackers & cyber-crims – but without this kind of information all we have is anecdotes and arguments over a one minute tv item every so often when its topical, that sort of thing.

      • PartisanZ

         /  January 19, 2018

        I wonder if the Christchurch longitudinal study provides any data in these areas Gezza?

        You’re also on-the-button with all those questions.

        Plus: Assuming once again that Dr Gabor Mate is correct and that the human need is for “close contact”, companionship and love, why does its expression so often manifest sexually? Is this really just “uncontrollable teenage hormones” alone?

        In other words, does a concept of artificially created scarcity also apply to this realm of human experience? It might be called [commercially] fabricated sexualization?

        Ideas like this lead to the most extraordinary possibilities of what a compassionate society might do. For example, the same education system that might be used to ‘humanize’ as well as ‘culturally elevate’ companionship and love-relations between the sexes, might also be utilized to ‘de-energize’ the prurient side of commercial sexualization AND … might additionally be used to encourage and even facilitate youth to more consciously rather than somewhat randomly choose partners and even life-partners?

        A school ‘guidance counselor’ might actually guide young people (of age) towards responsible companionship and sex-partner choices?

        Along with ‘Civics’ our schools could teach and facilitate learning in ‘Human Relations’?

        • PartisanZ

           /  January 19, 2018

          Succinctly put, if school’s are going to be ‘in loco parentis’ then get the best possible parents to teach parenting at them …

          • Gezza

             /  January 19, 2018

            Well I think the Christchurch Study does cover issues like what makes some violent people violent & what makes some clinically depressed people depressed (genetics plus upbringing / environment: the latter makes a huge amount of difference to whether the genetic predisposition is expressed later in life, usually from adolescence onwards).

            I haven’t watched all the episodes, I confess. They are on YouTube and the study is internationally regarded as groundbreaking & empirically solid, & is informing other research projects internationally, I believe.

            But it’s still quite a small survey.

            The problem with the schools acting in loco parentis is getting everyone to agree that that’s their role & respnsibility, & then getting agreement on what things to teach kids about responsibility, ethics, cause, effect, consequences, and life generally, I suppose. Probably not enuf school counsellors, and I don’t think there are enuf men school counsellors.

  11. I wish we could have a national paternity database, linked it IRD numbers, baby daddys will be detected on birth dna tests and have child support deducted automagically unless in a de facto relationship with baby momma.

    • Blazer

       /  January 19, 2018

      a fan of Big Brother.We could micro chip you and scan you…to see what you’ve been…up to.

      • PartisanZ

         /  January 19, 2018

        The whole system could be run like this now Blazer, by some sort of super-computer … with rewards for being ‘responsible’ and punishments for being ‘free’ …?

        Imagine the productivity and efficiency?

  12. Alan Wilkinson

     /  January 19, 2018
  13. sorethumb

     /  January 19, 2018

    The lonely existence of lone mothers
    New and rigorous research into the health of lone mothers paints a sad, and highly disturbing picture, reports CARROLL du CHATEAU.

    Stressed, hard-up and doing a job meant for two, single mothers are sicker, both mentally and physically, than their partnered sisters. A new research paper by research fellow Diana Sarfati from Otago Medical School in Dunedin and Kate Scott, a senior lecturer at the Wellington Medical School, which studied 721 single mothers, spells out something we always suspected: mothers rearing children on their own suffer enormous stress, leading to poor physical and mental health.
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/carroll-du-chateau/news/article.cfm?a_id=69&objectid=195196

  14. sorethumb

     /  January 19, 2018

    Dunedin Study – Domestic Violence evenly split.

    The findings of an in-depth domestic violence study, which showed violent conduct almost evenly split between the genders, are potentially cause for concern, a senior police officer says.

    South Canterbury Family Violence Co-ordinator Senior Constable Steve Wills was reacting to the findings of an analysis forming part of the world-renowned Dunedin Study, which has focused closely on the lives of more than 1000 people born in Dunedin in the year ending March 1973.

    “It presents a challenging picture. If the findings were a true reflection of our community, we should be concerned,” he said.

    Wills said recent ‘mainstream’ studies on the subject had shown about 80 per cent of the perpetrators of domestic violence were men.

    However, in their paper “A couples analysis of partner abuse with implications for abuse-prevention policy”, authors Terrie Moffitt, Richard Robins and Avshalom Caspi found a more even split between the genders when it came to violence in the home.

    They found that 40 per cent of male couple members in the study had perpetrated at least one of a list of 13 physically abusive acts, ranging from slapping and kicking to forcing sex and use of a weapon, while 50 per cent of women had.

    The data did not fit the male-dominance model, which attributes aggression mostly to men, the researchers concluded.
    https://www.stuff.co.nz/timaru-herald/news/81025573/domestic-violence-study-presents-challenging-picture

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  January 20, 2018

      That doesn’t surprise me. But I suspect that there won’t be much sympathy for men who’ve treated violently by female partners. The mother of my brother’s great friend was violent-and her husband was a big man who could have done serious GBH had he retaliated. People knew, but nobody knew what to do !

      When I had an accident-broken ribs, badly cut chin, both eyes blacked-I knew that people thought that I was a victim of violence. I wonder if people would have assumed that I had done it had it been my husband with the visible facial injuries. I will always remember the face of a courier when I went to the door like that-I didn’t know that my eyes had become black overnight-and wondering why on earth he was looking like that. I bet that if my husband had gone to the door with two black eyes and a gashed face, he would have had a different reception.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  January 20, 2018

        Would probably have asked if he won the rugby match, Kitty.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  January 20, 2018

          Er…he didn’t really look like a rugby player. It’s more likely that someone would think that he’d been attacked.

          What could the courier (or anyone else in that situation) do ? Nothing. If the one who is assumed to have done it is in the room, the victim will answer yes to being asked if they’re all right-and say it was an accident, which in my case was true but probably wouldn’t have been believed.

          It was nice that the dog kept away from my broken ribs without being told to, and was bouncing all over me again as soon as they were healed.