protesters are styling their latest slogan after UK counterparts. The UK Labour Party officially launched a 'stop the war on the poor' campaign last year.
It's a powerful, catchy rallying-cry but what is this 'war'?
Sue Bradford talked on TV this morning about "ruthless" housing policies.
These would be:
- increase the number of social houses provided by either Housing New Zealand or other providers
- ensure that those houses better meet the needs of tenants
- deliver Government assistance in a way that stimulates housing supply
- help more New Zealanders into housing independence when they are capable of making that transition.
It is certain that some people are finding they have to jump through more hoops to continue to receive a benefit as a result of welfare reforms but requirements like attending parenting or budgeting courses aren't unreasonable. The sanctioning regime was introduced to create consequences for failing to try and find work but it was introduced under the last Labour government which also officially recognised that work was the best way out of poverty.
In a Listener column last year I described some of the measures taken to address child poverty:
Many other practical developments over the past few years have targeted poor children. Insulation of over 200,000 homes; increased access to GPs; an intensive campaign to reduce rheumatic fever; boosted budgeting advisory services; low cost procurement of household essentials like washing machines; low interest loans to combat loan sharks; partnering with charities providing food and clothing to poor children; home visitation programmes like Early Start; extended income-related rents to non-government social housing; and Whanau Ora, to mention some.
'War on the poor'?
When I listen to Paula Bennett speak I believe that welfare and other reforms - especially those affecting young people and children - were based on genuine, compassionate and aspirational sentiment.
Protesters calling them 'war on the poor' is baseless and the "filthy Tory" rhetoric does nothing to persuade middle NZ to their cause. In fact it probably does the opposite.