Wellbeing $s not well spent

How many households can afford another $150 a week?

The cost of living crisis is set to get even worse, with ASB today signalling the average household could be $150 worse off a week by the end of this year, National’s Finance spokesperson Nicola Willis says.

There’s a lot of households that don’t have any spare money every week, now. They can’t possibly find an extra $150.

“With inflation already at a 30-year high and forecast to keep climbing, wages not keeping up with costs, and interest rates set to bite, struggling Kiwi families are becoming increasingly short of cash for the essentials.

“It’s not just petrol prices that are going up – food, housing and borrowing costs are soaring too. Many families will be facing difficult choices in the year ahead.

“For some, the increase in the cost of living will be much more than $150 a week. Things are going to get particularly tough for young families who had to take on large mortgage debt just to get their feet on the property ladder.

“The Government’s only response has been the re-announcement of already scheduled changes to benefits and a three-month petrol tax tweak. Those measures will provide small relief for some, but won’t help the vast majority of Kiwis who are worse off under Labour.

“The Government must set a very high bar for any additional spending. At a time when Kiwi families are being forced to tighten their belts, so too should the Government.

“Labour needs to rein in their big new spending plans to take some pressure off prices and interest rates, and then deliver meaningful tax relief to the squeezed middle.

Labour must also take a very strict look at existing spending and take a very sharp scalpel to any and all waste.

“National’s proposal to reset the tax brackets for inflation back to where they were in real terms in 2017 would mean that someone earning $55,000 a year would pay $800 less tax. It would also mean another $546 for a couple on NZ Super.

“When inflation is the highest in three decades, now more than ever is the time to adjust tax brackets for inflation and give Kiwis some of their own money back.”

Refusal to adjust tax brackets for inflation is increasing taxes by stealth.

Leaving people with more of their own money is a start.

It is however, one which this government is unlikely to find attractive.

It also doesn’t have any appetite for reducing waste, even if it could start with ensuring its agencies aren’t profligate with expenditure on furniture:

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union can reveal how the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) spent $2,047,388 on furniture in just 18 months.

Last month, National MP Melissa Lee grilled the DIA for an apparent furniture blowout in 2020/21, but now we learn that she wasn’t given a full accounting of the Department’s shopping spree.

An official information response obtained by the Taxpayers’ Union shows that the DIA spent $1,935,674 million on furniture for its offices in the 18 months to the end of 2021. The major expenses included workstations (desks), chairs, and ‘collaboration furniture’ for shared spaces.

Additionally, $111,714 was spent on furniture for use in employees’ homes. Two hundred and forty-eight employees received office chairs to use at home, at an average cost of $431 each. Some staff were even given adjustable foot rests, and one received a $115 floor mat.

The spending figures exclude installation costs and IT equipment.

Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says, “The spending works out at $1,048 for every permanent employee. Are we expected to believe that every desk, chair, locker and beanbag all went kaput at once? Remember, this was a period in which a large portion of DIA’s staff were working from home.”

“It appears that DIA has pressed ahead with a department-wide furniture revamp instead of simply replacing items on an as-needed basis. This is egregious during a cost of living crisis when taxpayers are tightening their belts and making sacrifices.”

“The Department even forked out for 3,526 workstations despite only employing 1,954 permanent staff. This kind of spending raises the question of whether DIA is in fact over-funded. If the Government is serious about reining in debt, it should take a close look at the budgets of DIA and other major public service entities.”

More detailed descriptions of a selection of DIA furniture purchases can be found in a response to Select Committee questions by Melissa Lee (page 23). The breakdown reveals a strong proclivity for standing desks.

The sum itself, $2 million, is small change in the grand scheme of government finances.

There’s a far bigger number of far greater concern –  $1.9 billion that hasn’t resulted little improvement in mental health.

A report released today questions why $1.9 billion of investment in the 2019 Wellbeing Budget has not seen improvements materialise as hoped.

The Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission has found long wait times for specialist support, more prescriptions being handed out for anti-depressants, and more Māori being put into solitary confinement.

Its chief executive, Karen Osborn, said there had been some improvements to primary and community services, but “the specialist end of the services are still under a lot of pressure”. . . 

National Party MP Matt Doocey said the mental health services he had talked to did not know where the government’s $1.9b investment had gone.

“You’ve got to ask yourself – where has all the money gone, why is it not making difference, and why are services harder to access?” he said. . . 

Whether  it’s one agency spending a couple of million on furniture or nearly two billion that’s doing little to address major problems, they’re signs of government that is much better at taking money than ensuring it’s well spent.

 

5 Responses to Wellbeing $s not well spent

  1. adamsmith1922 says:

    Reblogged this on The Inquiring Mind.

    Like

  2. pdm1946 says:

    Nothing new there HP.

    Rampant uncontrolled spending comes naturally to Labour Governments as does no accountability to any one.

    Like

  3. Andrei says:

    Almost from the beginning of the so called pandemic™ and the gross Governmental over reaction to it it has been obvious that we are headed for a major economic catastrophe

    People have totally lost touch with reality methinks

    Now as we move on from the pandemic™ we are witnessing a major realignment in the mechanisms of world trade – this is barely being reported – the most visible aspect of this being the war Ukraine of course, something that has not much to do with Ukraine itself but all to do with trying to hold on to the post WW2 economic order which favours the USA and Europe is failing

    To read histories of the era written a hundred years from now would be very interesting – we can only see bits and pieces but IMHO Europe will have been reduced to being a mere peninsular on the Eurasian continent by that time

    I wonder what the lingua franca of that era will be?

    English may hold on the way Latin did for a 1500 years after the fall of Rome or maybe things will move more quickly

    Interesting times

    Like

  4. Government needs to remove GST from food.

    Like

  5. homepaddock says:

    Good taxes might be oxymoronic but simple taxes are better taxes. GST is simple and overseas experience shows the complications, contradictions and expenses that arise when GST is taken off food.

    Like

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