The Salvation Army has released its sixth annual State of the Nation report on social issues [PDF], and found that New Zealand is increasingly leaving behind those at the bottom of the heap. while there are some positive signs around crime rates, there has been little or no progress on child poverty, unemployment, and housing affordability:
The report found child poverty rates were static over the last year and violent offences towards children increased by 84 per cent in the five years to July 2012.
It also showed a widening gap between achievement rates of students in low-decile schools and those in richer areas.
Between 2010 and 2011 the achievement gap between the poorest three deciles and wealthiest three deciles increased to 31.6 per cent, despite a fall in the achievement rate at the top decile schools.
Inequality was also growing between workers, with those in well- paid work and secure housing getting a pay increase while the picture for those in low-paying jobs was "less attractive".
The housing market was increasingly about the "haves" and "have nots", the Salvation Army said.
"Government's response to these difficulties has been token at best."
This isn't good enough. These are serious social problems which cause untold misery, and we need a government committed to solving them. Instead National seems to be ignoring them in the hope that they'll just go away, while they focus on handing out money to their rich mates. Its clear where their priorities lie, and its not with poor kids or New Zealand's future.
Meanwhile, its also worth noting that once upon a time it was the government which reported on social statistics, via The Social Report. But that started to show bad news, so National shitcanned it. Which means that now the job is left to charities, and the government can ignore the results by labelling them "politically partisan" (i.e. about the poor). Its revolting, cynical politics which helps blind our national conversation on some of our most important challenges. But its so very, very National, isn't it?