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Changes To Benefit System Bad Move

Changes To Benefit System Bad Move

February 22, 2005

The government's plan to introduce one single benefit is par for the course - if you can't solve a problem, bury it.

"I have myself suggested one single benefit for all fit, working-age people. It should be called the dole and it should be temporary. But this is a far cry from one open-ended single benefit for all, regardless of the reason why the recipient can't or won't work," Lindsay Mitchell, petitioner for a Parliamentary review of the DPB said today.

"This move will reduce transparency. It will be far more difficult to identify trends and problems. Under the present system we are able to quickly and easily identify that while unemployment has dropped, more individuals, including single parents, are now on other benefits."

"We are told this move is an administrative simplification. It will save the taxpayer money and free up case managers to work more intensively getting beneficiaries into work."

"However, the first (or second, third, fourth etc) benefit application still has to be processed. Many people think the beneficiary pool is fairly static. In fact, it is dynamic. For example, WINZ processes around 40,000 applications each year for the DPB. "

"The main existing add-ons remain - family support, accommodation supplement, child-care and OSCAR subsidies. Then there are new allowances replacing the existing ones. The In-Work payment replaces the Child Tax Credit and the new Temporary Additional Support replaces the Special Benefit. The maze of entitlements still has to be worked through."

"The claim to simplification is very shaky indeed."

"At the moment we have 320,000 working-age people on various benefits. That is reprehensible with such a strong labour market. BUT at least we can identify where the problems remain; which groups have longer durations dependent on welfare; which groups have dependent children; which groups present the biggest challenge."

"What the government is billing as the biggest change to the social security system for seventy years is nothing of the sort. It is no more than an ill-advised but potentially dangerous move."

"The biggest change we could make would be to return welfare for healthy, working-age people to being temporary assistance only. Anything else is wasteful window-dressing."

Lindsay Mitchell petitioner for a Parliamentary review of the DPB forms available from www.liberalvalues.org.nz contact dandl.mitchell@clear.net.nz

ENDS

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