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New Minister Rejects Call For Work-Testing

New Minister Rejects Call For Work-Testing

Monday, December 3, 2007

In an updated report , Babies and Bosses, the OECD has once again recommended New Zealand work-test sole parents on welfare. The new Minister for Social Development Ruth Dyson has continued in the tradition of past Labour Ministers and rejected this advice.

Welfare Commentator Lindsay Mitchell was surprised that Ms Dyson , a committed social-democrat, would dismiss what is the norm in Scandinavian countries. "This government is usually quick to praise countries like Sweden and Denmark when it comes to social policy yet refuses to consider their approach to single parents. Neither country has a DPB equivalent. Scandinavian countries treat sole parents the same way as any other parent. Once paid parental leave expires they are work-tested for any further benefit receipt. "

"In Sweden sole parents only qualify for temporary social assistance as a very last resort, which results in their average duration of stay on welfare being just 5.9 months. In Denmark there is also no lone parent benefit. Out-of-work single parents are only entitled to a sickness or unemployment benefit. Both of these countries have employment rates for sole parents of between 70 and 80 percent."

"Even the United Kingdom and Australia have recently moved to more stringent testing, with the UK testing after the youngest child turns 12 and Australia, after the youngest child turns 6, with no eligibility for a Parenting Payment for new applicants with children 6 or older. They will be treated the same as the unemployed."

"While work-testing alone isn't enough to be highly effective, it would be an improvement on the status quo. Meanwhile, Ms Dyson claims NOT work-testing has been an effective approach yet there are still over 100,000 single parents reliant on welfare."


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