Economic Review of the Status of Beneficiaries in NZ
Economic Review of the Status of Beneficiaries in New Zealand
This paper is an investigation of the human rights of beneficiaries against those of wage and salary earners and highlights some major differences. And proposes a new approach to benefits by regarding each individual as an economic unit due a basic income (BI) such that full rights and participation in society is achievable.
It was prompted by the realisation that the income given to beneficiaries was not given in kind as a wage or salary and that privacy and freedom to act were diminished by payment inhibitions and penalties on personal decisions related to spending of that income.
The position of beneficiaries in the context of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act was examined, and it was clear the Bill of Rights Act extends to property rights, but not to the right to an income, a means by which to live.
The perspective of Work and Income New Zealand was examined and found wanting in that the concept of the income of a beneficiary being the right of the person receiving it is totally absent.
The current welfare system in New Zealand specifically excludes adults who are in a relationship where the other party is earning a wage/or salary. In addition beneficiaries can be disadvantaged, sometimes for very long periods, because they have a burden of repayment imposed upon them due to the punitive nature of our current benefit system.
By retaining such a punitive system New Zealand is demonstrating lack of initiative and is falling behind internationally.
In the New Zealand welfare system the family unit is treated as if it was a firm. This is noted to be counterproductive to the rights of the individuals in that unit, and recommend that entitlement of each individual must take priority noting that each individual will act in concert in the family unit.
The study notes that the current benefit system treats women beneficiaries as if they were the property of a husband, father or brother, not as individuals with full legal entitlement to her own economic/financial means, property and choice of relationships and the restraints this imposes.
Of great concern is that because of these abrogation’s of rights women are more likely to find themselves in abusive relationships with little financial independence or freedom of mind to release themselves.
The entitlements of beneficiaries to an allowance to spend in the fashion that a wage and salary earner would, with the rights of freedom of movement, freedom to live with whom they choose and to participate in the economy must be enabled.
This study proposes a universal allocation to all New Zealanders called a BASIC INCOME (BI) and offers suggestions regarding accommodation to open the market such that all New Zealanders will have options for housing.
A complete reframing of the New Zealand benefit system is overdue. This study recommends a universal system of entitlement embracing full recognition, and equal footing of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, social, cultural, and any other field of public life, including freedom of relationships, for all New Zealanders. This aligns with the fast moving and productive policies being implemented internationally and is in keeping with the Sustainable Development Goals, advice from IMF and the international financial community.