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Welfare Reforms a Re-Hash

Welfare Reforms a Re-Hash

The National Government's welfare reforms aimed at reducing the cycle of welfare dependency and branded as Future Focus, have either been tried before or are a continuation of current practice dressed up as a new approach, according to welfare commentator Lindsay Mitchell.

"For instance, the Minister is promising a redesigned medical certificate for sickness and invalid beneficiaries but the current certificate was only redesigned in September 2007 as part of the Working New Zealand: Work-Focused Support Programme. Additionally we are told that applicants for the invalid's benefit who are expected to be able to work part-time in the next two years will instead receive a sickness benefit. That is the existing criteria for eligibility."

"Work-testing the DPB when the youngest child turns 6 has been tried before and resulted in a mere 2.7 percent drop in numbers on the DPB over the period it was in force. According to the Ministry a single parent with two children living in Auckland receives 14 percent more per week than someone on the minimum wage working full-time. That provides a significant incentive to avoid work-testing by ensuring the youngest child is never older than 5. So if the birth rate of welfare dependent mothers increases this policy is more likely to increase the cycle of welfare dependence. That is because children raised on a benefit are more likely to become beneficiaries themselves."

"Finally making people reapply for the dole after 1 year is not a bad idea by any means. But 84 percent of unemployment beneficiaries don't even reach a year. The unemployment benefit is not the problem when it comes to intergenerational welfare dependence."

"Where people are capable of working - and a majority are - the government should be making welfare strictly temporary assistance. That was what the original architects of welfare intended."


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