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Youth Benefits


Youth Benefits

The idea that National intends to take away many rights from young adults and young parents may not come as a big surprise but it still scares the hell out of me! There is no provision that I can see for parents wanting to raise their children full-time. Controlling their money in such a stringent way may seem sensible to those who have plenty, but those of us who have struggled to survive on a benefit know better. There can be a huge number of unexpected costs that can crop up without warning and cannot be planned for on a benefit. What we usually do when this happens is buy less food. It is not good for us, but it has to be done (unless we choose to not pay rent or power!) The system the National Government is proposing (apportioning rent and power from benefit and giving a grocery card with only a little money over) means there would be no wriggle room in their benefit. Whilst I presume there would still be second and third tier assistance for special needs grants and medical needs but this would not cover everything. Just for example, a disability allowance is for on-going medical costs, not for a one-off doctor’s visit. This can cost about $40 even if you are a member at that medical practice. A Special Needs Grant can cover one-off emergency medical costs, but what if WINZ didn’t consider it an emergency?

The “payment card” is supposed to be for clothes and food, but I wonder how they can make that work – does it include second hand shops for clothes? Material shops for those who make their own? Would it only exclude alcohol and cigarettes??

I am glad the Government wants to support the young and give them opportunities for study and work, but is this really how it will be administered? “Results based” suggests to me that young people will be forced into things (courses or jobs) that don’t suit them.

This system assumes all young people are stupid or irresponsible. This is not the case and we wonder how they can learn responsibility of money if they are not given the chance.

If mothers (young or otherwise) want affordable childcare available, then it is great if it is there. Forcing parents to put their child in childcare if they are not ready or comfortable with the idea / available centre is potentially very dangerous. Not just in the worse-case scenario, but also emotionally for the parents and children. This can have very long-reaching consequences. The early years of a child’s life are very precious and it is up to us as a society to encourage parents to do what they know is best for the child. Every Child Counts says the first 1000 days of a child’s life is crucial and we need to invest in their wellbeing.

Again the Government is undervaluing the value of parents and parenthood as a job:

"We envisage that by the time their child is one year old, most teen parents will be in some form of education or training," Mr Key said.

"Every indicator says that the best indicator you can have of a child's future success is the success of their mother," Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said.

What this shows me is that they do not think a stay-at-home mum is not a successful person! I personally have a huge problem with that thinking given that is what my main job is!!

Rebecca Occleston, Speaker for
Beneficiary Advisory Service, Christchurch

ENDS

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