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Welfare Reform based on prejudice about beneficiaries

Welfare Reform based on prejudice assumptions about beneficiaries

Kay Brereton from the Beneficiary Advocacy Federation of New Zealand says “beneficiaries throughout the country are negatively impacted by the punitive and accusatory intent of the Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Act 2013.”

“The consequence of the 'Welfare Reform' coming into effect 15 July will be to impose discriminatory social bias to deprive one sector of society of their human rights, based on employment status, and income source.”

“ Under this amendment beneficiaries are being automatically categorised as poor parents, a situation which requires financial sanctions to ensure that their children receive health care and education. This is not on the basis of evidence, merely some perception held by the National party and its advisers, reacting to the generalisation of the promiscuous teenage solo mum, who makes a lifestyle out of the state.”

“The 'social obligations' provisions will have an enormous impact on the choices allowed to parents on benefits, and given most primary caregivers are mothers, and 90% of sole parents on benefits are mothers, this legislation will have a disproportionate impact on the lives of women.”

“However this is not the end of the demonisation of beneficiaries character, the reform reinforces the misconception that as well as being bad parents, they are also lazy, work shy, drug users, probably on the run from the law.”

“Benefits will now be sanctioned where there is an outstanding warrant, or where a person fails or declines a pre-employment drug test, this is on top of increased sanctions around work testing.”

“No one is spared, no longer is the benefit a simple pitiful income for the sick and disabled, now perceived as malingerers, they will have full time occupation attending appointments and assessments to ensure they can't work.”

“The result of the reform is likely to be increasing numbers of families on reduced rates of benefit for a series of minor failures, currently most failures are people not getting to a W&I appointment or seminar, rather than turning down an interview or a job.”

“What job seekers need is assistance and encouragement to help build self esteem and confidence to keep seeking employment in a very tough market; what these reforms offer is bullying and punishment.”

“The recession has touched every family and community in NZ, and the closures and redundancies are still being announced, yet the government is vastly increasing the obligations and sanctions on those with the least choices in these tough times.”

“To justify reforming welfare in hard economic times the government has given us extreme examples of benefit use and misuse. I hope however that New Zealanders know better, especially now that almost everyone has at least one person in their extended whanau on a benefit.”

ENDS

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