The educational achievements of those on the Youth Payment are mixed.
Yet last week in Parliament the following patsy and response went unchallenged.
Youth Programmes—Reports 5. MELISSA LEE (National) to the Minister for Social Development: What recent reports has she received about the Government’s Youth Service initiative?
Hon PAULA BENNETT (Minister for Social Development): Youth Service, which is about reaching out early to young people on or at risk of going on a benefit and engaging them in education or training, is already producing great results. The latest evaluation report shows that four out of five young people enrolled in Youth Service are now in education or training, and 63 percent of 16 and 17-year-olds on the youth payment achieved National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) credits in their first year on the Youth Service, compared with just 24 percent of young people who were on the old independent youth benefit. Fourteen percent of those on the youth payment achieved NCEA level 2, compared with 5 percent before the Youth Service. Achieving NCEA level 2, of course, makes someone far more likely to be able to support themselves and be financially independent.
Melissa Lee: What evidence has she seen that the Youth Service is working to stop young people becoming dependent on the benefit in the long term?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: It is early days but I am pleased that we are already seeing a drop in the number of young people on the youth payment who go on to a main benefit when they turn 18. Seventy percent of young people on the youth payment did not go on to a main benefit when they turned 18 in the year to March 2014. These are young people who have often come from very difficult backgrounds. Wrapping support around them early and ensuring that they are not on a lifetime of welfare is what our Youth Service is all about.
Not a supplementary in sight.
Another example - Last week I provided data showing that the policy to discourage adding children to a benefit wasn't working.
It is the job of a good opposition to monitor government policies, especially if they oppose them. Yet Labour's Sue Moroney does little but push her paid parental leave bill.
Now, on balance, I think Paula Bennett has a better grasp on the welfare problem than previous Ministers and there have been good reforms with good results.
But there are vulnerabilities a credible government-in-waiting would be exposing.