The Special Benefit, extra non-repayable hardship assistance, was scrapped on April 1 but those already receiving it would continue to.
The Ministry of Social Development, through their official media statement, says one of the reasons the Special Benefit was replaced with Temporary Additional Support is, "Establishing upper limits on individual allowable costs helps to ensure people do not receive last resort hardship assistance for items that may not be affordable to other people on low incomes. For example, the maximum repayment cost for a television in Special Benefit was $70 per week. Repaid over 52 weeks, this allows the purchase of a television costing $3,600 - which is well out of the reach of most people on low and middle incomes."
So being without a TV, or a quality TV, was such a hardship the taxpayer had to pay for them. The beneficiary who received the money didn't have to pay it back and if they managed to "qualify" before April 1 for a TV costing $3,600 they will continue to get it paid for.
It is my guess that some people on benefits will be paying their cable subscriptions out of their main benefit and using the Special Benefit to pay for the wide-screen TV. I am sure it hasn't escaped the public's notice that satellite dishes proliferate amongst housing for the "neediest".
But back to the real problem with the Special Benefit. It was discretionary. Case managers could, and did, decline applications. Exercising discretion is too close to discriminating or even judging. So it has been scrapped for "a fairer rules based approach" which will make it "more transparent and easier for clients to understand and case managers to administer."
Now that nobody can be denied the extra hardship assistance, newly called Temporary Additional Support, how much will be allowed for TVs? And what was that about welfare being a safety net?
23 minutes ago