Monday, August 24, 2009

Recession is no excuse to put work-testing on hold

Media Release
Monday, August 24, 2009

Based on UK developments, welfare commentator, Lindsay Mitchell, is questioning why the National government decided not to introduce work-testing on the DPB, despite campaigning on this promise.

"The Minister of Social Development, Paula Bennett, has said the decision is because of the recession. However, the recession has not hit New Zealand in the way it has the United Kingdom, where the unemployment rate is 7.8 percent compared to 6 percent here. Despite this, in two months the United Kingdom will introduce new rules for benefit-dependent lone parents. Those whose youngest child is 10 will be required to claim a Jobseeker's Allowance - the equivalent of our Unemployment Benefit - and from October next year, the requirement will be extended to those whose youngest child is 7. The Jobseeker's Allowance requires recipients to be looking for and available for work. "

"Likewise in Australia, in 2007 work-testing was effectively introduced when the youngest child turned 7 by requiring their parents to register for the Newstart Allowance, the Australian unemployment benefit. And most European countries work-test lone parents when their youngest turns 3."

"New Zealand is now well out of step with the rest of the developed world in both having a dedicated welfare payment for single parents, and allowing them to claim it until their youngest child turns 18."

"Blaming the recession for a lack of action doesn't cut it. The government should put the rules in place ready for the economic upturn. This would be consistent with the Finance Minister, Bill English's repeated emphasis on planning for the recovery."

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