According to the DomPost;
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said the rise in numbers on the DPB was a reflection of the job market.Correct in part but not to the exclusion of anything else.
Bennett implies that the 8,000 increase from June 08 to June 09 is primarily about women losing their jobs. Some, yes. But it is more complex than that.
Or is she actually admitting that when jobs are harder to come by women get pregnant to get on welfare? Or that people break up relationships so they can claim both dole and DPB? I don't think she is.
In 2008 over 6,200 first-time mothers with babies under 12 months old were granted the DPB. 55 percent were Maori and Pacific. A third were NZ European.
An important reason why the DPB is growing again is increased fertility rates, especially among the young. Throw in, as well, increasing ex-nuptial births, now approaching half of all births.
If the job market is the most important influence on DPB numbers why, during a period of very low unemployment, did DPB numbers shown relatively little change? The total caseload has averaged around 105,000 for the past decade, with a low of 96,000 and a high of 109,000. It is currently at 104,400. If the job market is the most important influence on DPB numbers then this is as good as it gets.
But she was confident that once the job market had improved, numbers on the DPB would drop again.Not necessarily. Young mothers entering the system stay the longest. Until National gets a grip on that fact and decides to do something about it, a high DPB toll is here to stay.
I have said it before - the DPB is institutionalised. Numbers on it are affected by more factors than the job market. But if those other factors are not acknowledged, what chance they will ever be addressed?
Finally ask yourself this. If a single mother has been in work and loses her job, why doesn't she receive the unemployment benefit? Why isn't she subject to the same conditions as other unemployed people? There is less pressure to work when on the DPB. That's why. And that is another reason why the Minister's optimism that the numbers will soon drop again is misplaced.