Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Welfare policy: Lots of name-changing hides lack of substance

I don't like all the name changes. What will the IT implementation and printing costs be? The problems of dependency aren't going to be changed by re-naming benefits. I have always opposed name changes, as did National when Labour looked like doing it. Ironically now Labour opposes what National looks like doing.

The part-time work-testing on the DPB drops from youngest child aged 6 to 5. However if another child is added the work-testing rules are suspended for one year. Because a lot of people transit on and off the DPB it'll be interesting to see if the same rule applies to a new benefit spell. Unhappily there is still room for someone to keep adding a children to avoid work-testing.

Between one third and a half of current DPB recipients started on welfare as teenagers. If a teenager can still get 5 years on the DPB without work-testing (and at 16 or 17, five years into the future is a very long time away) is that going to be a big enough discouragement to stop this continuing to happen? Many countries - US, some Canadian provinces and Sweden is thereabouts - expect parents to be in work from when the youngest is one. Norway at three.
The WWG recommended dropping the age to three. Which is when free early childhood education kicks in.

The sickness benefit is already work-tested so no change there.

Reduction goals. They are talking about 66,000 in the next 4 years. In the 4 years running up to 2008, a strong economic growth period, the Unemployment Benefit alone dropped by 52,000. So if the economy improves the goal doesn't look particularly ambitious.

3 comments:

PC said...

Surely you meant: "ironically, now NATIONAL is doing it"?

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Poor writing on my behalf.

Rewritten to accommodate the link to Phil Goff's release. Now I think about it, where is their welfare spokesperson, Annette King?

Psycho Milt said...

They are talking about 66,000 in the next 4 years. In the 4 years running up to 2008, a strong economic growth period, the Unemployment Benefit alone dropped by 52,000. So if the economy improves the goal doesn't look particularly ambitious.

This is the most significant aspect of the policy. It means that either they don't expect any economic growth over the next few years, or their welfare policy is purely cosmetic. Not clear which it is at this point.