New Zealand has a problem
Working-age welfare accounts for around 13% of government’s total expenditure – that’s up from 2% 40 years ago. Many people – by no means all – end up on a benefit due to the choices they make, especially around partnering and parenting.
By the end of 2010, 23% of babies born that year had a caregiver on welfare. The pattern is fairly well established, so a lack of jobs is only part of the problem.
New Zealand has the second highest rate of sole parent families in the OECD at 30%. Most people don’t want to be sole parents, and most children want mum and dad in their lives.
These are statements of fact, not finger-pointing, blame or vote-buying.
By financially replacing fathers, government policy inadvertently caused substantial child poverty. The left wants this poverty reduced with higher benefits but this approach is only more of what created the problem in the first place. At least a third of mothers on the DPB started on welfare as teenagers. Without qualifications or work-skills, a benefit income can match or even surpass any working wage they might expect.
Welfare reforms being passed by Parliament have two goals. The first is preventing these young people from coming into and remaining in the system for many years, through more intensive and practical management from outside organisations, and restricting how benefit money can be spent. The second is passing the financial responsibility for their children back to parents through greater work expectations. For example, a single parent must be available for part-time work when their youngest child starts school.
The reforms are hardly radical. But they reflect a change in the way politicians and voters view welfare. They want a safety net, not a trap that damages families and children. The current set-up is not representative of a society that cares.
Bomber's and and other Truth editorials here