Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Govt moves on Sole Parent Support again

The legislation required to increase benefits by $25 next April to families with children is currently passing through parliament. The bill is called the Support for Children in Hardship Bill.

Naturally the opposition will have to support the government bill. But they aren't happy.

That's because National is taking the opportunity to make another change.

At the moment sole parents are required to work (or look for work) averaging at least 15 hours per week when their youngest starts school.

The bill changes that requirement to an average of 20 hours per week when the youngest child turns 3.

That was what the Welfare Working Group recommended in 2011.

In fact Anne Tolley makes mention of it during the debate:

"The Opposition often talks about Norway, and how they do things in Norway. It was interesting to see that France, Germany, Norway, and Switzerland have a work expectation for people receiving a benefit when their youngest child is 3 years of age. A range of other countries have work expectations at an earlier age, including Sweden, Japan, and Denmark, which is another country that is often quoted to us as one that we should take notice of. In Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Japan, and Sweden all sole parents are subject to a work test, regardless of the child’s age. So, actually, what we are doing here in New Zealand is consistent with international practice.

Finally, I refer to the Welfare Working Group from 2011, which recommended that sole parent beneficiaries should be required to seek part-time paid work of at least 20 hours per week once their youngest child is 3 years of age. Of course, we did not implement that—we did not go as far as that. But having seen, then, the success and the number of sole parents with children younger than 5 going into part-time work, we are very confident that the obligations we are placing in this bill will have a great long-term effect for those families—for both the mothers and for their children, long term. So I think the evidence has been well presented. It is very clear. It is well supported.

I refer the Opposition to the comments of Dr Lance O’Sullivan, who was last year’s New Zealander of the Year, who supported the proposals from the Government at the time they were announced. He stated—and, again, we have good evidence that shows it—that children from vulnerable families at risk, which we know many of those children in sole parent, benefit-dependent homes are, will benefit the most from having access to early childhood education. So the 20 hours’ early childhood education will provide those children with learning opportunities and with socialisation, and we think that that has good long-term benefits for those children."

Of course it still won't make any difference to those sole parents who choose to live where work opportunities are scarce.


Anonymous said...

Of course it still won't make any difference to those sole parents who choose to live where work opportunities are scarce.

like in New Zealand it seems. If you want a job, you'd be better of in Denmark - which of course just expects ALL parents to work and provides excellent long-term child-care for all kids. And the unemployment rate is basically 2/3rds of NZ.

So we'd do better by zeroing all benefits and paying for people to emigrate.

tranquil said...

"The bill changes that requirement to an average of 20 hours per week when the youngest child turns 3."

So, if I understand it correctly - if a solo mum keeps pumping out babies every year then their youngest child will *never* turn 3 (until Mum reaches menopause).
So, that would mean that the parents *never have to look for work!*

Is that correct? Am I missing something here?

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Not quite Tranquil

The rules that apply to beneficiaries adding another child are explained here:

(I am assuming the current 5 years-old will change to three here as well).

Anonymous said...

I am a sole parent looking for a job hard out, it's tough - we are competing against many immigrants who will work for way less. How is this right? I want to work, but am being put thru hoops for even the most basic role. Perhaps employers could lighten up a bit. We are people, not machines!! totally bloody frustrating.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Anon, When you say "immigrants who will work for far less", do you mean less than the minimum wage - currently $14.75 per hour?

ALL employers have costs and will always look to pay only what they have to. But SOME employers realise that skimping on wages is a false economy if paying more means a more loyal and productive staff ie they don't treat employees like machines.

Hang in there and good luck.

Anonymous said...

I am actually getting potential employers asking me what is the minimum I will work for. I realise that people from overseas are just helping/wanting to help their families too, but there seems to be an awful lot applyiing for the same jobs as me. Big corporates are harsh these days, they seem to want robots. Anyway, thanks, hanging in there, am determined, will persevere. It wasn't this hard a few years back. Am grateful for the benefit, but really want to get off it, for ever. Your blog is excellent, by the way, and honest.