Tuesday, October 04, 2011

MSD boss admits benefits not best for kids

The outgoing chief executive of the Ministry of Social Development has at last acknowledged the findings of research conducted almost ten years ago. This is a welcome but long overdue admission.

Peter Hughes yesterday told a Wellington newspaper, 'We know that for the same level of income, kids do better where that income's derived from paid work.' He is referring to his own department's research that appeared in the Social Policy Journal of June 2002 but was never widely publicised. The findings would suggest that policy should aim to both reduce the number of children reliant on welfare and prevent more coming into the system. None of which happened under Mr Hughes' stewardship. The findings, and Hughes' belated admission, have implications for the many groups who oppose work-testing of the DPB and advocate a parent's right to stay on a benefit unconditionally.

Hughes also described how 'people get stuck [in the system] and they need help to get out' and characterised the welfare system as 'very passive for a long time'. Whether he believes the system has become less passive under his watch is unclear. While numbers on the unemployment benefit plummeted during the early to mid- 2000s, numbers on other benefits have risen or remained fairly static.

It is a great shame that the outgoing CE has waited until now to make these observations. And that senior public servants seem unable to draw public attention to matters of considerable national importance to the country within the boundaries of an apolitical civil service.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well duh. We could just, you know, stop the DPB and stop the rest of welfare

Putting it in context: if we took that one simple step, NZ's credit rating would be raised to the top level overnight