Today, Parliament will debate a bill that’s part of the National-led government’s plan to reform the welfare system in New Zealand.
These reforms are intended both to help people out of long-term welfare dependency, and save taxpayers’ money. A win-win.
Drug-free and Ready to Work
It’s important to make the welfare system work-focussed, which is why these reforms will require jobseekers to be drug-free for work.
- 40% of the jobs that beneficiaries are referred to by WINZ require the applicant to be drug-free.
- Yet jobseekers can opt to not apply for these jobs (because they might fail the test) and receive no sanction.
- 1 in 5 unemployment beneficiaries use recreational drugs at least once a week – this is a major barrier to employment for those people.
We agree with Paula Bennett when she said, “Recreational drug use is simply not an acceptable excuse for avoiding available work.”
A Better Start for Kids
The bill will also introduce “Social obligations”, which create incentives and give Work & Income case managers the right tools to help ensure that all children in homes that recieve a benefit will:
- Attend 15 hours per week of Early Childhood Education from age 3
- Attend primary school from age 5 or 6
- Enrol with a GP or other health provider
- Complete WellChild check-ups as they’re growing up.
Healthy and educated children get the best start in life. Currently, children whose parents are on benefits are much less likely to attend Early Childhood Education or receive the same level of medical attention early in life.
Kids in being kindy or pre-school also means more time for parents to look for or take up part time work. All of this helps break the chain of benefit dependence.
Benefit Fraud and Helping the Police
People receiving benefits who have an outstanding warrant for their arrest will be able to have their benefit cut or reduced under the new rules.
- This will save money by reducing wasted court time – as more warrants are resolved sooner.
- It sends a strong message that the government will not fund those who do not comply with the law.
National is also clamping down on benefit fraud. It is totally unfair to kiwi taxpayers to have a small number of people taking more than their fair share from the social security system by fraud. We are pleased that the government is being proactive in this area.
The Young Nats fully support Paula Bennett and the welfare reforms this government is putting in place. We need them so that New Zealand has a welfare system that works, is fair, and doesn’t trap people and families in a lifetime of dependence on the state.
As John Key said, “Our current welfare system is making too many people vulnerable”; these changes will go some of the way to changing that.