Children’s Commissioner wants ‘conversation’ on targeted welfare

Following on from How many children ‘in poverty’? is this report from NZ Herald that suggests that the Green Party approach to poverty is at odds with the Children’s Commissioner – Universal benefits challenged.

The Children’s Commissioner wants a rethink of universal services such as pensions and free children’s healthcare so more public spending can go to the neediest families.

The commissioner, Hastings children’s doctor Russell Wills, wants tomorrow’s Budget to start a national “conversation” about how to use limited public spending to best effect.

“We need all taxpayers’ funds to make the biggest difference they possibly can,” he said.

And that can only be done by targeting rather than blanket benefits.

“That might mean further targeting of some of those benefits that are currently universal.

“There are lots of examples of that, such as free healthcare under 13 for everybody, free early childhood education for everybody.

“It may be that very structured investment, if spent differently, could make more of a difference to health and education outcomes than it currently does.”

Dr Wills said elderly people would be willing to see more targeted pensions if the savings went to needy children.

Some would be willing, others would probably resent it.

It should be simple to allow pensioners to choose to divert some or all of their pension into a poverty fund.

He also nominated Working for Families as a programme that was “not as targeted as you think”.

A family with four children can get abated tax credits on incomes of up to $120,000 a year.

That doesn’t make sense – upper middle class welfare.

A report last week said 74 per cent of beneficiaries under age 25 came from intergenerational welfare families where their parents were also on benefits.

The report recommended giving priority to parents with children for intensive case management to break that cycle.

Just handing out more money to cement in a welfare class is nuts.

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