Welfare overhaul announcement ‘imminent’

Jacinda Ardern has said that an announcement on aims to overhaul welfare delivery is ‘imminent’, but it will rely on yet another working group so any decisions are likely to be quite a way down the track.

Some (Greens especially) have proposed a much more generous ‘no questions asked’ welfare payment system.

The Labour-Green confidence and supply agreement stated:

Fair Society

10. Overhaul the welfare system, ensure access to entitlements, remove excessive sanctions and review Working For Families so that everyone has a standard of living and income that enables them to live in dignity and participate in their communities, and lifts children and their families out of poverty.

That is toned down from what Metiria Turei promoted before crashing during last year’s election campaign, in a policy labelled ‘Mending the Safety Net’:

We will:

  • Increase all core benefits by 20 percent
  • Increase the amount people can earn before their benefit is cut
  • Increase the value of Working For Families for all families
  • Create a Working For Families Children’s Credit of $72 a week
  • Remove financial penalties and excessive sanctions for people receiving benefits
  • Reduce the bottom tax rate from 10.5 percent to 9 percent on income under $14,000
  • Introduce a new top tax rate of 40 percent on income over $150,000 per year.
  • Raise the minimum wage to $17.75 in the first year and keep raising it until it’s 66 percent of the average wage.

Our welfare system should provide effective support for people who need it, while they need it. The social safety net should stop families from falling into poverty and guarantee a basic, liveable income. That’s what it means to live in a decent, compassionate society.

Punishing people through benefit sanctions, cuts, and investigations has not worked. Rather than giving people ‘incentives’, it traps them in a cycle of poverty and puts children’s wellbeing at risk. Children suffer when the welfare system punishes their parents, and in the long term, so does society. It is never ok for the government to use poverty or the threat of poverty as a weapon.

The Green Party’s plan will ensure the people on the highest incomes pay their fair share and those that need help are treated with respect and dignity.

That last paragraph looks like code for a major redistribution – one could wonder if it aims at ‘fair share’ being equal share, no matter what work one does or doesn’t do.

Stuff: Welfare overhaul working group details leak out online

Details of the “imminent” Government overhaul of the welfare system have emerged in online job listings.

The job listings show the Government is setting up a welfare overhaul “expert advisory group” supported by a secretariat of officials from different departments.

The listings for a project manager and strategic communications advisor were posted in March of this year on the Ministry of Social Development’s (MSD) website.

In the job description MSD write “the Government has committed, through the Labour/Greens Confidence and Supply Agreement, to overhaul the Welfare System. This work will be led by an independent group of Experts, supported by a Secretariat of officials from MSD, the Treasury and Inland Revenue.”

The listings have emerged as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said an announcement on the welfare overhaul is “imminent”.

Ardern has made clear that some sanctions would remain after the overhaul.

She said a culture change was needed at Work and Income, but acknowledged that “by and large” case managers did a good job.

“Culture change is difficult. We are coming in after nine years of there being an expectation that there be a singular focus on reducing benefit numbers and of course we want people in work, we want people who are seeking work to be able to find work, but I think it has tipped over into a space where it actually denying people who need help the help they need,” Ardern said.

This reform could be a real test of Labour versus Green aims.

Greens want a radical change to generous state assistance as a right and a choice. This may meet some resistance from people who pay tax, but is likely to be supported by those who can’t work, and also by those who don’t want to work.

If I was offered the option of a comfortable income from the Government I would be very tempted to retire early.

We already have sustained high immigration because we don’t have enough New Zealand workers for a number of industries. If we have more of a choice to not work would higher immigration to compensate be acceptable?

Welfare reform is a big and contentious issue.

There is no doubt that the current system has serious flaws and is punitive, but it will be difficult – and potentially very expensive – to make major changes.

For the Greens to get what they want it will involve much more than welfare reform – their wish list would require…

  • welfare reform
  • tax and revenue reform
  • employment reform
  • serious reconsideration of immigration

…and probably more

If it ended up how some indicate they want it too it would involve a radical shift towards virtual socialism.

Leave a comment

21 Comments

  1. Strong For Life

     /  April 26, 2018

    Bring it on. I am 63 and have worked for 48 years. I believe I am entitled to stop work NOW and receive a generous benefit to pave the way for life on superannuation. Thank you Ms Ardern.

    Reply
  2. lurcher1948

     /  April 26, 2018

    Went into WINZ earlier this year about my pension which was is the purple seat area after i completely retired, straight in with no appointment, but there was an orange area,with security guards to control the unwashed unemployed national voting plebs standing in queues waiting to talk to a case manager, IF THEY got past a WINZ staff member standing behind the counter…This was Porirua WINZ
    PS” Strong For Life”, have heaps to retire on like we have,a freehold home ,investments or you are stuffed just saying,

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  April 26, 2018

      How do you know that these people are National voters ?

      I have a freehold house and some capital, not a huge amount. Even with insurance and rates etc, outgoings are less than rent, and when I was left a widow a couple of years ago and my income plummeted, I was very thankful to be mortgage-free. It’ll be a long time before I am on super, and my income’s still not large,so what I’d do if I had to pay rent is not a nice thought – use capital, I suppose. A woman I know was left a young widow with two young sons when her husband died in a road accident. He had mortgage insurance, and while being mortgage-free didn’t ease the grief, it was a wonderful ‘legacy’ from him .

      Reply
  3. Zedd

     /  April 26, 2018

    Last time I went to WINZ, there was an office full of desks, but only a few staff.. BIG Cutbacks under Natl ?
    IF they actually get more staff on deck & start actually helping their ‘clients’ with what their entitlements are & finding work, rather than just playing ‘the blame game’; that would be a good start.
    Methinks Carmel S. actually cares about the beneficiaries.. rather than just yelling ‘GET BACK TO WORK’ at them (as per Ms Bennett & co. for the last 9 LOOOONG years) :/

    Reply
    • PDB

       /  April 26, 2018

      Maybe just close the offices all together and have a ‘free money’ cash machine where the front doors used to be?

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  April 26, 2018

        Isn’t that TOP’s policy? 😳

        Reply
      • Blazer

         /  April 26, 2018

        only banks are allowed a ‘free money machine’…you should know this…by now.

        Reply
        • High Flying Duck

           /  April 26, 2018

          You make it sound like banks are just printing money. The ROI for banks is hardly miraculous. The Aussie big banks peaked at 15% and are closer to 10% now. Those profit levels are not reflective of the magic money making machines you attribute to them.

          Reply
          • Blazer

             /  April 26, 2018

            they are when you understand off balance sheet transactions,and reserve capital.Try the present commission into banking practice for further…edification on these …festering sore on the face of…humanity.

            Reply
            • High Flying Duck

               /  April 26, 2018

              they can “off balance sheet” all they like – the return on equity is still in a normal range for business profits. If they had magic money creation tools they would be making super profits, which quite clearly they are not.

            • Blazer

               /  April 26, 2018

              considering the multiplier of fractional reserve banking and the fact they do not produce…. anything, the returns are quite stellar and cannot be compared to productive…enterprises.

            • alloytoo

               /  April 26, 2018

              Blazer have you worked out how much money is actually in circulation after the fractional reserve multiplier has maxed out?

              Start with $100 Cash and 10% fractional reserve.

            • Blazer

               /  April 26, 2018

              @allytoo ,thats what I mean…the actual deposits are tiny compared to the multiplier of FR banking,making nonsense of the Ducks.. premise.

            • alloytoo

               /  April 26, 2018

              @Blazer

              It’s very clear you neither understand the principal, nor have done the maths.

              Each loan created is less (by the % of the reserve) than the deposit that enabled it.

              Do the math, start with $100 Cash and 10% fractional reserve. Maximize the multiplier.

              How much cash is in circulation?
              How much money is in the form of deposits?
              How much money is loaned out?
              How much is in reserves?

      • Zedd

         /  April 26, 2018

        ho hum pdb.. attempt at humor or just the usual sarcasm..

        Reply
  4. David

     /  April 26, 2018

    NZ First should negotiate special treatment for the 11000 oil workers they just shafted.

    Reply
  5. PartisanZ

     /  April 26, 2018

    These are basic reforms 27 years overdue since Ruthanasia …

    None, not ONE of the items on that list of welfare reforms makes welfare an easier, better or more lucrative option than having a full-time weekly wage – or even a decent part-time job – if you want, need or are able to get one …

    David … Seriously … 11,000 oil workers have just spilled into the unemployment queues?

    It’s great to get ‘straight’ news on this site!

    Reply
    • lurcher1948

       /  April 26, 2018

      Nothings happening to the oil world for 30 years,try to grasp reality,and not believe all you read on whaleoil and kiwiblog, god the right are snowflakes

      Reply
    • PDB

       /  April 26, 2018

      PZ: “None, not ONE of the items on that list of welfare reforms makes welfare an easier, better or more lucrative option than having a full-time weekly wage”

      Of course it does – the end game is for beneficiaries to get paid the same as the average worker so why bother being the ‘average worker’ if you get the same for doing nothing? People not wanting to work will gladly take even slightly less than the average worker in order to keep their lifestyle.

      “Remove financial penalties and excessive sanctions for people receiving benefits”

      This alone encourages more people to claim benefits. Benefits are there to support those in need but it’s a two-way street – we give you taxpayer money and you be totally honest with us as to your personal circumstances including what income you’re earning, who the father of your child is so that they pay their fair share etc.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  April 26, 2018

        As rape and incest victims do not have to disclose the father’s name, I fail to see what the problem is, or why fathers should not have to contribute to their child’s upkeep rather than strangers doing so without any choice about this. Nobody is entitled to taxpayer’s money as an income. I have medical problems, and am on a small WINZ income – I regard this as a privilege, not a right, and I mean that.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  April 26, 2018

          And anyone who complains about $5 prescriptions might be surprised to see what the real cost of medicines is. I once saw what mine cost and it was a very large amount. I can’t remember it now, but it was a revelation !

          Reply

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