Time to review our welfare system?

It is very difficult in practice to operate an affordable welfare system that helps those in genuine need adequately without being demeaning, but discourages abuse and free loaders who want a funded lifestyle, and is fair to those who work and pay taxes.

There are obvious problems with our current system, some highlighted by Metiria Turei. Can it be ‘fixed’ with a few tweaks? Or is a major revamp needed?

Budget adviser Michael Barnett at Stuff:  Punitive welfare system is failing those in need

The welfare reforms of the 1930s and 1940s helped to establish the kind of society where the benefits of economic growth were more equitably distributed. However, subsequent welfare measures have been introduced ad hoc and today we have a mish-mash of policy that is inefficient in its delivery and favours some sectors of society at the expense of others.

There is a drastic need to review and reform how welfare is delivered in the 21st century. It is time to acknowledge the loss of traditional manufacturing jobs overseas, the expansion of a low-wage economy and a growing reliance on the unpaid voluntary sector to provide essential social services.

The time is ripe for the provision of a social dividend through the introduction of a Universal Basic Income for all in society. This would lead to a simplification in the delivery of welfare and recognise the contribution of all, both potential and real, toward a fair and equitable society.

Simplification would help, but getting the balance right would be challenging.

A major problem with a Universal Basic Income is the level it would have to be at to provide adequately for those in real need, but that doesn’t encourage non-productive lifestyles as a choice, and doesn’t bankrupt the country.

A welfare system needs to be ‘fair and equitable’ to those in genuine need, but it also needs to be fair and equitable to those who work and pay taxes.