The government’s Welfare Working Group released its final report on Tuesday, giving the government 43 recommendations it believes will drive beneficiaries off benefits and into work or study.
The report focuses on lowering the number of people on welfare benefits from about 360,000 to 260,000 within 10 years, by setting work obligations and harsh penalties if people do not comply.
Welfare Working Group chairwoman Paula Rebstock told NZPA she was confident the reform package would have a positive impact on people, their families and the wider community.
One of the many recommendations in the report was merging all existing categories of benefits, including the sickness and invalid benefits, into a single Jobseeker Support payment.
The group also suggested solo parents work 20 hours per week when their youngest child reached three years old.
Recipients who do not meet a range of new obligations would get a 25 percent payment cut for the first failure; 50 percent for the second; 100 percent for the third; and a 13-week stand-down for a fourth or any subsequent failure.
While some of the recommendations around young people who are unemployed are less punitive than some parts of the report, TEU national president Sandra Grey says they are problematic in the current environment.
Sandra Grey said that there is no point telling young beneficiaries that they should be in study if there areno spaces available for those young people.
“The government has currently capped the number of students that our polytechnics and tertiary institutions can teach. That means thousands of students are already missing out on places.”
“If tertiary institutions are so full of students that they are turning them away, as many have been for the last two years, you can’t then blame would-be-students for being on a benefit. They have done exactly what the government asked of them. It is the government’s cuts to tertiary education funding and cap on the number of funded students that is at fault.”
Read more at http://welfarejustice.org.nz