Posts Tagged ‘beneficiary’

Nasty Nats bash beneficiaries!

August 11, 2008

John Key has announced National party ‘Social Services’ policy, and unsurprisingly, given it was announced to the most unthinking, bigotted bunch of cranks you can find – the RSA, it is a ‘bash the beneficiary’ policy. Blithering pensioners ranted on about ‘giving beneficiaries respect’ and ‘making them feel good about themselves’, despite it mostly being a policy that lets WINZ staff cut benefits if you don’t get enough work once your kids hit 6 years old.

National party activist David Farrar (on his blog and National Radio this afternoon) nicely summarised the policy, as:

  • Paid work is the best way to reduce child poverty
  • A part-time work obligation on DPB recipients whose youngest child is six or older
  • A part-time work obligation on those (5,600) sickness and invalids beneficiaries who have been assessed as capable of working part-time
  • No work for the dole
  • Any long-term unemployed (one year or more) will have to reapply for the benefit and undergo a comprehensive work assessment
  • Case Managers to be given more options rather than just stopping benefit payments, such as a graduated reduction as an interim sanction
  • Increase in the earnings threshold before abatement from $80 a week to $100 a week
  • Anyone on the sickness benefit for more than a year will be sent to a designated doctor for an assessment
  • CPI adjustments to benefits to be enshrined in law (as it is for Super) rather than merely being convention
  • Those who frequently need benefit advances to attend (at taxpayer expense) a budget advisory service to help them manage
  • In my view, there are two positive points – increasing the abatement threshold from $80 to $100, and inflation (CPI) adjusting benefits in law – with one neutral point – budget advice (depending on how it is handled) – and the rest are 6 negative points (I ignore the claimed ‘no work for dole’ as it is contradicted by the following point, where unemployed have to reapply and get assessed – these are the first steps to work for dole). So an overall fail mark.

    Naturally, the Greens are baffled, Labour must be gleeful at their main opponents blundering like this and swiftly pointed out the old Nats ‘dob in a bludger’ campaign, and the other minor parties will struggle to find time to even comment (please media – don’t ask Peter Dunne what he thinks; if he had any policy he would have told you already).

    In my view, yes, there are people who are content to live on benefits when they could get ‘some’ paid work, but that is a very badly paid life that would not be very pleasant to live. The real focus should be on helping people into well-paid work (not just minimum wage) that fits in with their family commitments. And forcing invalids to work 15 hours a week or get their benefit cut is just obscene.

    The truly interesting question has been ignored by all parties of course – given beneficiary numbers have dropped substantially over the economic boom in Labour’s 9 years as government, why haven’t WINZ staff been better able to give individual attention to the smaller numbers on the benefit?

    I know of at least one person on the dole who used to work until an accident, but when his health returned, the WINZ staff stupidly tried getting him into computing courses. Given his very evident low academic potential, they should have been helping him into a supervised labouring job, but….? Over ten years later, no change in circumstances. The beneficiary should not be blamed if the government (both Nat and Labour for this guy) have not helped him into work.  But better for him to be on a benefit than have the Nats cut his benefit because he hadn’t fixed things, when he is clearly not capable of doing so.

    Better policy needed National – by far!!!

    One good option would be for the state to offer guaranteed full-time work (at the $12 an hour minimum wage or higher) for anyone who wants it – beneficiaries or others. This allows beneficiaries to choose to step up if they want and are capable, while still providing benefits for those unable to work in these tasks (say DoC tree planting, etc). The obvious danger though, is that people will view those still on the (lower paid) benefits as ‘undeserving’, and demand the benefits get eliminated, in which case the guaranteed work opportunity becomes ‘work for the dole’ (though at least at minimum wage – a big boost from current benefit levels).

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