Written By: - Date published: 10:28 am, March 20th, 2013 - 47 comments
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The Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill is up for its second reading in the House this afternoon. It is first up on the provisional order paper for today (i.e. probably some time after 2pm, which would likely be after Question Time and the General Debate):
Parents are very unhappy with it, as reported in this Voxy article:
The Select Committee’s report on the Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill recommends that children of beneficiaries aged 3-4 be compelled to attend an approved Early Childhood Education (ECE) programme for a yet-to-be-determined minimum time per week.
Yet according to the Committee’s report, an “overwhelming number” of submissions on the Bill expressed concern about the Social Obligations, which would force the preschool-aged children of beneficiaries to attend 15 hours’ ECE per week. …
“The Committee majority recommended that parents should be allowed to home educate their 5-year-olds under the Bill, but does not provide the same home-care option for 3-4-year-olds,” she says.
“This concession will do nothing to make parents happy with the Bill. They want the option to keep their preschool children at home. That’s all. They want to make the best decisions for their children. Many children simply are not ready to be left in a strange environment for any length of time at age 3.”
In addition, the Social Obligations targeting beneficiaries for compulsory health care will remain in the Bill under the Select Committee’s recommendations. “The New Zealand Law Society, in their submission, stated that these obligations were discriminatory because they treated a group of people differently based on employment status,” explains Mrs Smith. “We had hoped that the Select Committee might address that serious flaw in their majority report, but they did not.”
Mrs Smith says that the thousands of parents, grandparents, and young people who made submissions on the discriminatory and coercive Social Obligations will be unhappy and disappointed with the majority’s report.
The Report from the Select Committee, includes the minority reports from opposition parties.
Labour Party Minority Report Introduction (p.13):
Labour stands in strong opposition to this bill. Introducing reforms such as these at a time of high unemployment, and without removing barriers to employment such as the high cost of child care and inadequate training and education opportunities, will inevitably fail. We believe the framework for this bill is wrong. Rather than starting from the assumption that those who seek support from the state want to work, this bill assumes the opposite. It is focused on a sanction based regime, and moves away from service delivery that is focused on an individual’s circumstances and intensive case management.
Green Party Minority Report Introduction (p.16)
The Green Party opposes this bill. We believe the paternalistic approach represents a widening breach of our fundamental social contract which unjustifiably compromises the human rights of many beneficiaries. We believe the Government should focus on assisting those who are already desperate to work rather than spreading what are still scarce resources across a range of people who are not ready or able to work.
NZ First Minority Report Conclusion: (p.21)
New Zealand First supports the measures to protect the interest of children, but drastic reforms will be imposed on a vulnerable group in our society. We do not believe that these welfare reforms will lead to less people on the benefit.
At the moment we face a job market crisis, and with these drastic sanctions and dramatic reforms to be introduced in this bill, there is no indication that beneficiaries will end up in paid employment. This dog-whistle approach will feed the increasing poverty gap and develop a double standard New Zealand.
We support initiatives that will prove to decrease welfare dependency, but we are not convinced that this bill will in fact transpire the expected outcomes.
Yet it looks like NZ First will still not vote against the Bill. The Home Education Foundation is asking people to phone or email NZ First MPs, Peter Dunne, John Banks, Brendan Horan and National MPs to urge them to vote against the Bill.
This Bill is a further step in Paula Bennett’s vicious, punitive, bennie-bashing campaign, promoted by Key, English and the rest of NAct.