Like the UK, we have a crisis in youth poverty. We don’t have riots, yet, because we lack the population density. There’s no jobs. Increasingly, no hope. Key’s solution? Tinkering. A bureaucratic, easily beatable system where young people on benefits get food stamps and basic costs paid directly. Where are the jobs, Key? Or have you given up?
Here’s the guts of what Key is proposing. 3,300 16-17 year olds are on benefits. Out of a total 330,000 beneficiaries,. Key’s big policy is not to pay 0.5% of beneficiaries just in cash. Instead:
* Essential costs like rent and power being paid directly on behalf of the young person;
* Money for basic living costs like food loaded on to a new payment card that could not be used for things like alcohol or cigarettes;
* A limited amount of money for young people to spend at their discretion.
First off. What’s the point in a card stopping 16 and 17 year olds buying booze and ciggies anyway? It’s illegal for them to buy them already. If the legal ban on buying these products isn’t stopping someone, how will some poxy card?
This stuff all seems attractive but there’s a reason that it hasn’t been done before. It just gets rorted.
Say I’m 17. Got out of an abusive home. Got the Independent Youth benefit. Living in a flat with others.
Say I want to get round the new limits and spend my benefit money on fags and booze. Not true of all people on the IYB, of course. But if you weren’t spending the money on booze and fags before, those policy doesn’t change anything for you. If I am one targeted by this policy, how do I get round it?
Easy. I tell WINZ I’m paying $150 rent when it’s really $100. Even show them my sub-tenancy agreement saying so. Other flatties give me $50 kickback in cash. I buy most of the flat’s food on my payment card. Flatties pay me back in beer.
How are you going to stop that? Audit my spending? Come by my flat and check out I’m not rorting? Get real.
Key’s also going to change the law so to government knwos when a 16-17 leaves school. So they can track the 10,000-odd ‘NEETs’ (not in employment, education, or training). And create another 4,500 training places.
Key’s going to spend $20 million on this. That’s $10,000 per 16-17 beneficiary by my count. I would rather he spent $20 million on creating youth jobs. But he doesn’t have the imagination.
The ‘benefit problem’ is a jobs problem. We know that because when new jobs were being created under Labour, 100,000 people got off benefits. Now the jobs are disappearing and more people are on benefits.
While there aren’t enough jobs, we will have to support those unlucky enough not to have one. No fiddling will change that. All it will do is let the problem smoulder.