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Labour’s social welfare policy

Written By: - Date published: 12:20 pm, September 13th, 2020 - 62 comments
Categories: benefits, Carmel Sepuloni, election 2020, labour, paula bennett, welfare - Tags: ,

There has been a degree of frustration amongst some that this Government has not implemented as many of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group recommendations as they have.  My personal view is that coalition politics have not made meaningful change always possible.  And also that Carmel Sepuloni has been working in the background progressing the decisions and a number of changes have been implemented.  Her speech in Parliament in March this year sets out some of the changes that have been made.

She said this:

One of my primary areas of focus is, of course, the welfare overhaul, and I acknowledge the Green Party, our confidence and supply partners, for putting it into our agreement when we came into Government, and we are all committed to that welfare overhaul. We know it won’t happen overnight, because there’s so much to fix up within our social security system. However, we’re committed to doing it, and I wanted to talk a little bit about the things that have already been done. There were 42 recommendations in that Welfare Expert Advisory Group (WEAG) report, and I’m going to rattle through, really quickly in the next three minutes, what work has already been done or how we’ve responded to those recommendations. I’m going to talk really quickly.

In response to WEAG recommendation 2, which is to implement principles to guide the design and operation of the welfare system, we’ve developed a working policy framework to guide the welfare overhaul, which includes kaupapa Māori values, the purpose of the welfare system as a whole, and the outcomes we want to see. In response to recommendation 3, to establish a cross-Government approach to this welfare overhaul, our Social Wellbeing Cabinet Committee is already overseeing this work. In response to recommendation 5, to implement better reporting, we are regularly monitoring the longer-term employment outcomes of people leaving the benefit system. In fact, we’ve already started to record sustainability of employment exits, which is what the previous Government completely ignored. In response to recommendation 6 and recommendation 9, to work toward greater equity for Māori, the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) has launched its Te Ao Māori strategy and action plan, Te Pae Tata, which is about embedding a Māori world view into MSD to help staff think differently about the way they work with Māori—because, let’s be honest, the welfare system has not worked for Māori in this country for a very long time.

In response to recommendation 8, to build MSD’s cultural responsiveness and improve outcomes for Pacific people, MSD has launched their Pacific strategy and action plan, Pacific Prosperity, to guide future policy development in delivering better coordinated action together. In response to recommendation 11, to remove some sanctions and obligations, we have already removed the section 192 sanction, which will come into effect on 1 April, which unnecessarily penalised sole parents. As of 1 April 2020, 24,000 children will be significantly better off as a result of this, with many sole parents’ incomes increasing by an average of $34 per week. In response to recommendation 12, to improve front-line services at MSD, we’ve introduced a client commitment charter, made changes to Work and Income offices to make them warmer and friendlier, implemented an online eligibility guide, and launched Heartbeat to better understand client experiences.

In response to recommendations 14, 15, and 16, to address issues of debt, we have started an inter-agency work programme to look at Government debt, developed the Safer Credit and Financial Inclusion Strategy, and my colleague Minister Faafoi has announced new rules around high-cost short-term lending to protect consumers from punishing debt at the hands of loan sharks. In response to recommendation 18, to improve support for people exiting prisons, we announced Māori Pathways, a group of targeted interventions from the Department of Corrections, Te Puni Kōkiri, and the Ministry of Social Development, aimed at reducing reoffending rates of high security prisoners. And in response to recommendation 20, to increase abatement rates, we have increased how much people can earn before their benefit is reduced, in line with the minimum wage, and that comes into effect on 1 April.

I only got up to recommendation 20. There are 42 in here.

Labour has committed to the next tranche of changes and addressed two of the most important, abatement rates for beneficiaries and reinstating the training incentive allowance.

The training incentive allowance was the policy that Paula Bennett famously utilised to help her get a degree and then cancelled when National was in power.  Clearly she was unconcerned that she was pulling the ladder up and preventing others from receiving the help that she did.

The WEAG proposed an increase to abatement levels for those on the Jobseeker Support to $150 a week and for those on Sole Parent Support and Supported Living Payment to $150 a week and $250 a week.

The Government previously increased abatement levels but only by the incremental change to minimum wage levels.  Their latest proposal is much more significant.

From Labour’s policy release:

Labour is:

  • Reinstating the Training Incentive Allowance for higher skilled courses which will provide up to $4,515 per year to assist with extra costs
  • Increasing the amount of money people who are working part-time can earn while on a benefit
  • Continuing the welfare overhaul and implementing the recommendations of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group
  • Revamping and expanding the Flexi-wage programme to support up to 40,000 more New Zealanders into work or to set up a business

The justification for the policy is in Carmel Sepuloni’s statement:

“COVID-19 is going to impact incomes and employment significantly, which is why Labour is focused on improving New Zealanders’ access to training, creating a more highly skilled workforce and ensuring those on benefits can keep more of what they earn,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

“Investing in our people is a key part of Labour’s five point economic plan. We have supported over 1.7 million jobs through the Wage Subsidy and launched the apprenticeship support scheme, Apprenticeship Boost, to keep apprentices in jobs and support employers to invest in new ones, as we rebuild the economy from the impact of COVID-19.

“On top of that we have already announced that Labour will expand the Flexi-Wage programme. Labour will be investing an additional $300m to increase the average subsidy to $7,500 and enable up to 40,000 people to take advantage of the programme.

“The TIA is an investment in a family’s future. I was supported by the TIA for a period of time when I was a sole parent and studying. It made a big difference having that little bit of extra financial support when I was trying to get ahead and build a future for my family.

“Access to support for higher level courses under the TIA was taken away by National, despite the responsible, Minister Paula Bennett herself having benefited from this support. Labour is putting the ladder of support back in place after National pulled it up behind them,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

“In 2018, under the existing settings, around 900 people accessed the TIA. Reinstating access to the TIA for degree level study is estimated to increase uptake to over 6,000 in the first year, increasing to 15,000 in later years.

The proposed changes are significant although some will think they should go further.

The best way for those who want to witness a meaningful debate about whether they go far enough is to elect a Labour Green government.

62 comments on “Labour’s social welfare policy ”

  1. Byd0nz 1

    The last paragraph pretty well sums it up and the question about the NZF handbrake could well be answered.

  2. Sabine 2

    Of all the articles lately this has got to be the most pathetic of all of them.

    IF this is the very best labour can do after three years in office, during a pandemic that sees people lose their jobs daily, then the poor of this country may as well stay home.

    Cause the kinder gentler bullshit is just that. Bullshit.

    this whole 'look it' we are giving people money to re-hire the people they let go cause global pandemic is nothing more but another tax give away to the corporation, as the small businesses with their less then 40% loss currently can't even get a wage subsidy during a lockdown 3 to keep on those they still employ.

    "look it' we are giving peanuts to the people that have no jobs so that they can create their own business? Everyone, quickly apply for a grant to buy a sewing machine, all 11.000 + covid unemployed sew masks, i hear its a growth business.

    'look it' we are bringing back – after three years in government a benefit that was cut 12 years ago. But will it be adjusted for inflation?

    "look it' we are doing fuck all, but we talk a lot about the 'value ' of work – cause obviously people on the benefit need to be thought the 'value' of work.

    In the meantime these are the same starvation live in a ditch unemployment bullshit $rates they were under National.

    https://www.workandincome.govt.nz/products/benefit-rates/benefit-rates-april-2020.html#null

    For shame labour, for fucking shame.

    • mickysavage 2.1

      Sabine Please.

      This is the most radical social welfare policy the Labour Party has ever endorsed during my membership which dates back to the 1970s.

      • Sabine 2.1.1

        I dont' give a flying dime. If that is the best the Labour party can do, they deserve to die in the wilderness.

        There is some real hurt out there, and they do nothing NOTHING to change a single thing. Fuck em.

        And while we are at it, next time you might want to remind these Ladies , Carmel Sepuloni and her boss , that the people that pay their wages do not need to be educated about the 'value of work'. We know the value of work, without it we die in a ditch while she gets to do fuck all, has to achieve absolutely nothing and can ask to be re-elected just like the other clowns.

        For shame Labour For shame For shame For shame. Not one bit of decency in that whole party, exactly the same as the other side of the coin, just full of gentler kinder bullshit.

        • mickysavage 2.1.1.1

          Having spent the last 20 years deeply immersed in West Auckland politics can I say that Carmel Sepuloni is the most capable and most left wing MP we have had out here. Criticise her because for some reason her talents did not mean that the overall direction of the country did not go as far as you thought it should but do not claim that she should be personally blamed.

    • Michael 2.2

      Agree. Labour no longer offers solutions to social problems. It is part of the problem. A big part.

  3. Barfly 3

    That is reasonably impressive…I would like to know the mechanics around the abatement levels proposed and the Accommodation Supplement – it would be sad if the mechanics of that left beneficiaries no better or only a little better off. The cynic in me is strong indecision

    • Sabine 3.1

      Any fringe benefits would drop if the income declared increases and that would mean just that.

      So yeah, its not cynical to believe that his will leave to a poor person currently not working being a working poor by way of design. But they will have learned the 'value' of working.

    • Chris 3.2

      At the moment the rate of an accommodation supplement paid to a beneficiary remains the same providing that any increase in income doesn't abate the main benefit away to zero. Lifting the abatement rate has the effect of increasing an existing beneficiary's disposable income by allowing more of the main benefit to be retained, and at the same time increasing the number of people eligible to receive a main benefit. The accommodation supplement for beneficiaries isn't affected by a relaxation of abatement rules because the cut-out mechanism is basically when income received from wages etc abates the main benefit down to nothing.

      However, the temporary additional support is a different story because the increased rate of main benefit means an increase in income for temporary additional support purposes, which means less temporary additional support. The calculation's generally on a dollar-for-dollar basis. The temporary additional support is paid to the poorest people so again it's this group that's advantaged the least, and in many cases this will mean not at all.

      • Barfly 3.2.1

        "At the moment the rate of an accommodation supplement paid to a beneficiary remains the same providing that any increase in income doesn't abate the main benefit away to zero. "

        I am unsure of that because that has not been my experience in the past (some years ago) . For instance it used to be that having liquid assets led to accommodation benefit abatement starting at $2700 and by $8100 liquid assets the accommodation supplement was reduced to ZERO

        • Barfly 3.2.1.1

          I will be happy to be wrong

        • Chris 3.2.1.2

          I could be wrong, too. My thinking is that while there are other situations where the accommodation supplement is reduced by an increase in income, the nature of the increase brought about by a relaxation of the abatement rules is different. This is because relaxing the abatement rules means a beneficiary gets to keep more of the main benefit. The accommodation supplement income test for beneficiaries is simply that if you qualify for a main benefit, even just $1 of main benefit, the accommodation supplement is paid at the assessed rate. Relaxing the abatement rate actually means more main benefit, not less, so a beneficiary will not lose any main benefit at all (it will not go down to zero) therefore the assessed rate of accommodation supplement remains the same. What relaxing the abatement rates does is that it actually increases the number of people entitled to a main benefit and accommodation supplement whose income prior meant there was no entitlement. The $2700 and $8100 amounts refer to the asset test, as opposed to income test.

          Again though, it’s the poorest who miss out because the temporary additional support is assessed according to the level of main benefit so as that increases the temporary additional support drops.

  4. Tiger Mountain 4

    Nice try Micky to defend the glacial rate of change, though certainly agree with your last sentence!

    Strangely enough the “Covid Newbie unemployed” may help drive the necessary changes to welfare that advocates in the field and indeed the Experts Working Group have long identified. The two tier benefit system has exposed the inadequacy of the existing one to the middle classes.

    Carmel has seemingly been captured by the neo liberal tops at MSD/WINZ, and their longstanding application of made up policy before legislation. It would be easy enough to raise benefit levels, cancel established debts, drop stand downs, sanctions, and abatement rates at a stroke, to enable NZers to seamlessly move between work and welfare or something inbetween.

    Ultimately this punitive, sadistic Dept. should be disestablished for good. IRD could handle a slimmed down, non inquisitorial, payment system, and a new Social Security Agency set up to handle special needs groups–Disabled, Sick, ACC etc.

    • mickysavage 4.1

      I am happy not to defend Labour on occasions. But I am utterly convinced that Carmel has the best interests of beneficiaries at heart and is pushing this as far as she can.

      • Tiger Mountain 4.1.1

        I believe your belief in Carmel’s intentions, I have met her via door knocks and Avondale market etc., and a friend knows her quite well. But, I do not know if she really has the ideological base and class understanding to challenge the expert bastards at the top of WINZ/MSD. They are hardened “Wisconsin School” sadists who will obstruct and push back at any attempt to grant the vulnerable the assistance they seek.

      • Michael 4.1.2

        Then someone else is blocking her and she doesn't have the necessary political skills to do what needs to be done in that portfolio.

  5. Chris 5

    Coalition politics may have had an effect on the lack of movement on fixing the benefit system but it's hard not to think Labour's never really been interested when it passed the 2018 Act. That Act was introduced by a National government but Labour adopted it as its own and passed it pretty much unchanged. The nats hailed it as "policy neutral" and a simplification of the 1964 Act, which it just wasn't. Welfare legislation in New Zealand is now ten times more complex as a result. For every section under the 1964 Act we now have anything up to 12 new separate provisions. Four or five would probably be the average increase, with far more use of regulations so things are spread over multiple instruments. It's just bloody ridiculous, and it's not policy neutral, either – it was introduced by a Nation government for goodness' sake.

    The fact this Labour-led government did this must surely mean they've never really been serious about fixing that much.

  6. Reality 6

    Unemployed and those who are disabled should of course absolutely be supported adequately and with care by MSD.

    But what does annoy those who get up each day and toil away at a job that might be physically tough, or unstimulating, or simply awful, is when they hear gripes by those who don't have do that, even if for valid reasons. For example a person standing for election in Hamilton I think it was, for some obscure party, openly chooses not to work because he has not found a job he likes so has opted to be on a benefit and makes no apology about it.

    Examples like that don't help those who genuinely need state assistance and the general public gets annoyed.

    • Michael 6.1

      "Unemployed and those who are disabled should of course absolutely be supported adequately and with care by MSD. "

      They are not under this govt and that's the problem. Labour is terrified of middle class backlash and will not treat vulnerable people decently because of it.

  7. Incognito 7

    Meaningful changes in Social Welfare take time, I get that. It’s hard to believe that the WEAG Report was released only 16 months ago. It’s also understandable that the pandemic has expedited some things but by how much we’ll never know. A debate can only be meaningful if it goes beyond partisan enthusiasm, cheering, and applause, on the one hand, and sarcasm, antagonism, and whining, on the other. I agree that our best opportunity lies with a Labour-Green Coalition Government but even so, this will not lead to overnight changes and improvements. What can be done to speed up the process? One word: communication.

    • mickysavage 7.1

      Heh. Agreed. As someone who is identified as being a partisan Labour supporter but who finds when they do their TVNZ Vote Compass they are on the left of the Green Party all I can say is that I agree …

      • Anne 7.1.1

        I'm between the two – to the left of Labour but to the right of the Greens. I'll take that. It gives me a second option if I feel inclined. 🙂

    • weka 7.2

      Whining? Really?

      • Incognito 7.2.1

        Yup, I was being ‘diplomatic’. Some is much worse than “whining”. Some self-confessed lefties are their own worst enemies.

  8. Reality 8

    Correction, the Hamilton man is standing as an independent in Hamilton East.

  9. Kay 9

    Sorry Mickey, but Labour's attitude towards beneficiaries just can't be defended. Although it probably looks do kind and wonderful to persons like yourself whom (I presume) have never been on the receiving end.

    May I remind you that Labour made their position on beneficiaries perfectly clear after 1999 when they had ample opportunity to reverse the cuts and other carnage inflicted by Ruth & Jenny and they had no 'handbreak' to prevent this happening, just no desire to.

    And their track record in the last opposition isn't one to be proud of, IIRC at one point siding with the Nats on one area of welfare reform (correct me if I'm mistaken there). Sepaloni as opposition spokesperson was absolutely pathetic and her disdain for beneficiaries was clear to us even then. You'll also note her neo-lib obsession with work work work.

    All this tinkering around the edges pretending to be nice… All the small token gestures. How about taking a really close listen at the wording every time she's challenged about benefit rates being too low. But, but… we introduced the Winter energy payment! Aren't we so wonderful! Never mind the fact it gets spent on everything but turning on the heater.

    Oh, and the pathetic excuses why things like indivualising benefits can't happen right away (their system isn't set up for it) yet the system works fine for the individualised covid recipients. I'll leave that to your interpretation. There's always some excuse that simple things that could be fixed overnight have to take at least a year. Because they don't want to.

    And I will continue to say this- TIA & abatement is bugger all use to those of us who can't retrain or work, but politicians don't like to acknowledge we exist because then they have to acknowledge how badly they treat and underpay sick and disabled as well. Mickey, perhaps you'd like to ask Carmel about this on our behalf because she refuses to redpond to correspondence that makes her feel uncomfortable.

    • Tiger Mountain 9.1

      Yep, individualising benefits would have a significant effect. Who you love, like, live with with, or associate with, would cease to have an impact on your eligibility for any state payments.

      Wiping punitive, unpayable debts established by WINZ/MSD (often due to benefits being non liveable!) would also be a useful fix.

    • Nordy 9.2

      Perhaps Kay, for those of us who don't understand, you could explain how the changes you refer to (individualising benefits) could happen overnight?

      If you think the reason they haven't occurred is down to 'pathetic excuses', then what would would you do differently and importantly what information or evidence you base your views on.

      The reason I ask is that is very easy to take aim at politicians (and by extension the public servants who advise them when they are in government), without having to actually explain in any detail the supposed alternative.

      • Kay 9.2.1

        Nordy. I'm single and get a full single rate benefit. If I hook up with another beneficiary then their rules says we can't keep our individual benefits, but a lesser couples rate.

        If I hook up with a worker I will loose everything from supplements to my entire benefit depending on their income, ie they would be expected to totally support me.

        Now, how can it not be possible to change that bit of legislation overnight? Because it's got nothing to do with their system not designed for it, in those examples there the person continues getting their core benefit as an individual. Supplements would need reassessing, but as individuals we have to do that all the time anyway.

        Absolutely no change to their computer system or paperwork is required, just the legislation. But the reason they won't is because it will result in a slight increase in payments and that's more than likely why it ain't happening. Anything to avoid giving beneficiaries a cent more than we can get away with.

        So yes, easy to take aim at politicians and public servants.

        • Nordy 9.2.1.1

          Suffice to say you seem to have no understanding of how large integrated computer systems work, or how the benefit system works, if you think 'small' changes can be made to a complex system without reference (for example) to any unintended consequences.

          Those things need to be thought through and consideration given to the policy implications of any flow-on effects (and the cost).

          Unpicking a large, complex and cumbersome system based on many years of policy fiddling/changes (by many governments) does not happen overnight. If it did you would have seen it happen.

          I agree, anyone can take aim at politicians (and public servants). However, what is more useful is informed debate.

          • greywarshark 9.2.1.1.1

            What you are saying Nordy is that the systems that the public have to deal with are large, unwieldy and unresponsive to requirements for change and more efficiency and effectiveness ie they are not fit for purpose and neither are the departments/agencies that operate them.

            Exactly the reason that we were told that they needed to be introduced, at great cost.

            Scrap the lot on a plan that takes about five years so using them for their current period but not replacing them when they are no longer supported and being scrapped.

            • Nordy 9.2.1.1.1.1

              No, but I understand your frustration.

              Being in government is actually quite hard. It is where politicians realise very quickly how complex the government actual is and that the reforms of the 80s actually reduced the ability of both government and public servants to make significant change (i.e. in a different direction), quickly.

              They also realise very quickly the cost of making significant change and how hard it is to convince people (voters) to spend the money necessary to make that change.

              It's called the real world for a reason.

              That is not to say it cannot (and does not need) to occur. However, we all need to remind ourselves of how difficult that is and therefore support those politicians and governments who actually want to make change but need our support to do so.

          • weka 9.2.1.1.2

            Leaving aside the increase in the budget, what are the computer tech or other systems that make individualising benefits hard? I can't see the computer system being a problem. All beneficiaries become single for the purposes of the system. Like Kay, the impediments I see are budgetary and ideological.

            The thing that gets me is that Sepuloni didn't even go for the low hanging fruit. WEAG suggested changing the name of the old sickness benefit,

            Consider changing the name of Jobseeker Support – Health Condition or Disability to better reflect people’s needs (for example, Health Support).

            My guess is that Labour won't do this because it recreates the distinction between those who are well on the dole and those who aren't and this causes problems for the work will save us philosophy. I'm sure there are some system tweaks that would be needed (new letter head type stuff), but they changed the name of other core benefits so I don't see this as a big hurdle. But Labour see work as god, and the whole point of subsuming sickness benefit into the dole was to make sure we didn't have too many malingerers. Remember that was a time when people were advocating that work would make people well.

            It's ableist af, and the big thing that stands out for me in this policy announcement is the complete lack of any mention of disabled people who can't work. Either Labour don't know how to address that, or they won't for ideological reasons. Either way, it's discriminatory and fucked up. Help for those that can work, those that can't can stay poor.

            The other point here re systems is that the Bennett reforms happened. If the systems are as unwieldy as you say, how was that possible?

        • Chris 9.2.1.2

          "But the reason they won't is because it will result in a slight increase in payments and that's more than likely why it ain't happening. Anything to avoid giving beneficiaries a cent more than we can get away with."

          The cost of individualising benefits isn't insignificant because doing that potentially opens the gate for spouses of anyone on a high income to receive a benefit in their own right.

          The relationship status / so-called benefit fraud issue is a major problem where people who are not in relationships end up with large overpayments or criminal convictions when they shouldn't. Removing the impossible task of assessing relationship status needs to be the focus of policy makers when looking at individualising benefits.

          The problem, though, is either the need to get around or making palatable the idea of paying a benefit to those who don't need it. Individualising benefits necessarily does this.

          With this in mind a first step could be to individualise benefits (therefore remove the need to assess relationship status) for people who are not legally married or in a civil union. The legislation could be made to reflect recognising only relationships where the individuals have taken the step of having the relationship recognised in this way. This wouldn't be perfect and other issues could potentially arise, but at least it would give us the opportunity to see if the sky falls before decisions are made to extend things further.

          • weka 9.2.1.2.1

            individualise all benefits, and require those people who are legally married/civil union to declare spouse's income/assets?

    • Kay – just answering the 0800 WINZ number in less than 25 minutes would be a great start. And then after promising to ring the caller back and it never happens – usually after a request for an SNG.

    • mickysavage 9.4

      And their track record in the last opposition isn't one to be proud of, IIRC at one point siding with the Nats on one area of welfare reform (correct me if I'm mistaken there). Sepaloni as opposition spokesperson was absolutely pathetic and her disdain for beneficiaries was clear to us even then. You'll also note her neo-lib obsession with work work work.

      I have to disagree with you here. I have had dealings with all of the Auckland MPs over the years. Carmel's problem is not that she does not want to enact meaningful change, just that because of the existing conditions she is unable to do this right now.

      There are many people out west willing to die in a ditch for her because she actually wants the best for ordinary people.

  10. Stuart Munro 10

    Well, for my part I shall be grateful for small mercies in this policy area, and hope for further progress.

    But of course sans the asset thefts and the widespread and illegal use of cheap unskilled foreign labour I should never have had to deal with Winz, being skilled, qualified, and experienced in a sector that perennially claims funding to amend so-called "skill shortages".

    There are layers of policy dysfunction of Shrekian proportions still waiting to be remedied.

  11. Patricia Bremner 11

    I remember Jacinda Ardern's frustration when she began the winter warmth payment. She was told they could not do it for the period she wanted, so it was part of the winter and the whole period following that, and was set up so it could be added to in an emergency, separate from the benefit.

    We got the double payment promptly because of that when covid struck.

    You Kay, would be well advised to vote Green to assist getting them over the 5%.

    This Government is not the previous Labour Government, and they will have a greater chance to make changes in the next term, as they have gained political capital which will assist in doing that.

    They have said they will enact the WEAG report.

  12. Corey Humm 12

    Let’s keep them eating cake.

    Increasing the amount a beneficiary can earn in part time employment during an unemployment crisis when there's fewer and fewer jobs on the market everyday and any new jobs will go to the newly unemployed, wow thank you for your ghost jobs and ghost money. BUT guys you can train and upskill so you can either be too qualified or as qualified as 700 other people going for the job your applying for whoopee

    Nothing here for disabled people. Nothing at all. It's still the 90s style make you competitive for the job market but this time the jobs are gone and they are never coming back.

    Anyone who wants to know where labour stands on welfare reform just has to look at the date the covid benifit rates, Winter energy payment ended : two weeks after the originally intended election date, now two weeks before… They were gonna throw everyone to the wolves and wash their hands of it till the next election cycle.

    Real reform would be making those covid benifit rates the normal benifit rate for the unemployed or at the very least mentally unwell. The jobs aren't coming back. It'll be great to have a lot of highly qualified unemployed people tho. Look how quickly they moved to reform welfare access and $ rates temporarily before an election and tell me it's not possible.

    The jobs are gone, suicide rates among Beneficiaries and newly unemployed people once covid rates end two weeks before the election no less are going to sky rocket, crime will skyrocket , poverty will skyrocket and the labour party will smile and talk about kindness, but hey speaking of kindness we’ve made the environment nicer so the staff will smile and be kind while refusing you entitlements.

    This kind of inaction is why the labour party was firsr elected due to the tinkering and failure of the united reform coalition post great depression now labour are the united reform coalition.

    Lets keep eating cake. I’ll vote red/green but this is yuck.

  13. Ad 13

    The last 6 months have seen the most generous social welfare payments in thirty years.

    Keep up the good work team.

    • Sabine 13.1

      Nope, the last 6 month have seen a correct redistribution of taxes collected by the working class of this country – namely some going back to hte working class so as to stay at home at home D – which if you were condemned to it would have the government pay your living costs. So honestly they did fuck all, they just gave us enough to not starve while being locked up at home.

      Btw, without the working class providing these taxes, the government would have had shit all to give a way cause the very rich ones in this country, be it individuals or corporate don't pay taxes for the most part.

      And again, consider that Grant Roberston gets to brag about an underspend in 'wage subsidy'. Now this is not because there is no need for it, this is because a business would have to have a loss of 40% to actually qualify.

      keep up the good work, Yeah, Right Tui.

    • Incognito 13.2

      Ssshhhhhh, Ad, some here might take you for a Labour man and that would not fit with their mental picture of you 😉

    • weka 13.3

      "The last 6 months have seen the most generous social welfare payments in thirty years."

      That's not actually saying much though is it.

  14. Sabine 14

    and to all those that say shit takes time, and the computer system, and shit takes time.

    The easiest way for the labour party to do right by beneficiaries would have been to simply increase the benefits to at least the median cost of a rental . Some 400 odd $.

    And they could not be fucking asked doing that. Not even a global pandemic that kills jobs faster then cancer kills people could them to get to increase the base benefits of people to something akin of 'livable'

    Nope, lets re-educate people to a job that does not exist, that many have no chance in getting even with the 're-education and watch them die on the benefit or maybe sell ass for a while, or maybe peddle some drugs, or or or or

    cause Labour can't be fucked doing the right thing.

  15. Maurice 15

    Very shortly after persons begin to be paid at a rate that makes them think they are 'rich pricks' they begin to think like rick pricks!

    Back Bencher salary $160,000 PLUS expenses and fat super scheme …. begins to sound like being very close to becoming rich pricks to me …..

    If they can do it – why can all the other beneficiaries not? They only need to be elected – or selected for a good position on the Party Lists ……

    The self-entitled arrogance of our political class is often grossly misunderestimated

    • Incognito 15.1

      The self-entitlement and arrogance of some politicians has nothing to do with their pay as MPs. There are heaps more people who are paid more than MPs and who are not self-entitled arrogant ‘rich pricks’. How is this constructive contribution to the OP?

      • greywarshark 15.1.1

        It's generalisation of course, but you feel the pay-out rates to the poor would move up faster if pollies had to live on what is approved as the sum, whether it is sufficient or not. And when you are on the benefit and look at how it is 'administered' you get the feeling that you are not regarded as a respected person at all. You receive little assistance to advance yourself, and the PTB want to take all from you as soon as you can earn sixpence. And how far does sixpence go these days!

        Actually decades ago a few National women MPs had a go at living on it but taking a brief break on it isn't grinding along day to day, and coping with all the inconvenience and periods of unhappiness. I fear that they didn't put their hearts into the experiment, perhaps because they haven't got one anyway.

  16. Barfly 16

    I have had a play with the accommodation supplement calculator and is does appear that the accommodation supplement is unaffected by additional earnings ! smiley

    • greywarshark 16.1

      Good if that is true. Can't quite believe but hope.

      • Barfly 16.1.1

        https://check.msd.govt.nz/

        Have a play with it – lifting earning does not generally reduce (until I imagine a very high level)

        • Chris 16.1.1.1

          If you're receiving a main benefit income does not affect the accommodation supplement. It's when income reaches a point that knocks the last dollar of the main benefit away that the accommodation supplement goes. It's at that point a person becomes a 'non-beneficiary' and the accommodation supplement begins to be calculated on a graduated basis according to income.

    • Patricia Bremner 16.2

      Pleased for you Barfly.

      • Barfly 16.2.1

        Well I have been doing some voluntary work for a not for profit sporting club where they have been charging for my coaching – I couldn't handle the stress of having to deal with MSW and IRD so I have been happy enough giving it away to benefit a sport and a club that I love – to be able to keep a significant portion of it is sort of tempting I guess.

        • Patricia Bremner 16.2.1.1

          That is excellent. There is a lot of truth in "work in an area you love for free" to find your niche, a friend worked for free as a teacher aide, and staff helped her train to become permanently trained and paid for her efforts. (some years back) She said it helped her mental health, having the work and companionship to look forward to, paid or not.

  17. Richard@Down South 17

    This is, while a good start, at best, is only a start

  18. KSaysHi 18

    NZ has had a two tier welfare system since the introduction of TAS in 2007, with workers/those with mild disability costs under the threshold vs severely disabled.

    Severely disabled (or maybe that should be expensive disabled?) recieve 30% of their disability costs over the DA limit, minus a threshold*… without any attempt to remove TAS there is a clear bias to supporting able workers in our welfare system. Working doesn't make it easier because they deduct the gross amount earned.

    State housing isn't much better. Those costly disabled are expected to pay for their additional costs out of the same money that others in the same type of housing have as disposable income.

    ==

    * This calculation changes once those additional disability costs are over 1/3 of their core benefit where upon there is an immediate increase although it still fails to meet these costs.

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