Wonder of wonders, the Nats’ benefits policy has an 11 page document attached to it. Oh, wait, it’s mostly just stats ripped from the MSD website and long-winded rewordings of the bullet-points, not actual detail of the Nats’ policy.
So, what have we got from the party that proclaims it wants more disciplined spending, less red-tape, and fewer bureaucrats? More spending, including an increase of more than 1% on the cost of the DPB from the higher start off point for abatements*. More red-tape with more assessments needed for Sickness Beneficiaries and greater oversight from MSD of doctors who provide medical certifies for those benefits, budget training for certain beneficiaries, new work requirements in certain circumstances for DPB, Sickness, and Invalids’ beneficiaries (which will, in turn, need exceptions in certain circumstances), and a more complex sanction process for unemployment beneficiaries who fail to look for work. More public servants to administer all of this; easily hundreds more. Most of this is tired old ideas that failed in the 1990s. So much for the public service cap. So much for National’s ambitious new vision.
All of this is silly solutions in search of a problem. Beneficiary numbers are falling, the cost of the system is falling, and the number of long-term beneficiaries is falling even faster. The DPB work requirements would not apply to the 60% of recipients caring for a child under 6, or the 20% already earning an income, or the 22% who state their child’s health is a barrier to work. The 29% who state their own health is a barrier to work might simply be shifted to the invalids’ benefit. And what of the few it does apply to? What if they can’t find work that neatly fits within school hours? Should they leave their children home alone or just keep attending taxpayer-funded training? There is no long-term DPB dependency problem: 64% of DPB recipients have been getting it less than four years and only 11% (that’s 10,000 parents) have had it for longer than 10 years (many of them will have children with severe health issues). This is not about solutions; it’s just beneficiary bashing to grab a few votes.
*(I’m in favour of that, but the issue is National’s inconsistency).