- Date published:
1:27 pm, November 23rd, 2020 - 21 comments
Categories: benefits, labour, welfare - Tags: emergency benefit, GMI, Guaranteed Minimum Income, migrants, ubi, unconditional basic income, universal basic income
Labour have decided that non-residents still in New Zealand who have a visitor, student or work visa will be eligible for the Emergency dole from December. The ODT reports,
The Government has extended an olive branch to thousands of desperate foreigners on temporary visas who can’t support themselves or return to their home countries.
From December 1, they will be able to apply for an emergency benefit, Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced today.
The Ministry of Social Development estimates about 5800 will receive the benefit out of about 267,000 temporary work, student and visitor visa holders currently in New Zealand.
This assistance – $250.74 a week for a single person, $428.06 for a couple, $375.17 for a sole parent – will be temporary and last until the end of February.
I see what you did there ODT, with the olive branch.
This is a very good move from Labour.
However non-residents will get the base benefit only, not the supplementaries that most beneficiaries rely on, for example Accommodation Supplement or emergency good grants.
Imagine the government thinking you can live on $250/wk just because you’re not a citizen/resident. I haven’t seen a rationale for that but am guessing it’s financial coercion to go pick seasonal vegetables and fruit. I guess this is considered a necessity because of the worker shortage now that we’re currently not allowing horticulture to import workers from countries with even worse work conditions than here. Rather than the government stepping up and working with industry to create proper jobs (the ones where people can earn enough to have a decent life). Killing two birds with one stone.
What this reminds me of is Gareth Morgan’s original UBI model from the Big Kahuna. His idea was to do away with welfare, and give everyone the dole with no strings attached. People who couldn’t live on the dole would work and earn extra money without financial penalties from the state. There would be no more extra assistance if you couldn’t get by, a kind of land or your feet and pull yourself up by your bootstraps UBI, designed by an economist who believed that without financial pressure people would be too lazy to work and presumably the economy would founder.
Too bad if there weren’t enough jobs, or enough hours that week, or you were sick, or needed to take time off to look after a child or any number of reasons why our large underclass, precariat workforce that is continually being forced to chase its tail might not have enough to pay the rent or feed themselves in any given week.
Of course Labour’s Emergency Benefit over the next three months will still have all the punitive rules attached to it that the dole does, including most of the ones they used last time they were in government along with most of the ones that Paula Bennett brought in during the long welfare bashing years of the FJK government.
So it’s not an unconditional basic income at all, but I think this is instructive on what a neoliberal UBI would probably look like. UBIs designed by economists are tools to manage the economy, they’re not primarily social security, and in the hands of the right and the centre, they’re not going to be good for people in need. Morgan was openly anti-welfare. TOP, who adopted his UBI model, have better intentions, but their most recent leader, Geoff Simmons, continued to express anti-welfare sentiment in election year. National are the leaders in welfare bashing and would jump at the chance of getting rid of WINZ. Anti-welfare motivation exists in varying degrees within Labour as well, who still appear to believe that work is the solution to need, and that sticks are at least as useful as carrots.
Best we stop calling for the end of welfare and replacing it with a UBI, and instead push for a Guaranteed Minimum Income for the people that need it, a UBI with welfare bolted on.
And while we still have the punitive welfare system that Labour have inherited but allegedly are going to remedy, in the interim Labour could mend WINZ so that the ability to treat beneficiaries as individuals and assess based on need is restored. That way, if you don’t have enough to eat you can buy food in any given week no matter the status of your visa or residency.