Paula Bennett’s 143-page second welfare changes bill is out – with a nasty added sting in the tail.
Anyone who refuses a ‘suitable’ job will be blocked from getting a benefit for 13 weeks. ‘Suitable’ means any work with 20-40 hours per week for the unemployed, or any work with 10-20 hours per week for sole parents with children aged 5-13 and sickness beneficiaries who aren’t capable of working fulltime.
Job’s on the other side of town and it’s impractical to get there? Don’t care, your children can starve.
One strike and you’re out – even murderers get 3 strikes…
Here – as in Britain, which is undergoing a similar ‘simplification’ of the benefit system – the framing is that welfare is a trap that people can’t get out of. As though poor quality housing, an inability to afford heating and having to carefully manage the weekly budget to afford any milk for the kids is somehow addictive. In Britain, the Tories are slowly managing to get that idea accepted, even as people say they want higher taxes rather than more cuts.
The enforced Early Childhood Education for beneficiaries (especially when ECE is scarce in low income areas, and usually not free as advertised), has provoked plenty of comment.
Tapu Misa has life on Planet Paula:
Doesn’t everybody know that when you get money from the state, you automatically lose the right to make decisions about your own children?
It stands to reason: if you’re too hopeless to work, you’re too hopeless to be trusted with the care of your own children.
Clearly, only ignorant and lazy people are unemployed.
It’s true that people who get Working For Families are also receiving money from the state, but they still have rights because people who do a minimum of 20 hours a week never neglect their children. It’s just common sense, isn’t it?
Andrew Cardow of Massey wonders how the party that cried ‘Nanny State’ could be so interfering with how you bring up your children – without even any good evidence that their solution will help.
Apparently efficient lightbulbs is insanity, but telling you how to raise your kids isn’t the Government invading the private lives of citizens at all…
But best was Toby Manhire who contrasted:
Fail to keep any preschool child aged 3 or over in certified education for at least 15 hours a week and your benefit could be cut by as much as half, comes the warning, part of a list of “social obligations”.
with Paula Bennett’s maiden speech to Parliament:
“we are pushed to increase women’s participation in the workforce, we need to ask who will be raising our next generation … I advocate for choice – for women to work part-time or full-time in paid work, or not at all, or to stay home and raise their children … A good government does not come into people’s homes and tell them how to raise their children.”
Compulsory vaccination? Drug-testing? Compulsory ECE? Does any of that mesh with this government’s rhetoric of a small state who keeps out of people’s lives? Doesn’t interfere with how they raise their children?
Apart from a cut of $8.53/week for widows, the only ‘savings’ will be from forcing people off the benefit and onto the streets by insisting they work ‘suitable’ jobs that may not be practical – as Kay Brereton Coordinator of the Wellington People’s Centre says: “It could be quite huge because I have seen people turning down jobs for really good reasons and having their benefit sanctioned as a result.”
As villifying as this package is, at least there aren’t the cuts that the UK are looking at – a benefit freeze because wages have been shrinking in real terms under their Tory government (like here).
But then this government seems to keep wanting to copy the UK Tories’ failed economic policies, so maybe we better watch out for ‘reform’ round 3…