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Welfare Working Group Survey

Written By: - Date published: 7:35 am, August 26th, 2010 - 63 comments
Categories: benefits, welfare - Tags: ,

National know the first rule of government: never have an enquiry unless you know what it will say.  The latest “Working Group” is the one on Welfare.

Paula Rebstock’s team include a couple of medical professionals who specialise in brain injuries, a couple of private sector providers of welfare-to-work programs with a vested interest in privatising our welfare system and an ACT ex-president.  And they want your feedback.

The paper is here.  Read it, and tell them what you think of the welfare system and their proposals.

  • Tell them about how a civilised society has safety nets; how children needs parents, rather living in a creche whilst they work; how bad things happen to good people and they need a hand-up to get back to work, not threats and ‘incentives’.
  • Insurance-based welfare is unnecessary bureaucracy that always needs backing by the state ultimately anyway.
  • The DPB is for the children, not the single parents, who never breed for a living.
  • People on the invalid benefit are likely to stay on it – they were put on it because they were unlikely to be able to work again.
  • Yes, sickness beneficiaries need help getting back to work – but that will be achieved through added support (which will cost money in the short-term, but will probably still be worth it), not pushing them onto the unemployment benefit.
  • And most of all, you can’t force people into jobs when there aren’t any available.

But just make sure you tell them.

63 comments on “Welfare Working Group Survey”

  1. Bored 1

    I have harped on recently about legitimacy being key to the acceptance of government process and law. This assembly of well healed conventional wisdom is a classic example of why the whole system is regarded widely by the populace as a real sham. Nice academic types, “entrepeneurs” (whatever that means) etc, with the single unique commonality….they are not people who depend on welfare or have continuous direct involvement with those affected. What a complete waste of time.

  2. hellonearthis 2

    I found this question a bit strange.
    12. Does the benefit system do enough to encourage personal responsibility?
    personal responsibility, for what…

    • B 2.1

      Yes -very revealing question I thought. Its obvious the ideology is that the unemployed are bludging off the system NOT because there are no jobs.. or childcare is to expensive.. or they are sick or disabled… or they cant afford the training required to get a decent job… but because have no WORK ETHIC!

      • ZB 2.1.1

        Its classic fascism, might is right. It costs money to cure people, if cost money to place
        people in work if they have social, mental and physical disabilities, it costs money – get it.

        It doesn’t cost money to impune the sick as more than just unhealthy physically – personal
        responsibility – it saves money to beat someone up and turn them into a street bum.

        We lack a cogent civil rights law, or a process to implement such rights, when the
        sick can be so openly maligned – all to save money for the mighty – keep them in
        unstable jobs churning people in and out of welfare – who are sick – without their consent or
        input. A work camp ideal the extreme right demanded – invented – for minorities for the good
        of the country, the individuals involved (without their say), for productivity, for finance, for
        the mighty.

        Ask them not what the poor, the meek, the powerless can do for them, ask what
        THEY HAVE done for us all. Debt, growing inequality, destitution, poverty,
        child intergenerational dependancy, malise, in a time of plenty! in a time of
        huge technological advance, how can so many be so hard up?

        Simple, these people are evil. Bennett reluctance to engage with real benefitaries
        is a breach of fundamental human rights in my opinion.

    • marsman 2.2

      ‘personal responsibility’ was a Shipley catchphrase when unemployment had risen hugely thanks to her and Bill English’s ineptitude in their jobs and their mismanagement of the economy. ‘personal responsibility’ does not apply to troughers like them though,it’s only for their underlings.
      ‘trickle down effect’ was another one of the catchphrases during that awful time.

  3. Lats 3

    The DPB is for the children, not the single parents, who never breed for a living.

    Sorry, but I happen to know someone who did exactly this, she didn’t want to go back to work, so got herself knocked up instead. She may be in the minority, but saying it never happens simply isn’t true.

    • Bunji 3.1

      The DPB is hardly a living though (child+DPB = poorer than not having the child). There are a lot easier options than having children. Unless you’ve already got one/some, in which case our work/benefit laws may (particularly as proposed) force you into low-income work so you can pay it all out again in childcare. I’d say that’s a problem with the system, not with the parents.
      I doubt she had the child for the money, indeed you say it was to avoid having to go back to work. Given the work that’s involved in child-rearing, I’d say it was because society had given her very bad options.

      • Lats 3.1.1

        I guess there is a distinction between having children solely for the DPB income and having children to avoid working, but in this particular case society hadn’t given her bad options. She came from a stable, loving family background, she did well at school and had good support networks around her. She was just a lazy individual who didn’t want to work. It happens.

        I fully support the welfare state, but there will always be a few who choose to abuse the system. Thats the price we as taxpayers have to pay in order for the system to help those who really need it. If we make benefits so hard to get that there can be no abuse of the system at all I suspect a lot of deserving beneficiaries will also miss out. But then I also suspect that the Nats don’t care greatly for these people anyway.

        • B

          “A lazy individual”? You obviously have no concept of the huge amount of work it takes to raise a child. With a job at least you get to go home at the end of the day…

          • Lats

            Believe me, if you knew the person concerned you’d have no problem at all labelling her lazy. I’m not going in to any greater detail, so you’ll just have to take my word for this.

      • KJT 3.1.2

        Kids do have kids for the money.
        It seems like a good option when your friends who have left school are working at Mcjobs which barely cover the costs of getting to them. $600 dollars a week for having babies sounds good when your mates are getting $300 or less a week in the part time jobs available. If they are not unemployed. .
        The answer though is not to punish the kids by cutting DPB, but to give them real jobs and options to aim for.

        • ZB

          People have a fundamental right to have children. If it pays more that’s not their
          fault, its the market that is failing to provide worthwhile jobs and distractions.
          But even then, they will have babies.

          The problem is technology is doing away with more jobs than can be created.
          National have no idea how to move forwward – or don’t like the idea.
          That people with money will trade with each other, so providing people
          with income support means they will start to trade, and so create demand,
          and so create work.
          But the nasty nats don’t like the idea because people will create new forms
          of commerce and their backers have spent so much effort corning the markets
          for the themselves, the few.

          • Bored Academic

            First my apologies to “Bored” as I used his name not realising it already existed.

            “People have a fundamental right to have children” Crap if this is stated as an unqualified proposition. People have an obligation to make sensible choices and do not as seems to be implied by ZB any right to have their “fundamental right” supported by everyone else.

            Unfortunately things are not this simple of course and designing welfare systems that provide socially necessary support while quite rightly discouraging its abuse is difficult if not impossible. Some degree of make do is inevitable and usually it is necessary to put up with some small percentage of abuse as it is neither possible or cost-effective to do much about it-the same effort put into catching tax evasion would pay much better.

            And as it is clear people will take jobs if they are there the answer to many welfare problems is blindingly obvious

            • ZB

              People have a fundamental human right to have children – however ill advised.

            • Vicky32

              “”People have a fundamental right to have children’ Crap if this is stated as an unqualified proposition. People have an obligation to make sensible choices and do not as seems to be implied by ZB any right to have their “fundamental right’ supported by everyone else.”
              No one has children expected them to be “supported” by the benefit system! (Despite what Lats believes..) On what basis would you prevent people having children? Low IQ? Race? A family history of cardiovascular problems? Who gave you the right to judge?

              • Lats

                Firstly, I disgree with Bored Academic. While in an ideal world everyone would make sensible choices, making those choices is predicated on having both sound information and good enough judgement to do so. Sadly in not all situations is this the case. And to be honest, I am of the opinion that it is a fundamental human right to be able to reproduce if you are able to. It is an unacceptable path to tread down to start trying to discriminate against certain people, no matter how noble your motivations.

                However, on having a family as a lifestyle option, rather than take my anecdotal evidence, lets treat it as an economics problem, lets run some numbers. I’ll base my figures on a fictitious solo parent family with two children living in Christchurch.

                Firstly, from the Ministry of Social Development website:
                A sole parent, with two dependent children, renting in the South Island on DPB could receive approximately $500 per week including Accommodation Supplement and other allowances

                If said solo parent went to work, and had the misfortune to end up with a minimum wage job ($12.75 per hour at present) their weekly income is $510. They may also be eligible for an accomodation supplement. Using the calculator on the WorkingForFamilies.govt.nz site a solo parent living in Chch with two dependents and about $5000 of assets (a cheap car and a few basics) paying $320 per week to rent a home could expect an allowance of $113 per week.

                Assuming the parent in the above scenario had to pay childcare of $30 per day for one of the children (from the CPIT website), and the other was school age (a reasonable scenario I’d think) then said parent is actually about $35 per week worse off for working. This doesn’t include extra costs involved in running a vehicle daily. It makes strong economic sense not to work in this scenario. If both children are under school age, then the parent has to be earning an extra $185 per week just to cover the costs of child care.

                So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone if the odd person decided that staying at home on a benefit and devoting their time to raising their children was more appealing than working on a minimum wage job. It simply isn’t worth working until both kids are at school.

        • Vicky32

          $600.00 a week? Ma dai! How many kids would you have to have to get that? What a fantasy. On a DPB plus one (kid) I got maybe $250.00?
          You’re right though that the answer is to provide real jobs… I met a woman at JB Hi Fi in Queen Street yesterday, and asked her if what the Union was saying about her workplace is true. Yes, it is. For 3 years she’s been making $13.20 an hour. She manages by living with her parents, but is unable to move out as she would like to be able to do.

          • KJT

            I’ve listened to the kids in a high school classroom make exactly this comparison and how they can work the system to get that amount.
            The point is that is the best they think is open to them.

            We have a hard job teaching them otherwise. As they look at their contemporaries that have left school to unemployment, crime or Mcjobs.

            The challenge to the rest of us is to improve our society and their prospects so they have something better to aim for.

            I’ve noticed that, with many, having a child focuses them on the need to do better for the child’s sake.

    • Graham 3.2

      er Lats, I think it’s referring to the children even if occasionally a parent may ‘breed for a living’, the child should not be penalised by the state, ie it was not the child’s decision.

      • Lats 3.2.1

        Absolutely agree. I was merely pointing out that saying this never happens isn’t correct.

        • felix

          lolwut? You agree with Graham’s interpretation (that children never breed for living) and then go right on to say that it does happen?

          I think you need to read a little closer.

    • bbfloyd 3.3

      which, of course gives people like you the excuse needed to smear the vast majority of solo parents. this sort of narrow thinking is going to achieve nothing more than help provide our developing incarceration industry with guaranteed future income.

      • Lats 3.3.1

        Dude, what have I done to deserve this abuse? If you read my comments above you’ll note that I am fully supportive of the welfare system. But just because I support Labour doesn’t mean I have to blindly agree with everything they propose. Similarly, if the Nats ever come up with a good idea I’ll give them due recognition. Your level of hostility frankly seems to be quite unwarranted.

        • bbfloyd

          qualifying your support for social welfare by continuing to point up isolated cases of abuse/personal failings is an old trick. if you open both eyes, you may find that was an attempt to highlight a common practice amongst the apologists for present government practices. try not to take every point made to you personally.

          • Lats

            which, of course gives people like you the excuse needed to smear the vast majority of solo parents.

            OK, I can see why I shouldn’t take this as a point made to me personally (/sarcasm)

            Seriously though, where in my comments did it sound like I was attacking beneficiaries? I was bending over backwards to say we ought to put up with the occasional bit of benefit abuse, which if you open both eyes does occur, so as not to disadvantage those who truly need welfare assistance. I know I’ve disagreed with you on the alcohol debate, but mate, we’re on the same page here.

    • Vicky32 3.4

      Or so you say, Lats. I have been on the DPB, I have known thousands of women on the DPB over the years, and I have never known anyone who “got herself knocked up” to avoid work. How did she do that anyway – with a turkey baster? 🙂
      Methinks you’re a fantasist.

      • Lats 3.4.1

        Methinks you’re a fantasist.

        Well, you can think that if you like, but it isn’t true. She got pregnant the usual way, by her then boyfriend (they’re married now.) And she was quite open in admitting her reasons, her oldest was getting to the age where she would soon be able to go to preschool, so rather than start looking for part-time work she decided to have a second child. She is now working again, but at the time simply did not wish to work. I don’t know why it is some people are finding this so difficult to understand. Does it simply disagree with their rose-tinted view of life?

        • The Voice of Reason

          So what did the boyfriend, now husband, think of this situation?

          • Lats

            Well, he stayed around long enough to marry her, so I guess he wasn’t too upset, although I do remember him grumbling a bit at the time. But perhaps others here can tell you how he felt. They seem to know more about this situation, and this person they have never met, than I do.

        • Vicky32

          “Does it simply disagree with their rose-tinted view of life?”
          No, it disagrees with my experience of life, and my knowledge of human nature and why people have children!
          Has it occurred to you that she might have been covering up something she thought (or thought you would might think) to be more discreditable? Some options : “Oops, I made a mistake”, “I made a mistake with my contraception”, “The boyfriend and I decided to have another child and then when it was too late, he changed his mind and dropped me in it”…
          If she got pregnant with a boyfriend she already had (and didn’t just have a one-nighter with some guy at the pub, as The Poison Dwarf claimed to believe back in the 90s single mothers did), then why do you say “got herself knocked up”? Didn’t the “boyfriend” (why the quote marks?” have any say in the matter? Did she rape him? Tee hee… 😀
          If she had a\ pre-school child to look after, why on earth should she have to “go back to work?” Married “ladies” don’t have to, although many do..

          • Lats

            Yep, may be underlying reasons, I admit that. But personally I’d be more ashamed to admit I simply didn’t want to work than that a mistake had happened. It may be that she has issues with mental health, self esteem, or any number of other possibilities, but I was taking her on face value when she cited preferring to have a 2nd child over finding work. Not my fault if she lied to me.

            As for the married/boyfriend stuff, let me clear up a couple of misunderstandings. They now have 2 kids together, oldest about to go to school (next year), got married this year, so at the time of conception of #2 they were unmarried. And I don’t recall inserting any quote marks, I’ve looked back and don’t see any…

            • Bunji

              You’re regretting starting this now aren’t you? 🙂

              • Lats

                No, but I don’t understand why so many people don’t believe me. I’m not lying, and I do kind of resent the implication from some that I am. Just because a particular event doesn’t match ones particular life experience doesn’t mean it never happens. I’ve never skydived or bunji-jumped, but I still know that some people do these things. 🙂

            • Vicky32

              They were there, those quote marks – as if you wanted to imply that her boyfriend was a one-night stand she met down the boozer… I copied-and-pasted when I quoted you, so I suggest you have another look for those pesky quotes!

              • Lats

                Nope, still not there. Why don’t you look and see since you’re doing the accusing? Innocent until proven guilty….

        • Rosy

          Lats is right, I also know someone who had another child as a ‘safety net’ last time bene-bashing was popular. Although she’s a good mum, she is probably not someone who can easily go out and get a job. And I’m happy we have the DPB, unemployment, sickness, invalids benefits, ACC and superannuation (with that list I’m thinking a universal living allowance might be a good idea), I’m just not going say it doesn’t happen in rare situations. But this is many times more preferable IMO than having kids (or disabled and elderly people) miss out on a half-decent life.

          And on another point – “Tell them about how a civilised society has safety nets; how children needs parents, rather living in a creche whilst they work”
          Why? There is nothing wrong with good childcare in a well-run creche. For some kids it might even be preferable to what they get at home. There are also many women who cannot cope with the social isolation that is modern parenthood in modern suburbia.

          The big problem is compelling people to work without understanding their individual situations, providing support to overcome these situations, education and training, decent childcare etc… or providing for them when they simply cannot work and then going on about personal responsibility when there are no jobs or support, education and training, decent childcare etc…

          • B

            If people do in fact have children for the dpb money or to avoid work(!)(which i am highly sceptical of having come across many many beneficiaries none of which have done this) then forcing parents into work once their child is six would surely be an incentive to have another child in order to get another 6 years respite? Bennett doesnt follow her own logic.

            • Rosy

              Absolutely B. Especially those who are really not confident about their ability to work

            • Draco T Bastard

              (which i am highly sceptical of having come across many many beneficiaries none of which have done this)

              My brother did for awhile. Of course, he was actually doing a few cash jobs here and there and wasn’t really avoiding work merely getting the government subsidy and not paying taxes. He’s been in the same PAYE job for better than 10 years now.

              Bennett doesnt follow her own logic.

              The NACTs haven’t shown any propensity to understand logic.

              • B

                Your brother had a child for the sole purpose of collecting the DPB?

                • Draco T Bastard

                  Well, technically he had 2 although I’m sure that the second was an accident. His SO ATT was on the DPB and he was on the UB.

                  • B

                    So benefit fraud then? Thats a different scenario isnt it since if two people are collecting a benefit then the money would be an incentive. But having a child to collect the dpb legitimately is not worth the money. It pays less than the cost of living in many cases so if you are intelligent enough to add its not hard to work out you’re better off without kids even on the minimum wage.

                    Sorry if thats not what u were meaning-I have no idea what SO ATT is.

            • Lats

              I totally agree with you B. Folk here seem to have gotten so excited about making excuses for this person they have never met that the haven’t noticed that the whole point of my posts here was to support the welfare system. I’m glad the DPB, unemployment, invalids, sickness, etc benefits are available. I have in the past had to use the unemployment benefit myself for a short while, and I’m bloody glad it was there for me as a fall-back option. I’m certainly NOT beneficiary bashing, that was not my intention, although one or two have perhaps taken it that way. I think it is our responsibility as a society to look after those in difficult circumstances, and I am glad my taxes contribute towards this. One of the worst policies Key and his cronies introduced was the tax cut, it will make sod all difference to the average worker, and the lost income from the Govt coffers could have done so much good.

          • Bunji

            There is nothing wrong with good early child education in a well-run (if now under-funded and more expensive) creche, my 2 year old swears by it.

            But I was more meaning forcing people to work, particularly long hours, and often only to cover the costs of childcare. Babies/young children need to bond with their parents, not have a succession of teachers/carers in a creche for 40+ hours/week There’s no point having a child if you’re not going to see it during his/her waking hours. The planet doesn’t need it and it’s giving you nowt.

            I think we’re probably actually in agreement really…

  4. NickS 4

    Paula Rebstock’s team include a couple of medical professionals who specialise in brain injuries, a couple of private sector providers of welfare-to-work programs with a vested interest in privatising our welfare system and an ACT ex-president.

    I guess all those experts the Ministry of Social Development (is meant to have) and the Universities contain don’t exist…

    There are some with research over-lapping social welfare issues, but primarily it’s staffed with non-experts and those with vested interests in other systems, on top of having advice from a former “expert” from a AUS libertarian think-tank, which is strangely socially conservative and pro-corporate welfare, the CIS.

  5. B 5

    Insurance based welfare favours the middle class who are in stable employment and results in widening the gender poverty gap because women spend more time out of the workforce. there is generally a two tier system with a pittance for those not in the workforce and therefore not contributing to the scheme. It increases inequality between rich and poor and between men and women.

  6. Chuck 6

    She was just a lazy individual who didn’t want to work. It happens.

    Depends on your perspective. I dont believe laziness exists. It’s just a coverall term for intangible/socially unpopular/considered trivial/unexamined influences. For example, having too much stuff you don’t need or want can make a person “lazy”. Things don’t just happen, there is always a cause.

    • Puddleglum 6.1

      Yes, calling someone “just lazy” is lazy thinking. Where does ‘laziness’ come from? A laziness lobe in the cortex? A ‘laziness’ gene? (Don’t get me started on ‘genes for’…).

      As Chuck says, there is always a cause and, frankly, that’s what people who are really interested in answers look for. “Just lazy”, stops that search in its tracks.

      • Lats 6.1.1

        So you’re saying I’m lazy for calling someone else lazy? Well that kinda makes you guilty of lazy thinking too… But if you really want I’ll rescind the lazy tag.

        Now let me see: while she was at home looking after her 2 kids she didn’t want to work, wouldn’t do any cleaning, couldn’t be bothered preparing decent meals for her kids (they routinely had potato chips for breakfast and lunch) would only have a shower every 7-10 days, didn’t change the sheets on the beds, didn’t do any dishes, wouldn’t do any laundry, sat on her bum all day and watched TV and ate cheese. Aside from serious mental health issues, the only other explanation I can come up with is terminal laziness.

        • Vicky32

          You seem to seriously hate this woman! Is she by chance, your ex?
          “Aside from serious mental health issues, the only other explanation I can come up with is terminal laziness.”
          Actually, serious mental health issues are much more likely than laziness! All the things you mention add up to severe depression to me. (Especially the shower bit, man that’s like a ruddy great siren going off!)
          I knew someone who died of severe depression – and I knew to take him aside and *try* (sadly futilely) to get him to seek help, when I noticed that he went days without shaving, something he had never done in his life before… When I was clearing out his place after his death, and saw the un-made bed, the unopened letters, the unsent Christmas presents he’d bought, the unopened ones he’d received – well, it just confirmed it. (When someone is suffering from clinical depression they just *cannot* care about things that seem very unimportant.

          • Lats

            Haha no not my ex at all. And I don’t hate her at all, she’s a friend of my wife, and quite a nice person. I simply don’t respect the way she chooses to live her life, although she has certainly improved a lot since she got married.

            • Zorr

              Who knew it.

              All a woman really needs is a good phallus in her life.

              • Rosy

                Sometimes people don’t choose to live their life, they don’t know how to choose. Life just happens if you’re the product of a dreadful, neglected childhood. Sometimes the overwhelming need to be loved drives events- hence early parenting, and also depression. And maybe, if they’re lucky they’ll fall into a loving relationship, rather than into one with some dropkick violent person who has issues of his/her own. Learning to make choices, rather than simply being overwhelmed by events is what it’s all about. Bene-bashing and isolation will only transfer this to another generation. Good, well-run creches, schools, after school care, interaction with parents, support, mixed neighbourhoods – anything to show kids and parents there are chioces is the way to go.

                • Lats

                  No, no neglect, no abuse, no poverty or hardship, a stable loving family life. I said this before. Cross that off your list of possible causes and move to the next one. 😉

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    Was the “stable loving family life” supportive or repressive? Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference from the outside.

                    • Lats

                      I dunno, as I said she’s a friend of my wife. I didn’t know her then. But to the best of my knowledge it was fine. I know you guys are all trying to find a reason for her apparently abnormal behavior, but surely not all things like this have to be rooted in abuse or mental illness. I suspect, although don’t know for certain, that she may actually have been a bit over parented and spoiled when growing up, such that she still expects others to do everything for her. Her siblings don’t seem to be quite as, err, maladjusted as she was/is. I don’t claim to be an expert on mental illness, but I don’t get the impression of depression from her. My ex-neighbour suffers from depression, and he actually seems depressed. Of course it may well manifest in different ways, and she may be putting on a brave face in public, but I would have thought that people like my wife who have known her for many years would have noticed symptoms of an illness like this before now.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      that she may actually have been a bit over parented and spoiled when growing up,

                      Ah, so likely to have been repressive. Not not so much outright abuse (it wouldn’t seem that way) but having her confidence whittled away one small bit at a time by people saying that she’s spoiled while having others do everything for her up to and including taking stuff off her that she was doing by herself just fine just needing a little bit of assistance.

                      Then you’d also need to look at how she was treated at school. Was she popular or ostracised/teased by the entire class?

                      Just a guess but I suspect she’s really self-effacing. I suspect that what you’ve put down to “terminal laziness” is more than likely to be terminal lack of self-confidence. She improved after getting married because doing so improved her self-image.

                      I know you guys are all trying to find a reason for her apparently abnormal behavior, but surely not all things like this have to be rooted in abuse or mental illness.

                      No, not all of it, but certainly most.

                  • Vicky32

                    Lats, you seem so sure about what’s going on in this woman’s life! How can you possibly have known?

                    • Lats

                      I could say the same about you. You don’t even know her but you sure are quick to make excuses for her behaviour. And I do actually talk to my wife about her friends, my friends, current events, etc. It’s not like I’m completely uninformed.

                    • Lats

                      Sorry Deb, didn’t mean to sound so nasty with that last comment. I am getting a bit irritated by everyone assuming they know so much about someone they have never met, and at the same time suggesting by proxy that I know so little. My sincerest apologies.

  7. Vicky32 7

    S’okay Lats, I didn’t take offence! 🙂

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