July 15, 2013
New welfare reforms kick in
Life just got more precarious for tens of thousands of Maori beneficiaries, with the introduction of new welfare rules.
Social Development Minister, Paula Bennett, says her reforms, which get rid of domestic purposes, unemployment and sickness benefits, have a much stronger work focus.
People can have their benefits stopped for a range of infringements, including failing drug tests, turning down job offers or failing to ensure their children attend school or early childhood education.
Sarah Thompson from Auckland Action Against Poverty says the justification is that it’s better to work than not to work, but that is not always appropriate.
"If the Government was really interested in getting people into work it would be investing in a decent job creation programme so those that are well are able to move into work. But for other people, those who perhaps are looking after children, that is work, it is important work, and people who are unwell or on an invalids benefit, they shouldn’t be forced to take low paid insecure jobs," she says.
Ms Thompson says because the private sector that brokers the scheme are paid on results, beneficiaries will be forced into unsuitable jobs that leave them worse off.