Welfare reforms to help children

OPINION – Lindsay Mitchell – NZ Herald 5 March 2012
…The new policy of requiring a mother to be available for part-time work when an additional child turns one represents the first attempt by a New Zealand government to stop beneficiaries exploiting the DPB (and other main benefits). Each year around 5,000 children are added. At any given time this results in almost a quarter of the DPB population having had extra children on welfare.

In 2006 deputy chairman of the NZ Medical Association Don Simmers told a conference that too many women were contemplating pregnancy on a benefit. More recently I spoke with the head of an organisation working with beneficiary families who was in no doubt that women plan a pregnancy as the prospect of pressure to work looms (there was a work-testing regime in place in the late 1990s). She believes the new policy will make a difference.

Some American states attempted to deal with the same problem by introducing ‘family caps’ which limited cash assistance to a fixed number of children and no more. The results were mixed and such a move here would be met with objections about depriving additional children, especially from the Child Poverty Action Group.

….Children who spend many years on the DPB generally have much poorer outcomes. This is well-documented. To knowingly exacerbate this situation by adding more children to a workless household can’t be defended at any level. In the interests of children the government is entirely justified in trying to break this habit.


2 comments for “Welfare reforms to help children

  1. Elizabeth
    4 March 2012 at 1:48 pm

    While I have, in theory, nothing against clamping down on those who abuse the system…what about those of us who, through no fault of our own, end up on the DPB? We are getting punished along with everyone else. I had no desire to live on the DPB yet had no choice when my family life fell apart and now I have so many issues with my situation there is no hope of me finding a job. Now this may change in the future and I will certainly go out looking for work, but right now I do not have enough to pay my bills and nobody seems to care that my children are suffering and lacking in their basic needs.

  2. diana
    5 March 2012 at 8:00 pm

    I have never been a fan of the empty home/key latch child as I do no think that is of benefit to the child/teen. However I do agree that the government needs to clamp down on the abuse of DPB and this might best be done by refusing benefit to non married and particularly to those who fail to name the father for support.

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