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Submission: Social Security Amendment Bill

Along with other children’s agencies, we are very concerned about the implications of this Bill on children and young people. We urge Committee members to carefully consider the impacts of this legislation on the most vulnerable children in the community, and to act in their best interests.

Download here: Submission: Social Security Amendment Bill (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) 

CPAG has also asked to speak to our submission in Wellington.

Along with other children’s agencies, we are very concerned about the implications of this Bill on children and young people. We urge Committee members to carefully consider the impacts of this legislation on the most vulnerable children in the community, and to act in their best interests.

Download here: Submission: Social Security Amendment Bill (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) 

CPAG has also asked to speak to oue submission in Wellington.

Summary:

CPAG submits that sole parents be able to access the new Sole Parent Support until such times as their youngest child leaves home or turns 18, whichever occurs first. Benefit data suggests that many parents of older children will move into paid work of their own accord if and when it becomes available, and that this ‘incentive’ is punitive and pointless.

CPAG submits that provisions requiring the mothers of one-year olds to be subject to work tests be deleted.


CPAG submits that reference to the spouses and partners of beneficiaries being subject to the same obligations as beneficiaries themselves be removed unless those partners are on a benefit in their own right.


CPAG submits that the range of pre-benefit activities be restricted to assessing benefit eligibility and providing assistance to jobseekers where required. It should NOT be extended in the case of sole parent applicants or couples with children.


CPAG submits that clauses extending the bar to full-time study to all those on jobseeker support be deleted. This flies in the face of any notion of investment and risks keeping disadvantaged New Zealanders in a cycle of poverty.


CPAG submits that the meaning of suitable employment be changed to read “suitable employment in relation to a person, means employment that the chief executive is satisfied is suitable for the person to undertake for a number of hours a week determined by the chief executive having regard to the employment required to satisfy the work test for that person considering the person’s individual circumstances and the needs of their children and whether the offer of employment is on terms and conditions no less favourable than those usually offered for the type of work in the region.”

CPAG further submits that the clause allowing for sanctions against sole parents who refuse suitable employment be deleted as this risks harming already vulnerable children. Children should not be punished for the labour market status of their parents.

CPAG submits that if work assessments are introduced they must be carried out by Work and Income or another government agency with no financial stake in moving people off benefits (ie they must not be used as a proxy quota system), they must be genuinely tied to assisting people to seek appropriate employment, and there must be an independent, easily accessible, speedy and robust appeal process with the power to make binding recommendations on Work and Income.


CPAG endorses the CTU submission that drug-testing only be introduced for safety-sensitive occupations (we agree that the current criteria are too loose), and that the first remedy for failing a drug test be counselling and rehabilitation. The proposal to use sanctions against sole parent beneficiaries should be removed.


CPAG submits that the obligation for beneficiary parents to send their children to early childhood care and education from age 3 to when they start school be deleted altogether until such times as easy local access to quality, affordable and culturally appropriate early childhood care and education facilities is available for all parents with children.