Reviews, critiques and submissions relating to the WWG
The Welfare Working Group (WWG) was established by Cabinet to undertake an expansive and fundamental review of New Zealand’s welfare system. According to the website, the Group’s primary task is to identify how to reduce long-term welfare dependency.
Child Poverty Action Group is dismayed that report from the WWG contains recommendations that will only add to New Zealand’s already high child poverty rates. The last two decades have seen a gradual erosion of the income support provisions for children. The reduction of support for children has not reduced child poverty. On the contrary, it has increased it.
The tightening of support for families outlined by the WWG ignores the complexities of people’s lives and their relationship to the current labour market. The data very clearly shows that beneficiaries including sole parents will take up paid work when it is available.
This briefing paper reviews Chapter 7 of the Welfare Working Group's Final Report pertaining to the wellbeing of children. It observes that the Chapter has little to say about improving children's wellbeing, but is more concerned with monitoring and sanctioning their parents. More broadly, the Briefing argues that ‘the relentless pursuit of work’ is not a suitable purpose for the social assistance system, and that it should instead be focused on meeting the needs of children and reducing poverty.
In New Zealand, paid work has become the overarching ‘principle’ of reform, with those out of paid work, regardless of the reason, shamed and blamed as a welfare dependency problem. By Susan St John.
This WWG presents a range of options to reduce long-term benefit dependency. Yet it fails to present any evidence that ‘long-term benefit dependency’ is an issue on the scale the WWG presupposes.
The current system needs radical change. It is based on the model of two-parent families, with one parent in work and the other, presumed to be the mother, at home to look after the children; where something akin to full employment is the norm, and there are sufficient publicly supplied goods and services to minimise the impact of temporary reductions in income. Almost none of these conditions apply in the 21st century.