Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Labour promoting welfare as a lifestyle option

“Labour is promoting welfare as a lifestyle option and will harm kids in benefit-dependent households,” says ACT’s Employment Spokesperson Nicole McKee.

“Many couples wait to start families in order to ensure they can afford to feed, clothe, house and support their children. Those couples who wait and plan are being forced to subsidise those whose lifestyle is dependent on welfare.

“If we are to reduce child poverty, we need to encourage beneficiaries to work and support their families. Welfare should be a hand up for those in genuine need, not a lifestyle choice.

“Last year, more than 6,000 children were added to an existing benefit. Treasury research shows children born onto a benefit stay there longest and are more likely to experience abuse, neglect, material hardship, poorer health and educational outcomes, and contact with the justice system.

“The last government introduced a requirement to return to part-time work when the youngest child turned five (later reduced to three). In the dying days of its term, Labour is doing away with this law.

“ACT is deeply concerned about the prospects of children born into homes that are already welfare dependent.

“ACT would support parents who have additional children while receiving a main benefit with electronic income management, which has been trialled successfully in Australia.

“With electronic income management, rent and utilities are paid directly, and a large part of the remaining benefit is loaded onto a card which restricts spending on alcohol, gambling and tobacco. A small amount of discretionary cash is left.

“This would see children with a secure roof over their heads, warm homes, food in their stomachs, and harmful spending by parents reduced. Electronic income management has been shown to improve child wellbeing by increasing spending on children.

“Work and Income already has the technology to do this for Youth and Young Parent beneficiaries.

“Having more children on welfare cannot simply be ignored. Labour says this is ‘putting children first’ but it is actually doing the opposite.”