“Much of National’s just-released social services discussion document reads like a Labour Party manifesto”, according to ACT Leader David Seymour.

“We’ve come to expect few differences between the two major parties, but today’s release is disappointing nonetheless.

“The discussion document continues to pursue the National-Labour philosophy of spending more than $34 billion on welfare, funded by taxing one in every three dollars, and hoping for the best, an approach which has demonstrably failed.

“Many of National’s welfare ideas could be found in a Labour Party manifesto:

• Accelerating the rate at which state houses are built;
• Low-interest loans for beneficiaries wishing to start new businesses;
• More middle-class welfare for new parents;
• Continuing to support Labour’s Child Poverty Reduction Bill which focuses on inequality rather than poverty and neglect.

“However, there is some for cause for hope. National hints at adopting ACT’s idea of time limits for beneficiaries and cashless welfare for people who’ve been on a benefit too long.

“While government should support people in genuine hardship, a big government welfare state has made hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders dependent on benefits, preventing them from living independent, productive lives.

“ACT would introduce a lifetime limit of five years on Sole Parent Support and a lifetime limit of three years on Jobseeker Support, with cashless welfare being applied when those limits are reached. We would also extend cashless welfare to any parent who has additional children while receiving a benefit.

“This means a person’s benefit will be placed on a debit card which can only be used for specific purposes – for example, rent, power and groceries. Cashless welfare has had a ‘considerable positive impact’ in Australia.

“We’re pleased National has hinted at time limits and cashless welfare, but it must push much further to reduce the size and scope of the government and allow New Zealanders to live independent and productive lives free of meddling politicians.”