National should adopt ACT's cashless welfare policy

Wed, 30 Oct, 2019

“The National Party should adopt yet another ACT idea when it releases its Social Services Discussion Document today”, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“National has already borrowed partnership schools, tax bracket indexation, RMA reform, 90-day trials, three strikes, time off for good behaviour in prison, and a range of other ideas from ACT.

“As the party of ideas, we’re more than happy for National to adopt our cashless welfare policy as well.

“Intergenerational welfare dependency is destructive. Nearly half of children who grow up in a benefit-dependent household end up on a benefit before the age of 23.

“It’s also completely unacceptable that there are 300,000 working-age New Zealanders on a benefit in a tight labour market while employers are struggling to find workers.

“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.

“Government should encourage people off welfare and into work by placing time limits on welfare.

“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, with a range of improved economic and social outcomes. An evaluation of the programme found: 

• A reduction in the consumption of alcohol and illegal drugs, and a reduction in violence and harm related to alcohol and illegal drug consumption and gambling;
• Trial participants were better able to look after their children and save money;
• A reduction in crime, violence and harmful behaviours;
• A fall in requests for emergency food relief and financial assistance.

“If introduced here in New Zealand, cashless welfare would improve the lives of New Zealanders on welfare and their children.

“ACT is the party of ideas. We would welcome the National Party’s adoption of our cashless welfare policy.”