“Welfare dependency has grown massively in New Zealand, there needs to be a rebalancing back towards obligations. The benefit is there to get people back on their feet, not to rely on,” says ACT’s Social Development spokesperson Karen Chhour.
“Around four in ten beneficiaries have been on a work-ready Jobseeker benefit for one to five years. The real tragedy is that Labour’s low expectations for beneficiaries is preventing them from creating a better life for themselves and their families.
“We need to have KPIs for public sector Chief Executives to hold them accountable. ACT’s policy of setting KPIs for Chief Executives would mean that the boss at the Ministry for Social Development would need to make sure his organisation is getting people back to work, not just providing an administration service for handing out benefits.
“ACT’s policy of electronic income management for long-term beneficiaries is a humane response for achieving this, it doesn’t take from those in need, it makes sure that the money is being used to support them and their families.
“The policy has already had a positive impact in Australia, with a range of improved economic and social outcomes. An evaluation of the programme found reductions in alcohol, drugs and violence. Trial participants were better able to look after their children and save money. And requests for emergency food relief and financial assistance dropped.
“The culture of welfare dependency is hurting New Zealand’s productivity, with able Kiwis choosing to reside on a benefit rather than play their part in society and work.
“By doing this the Government is dancing around the real issues that the country faces.
“Instead of seeing benefits as the solution, the next government needs to get to the root of poverty by growing the economy and fixing our education system.
“Rather than locking so many New Zealanders into a cycle of poverty, ACT will bring real change with policies designed to grow the economy and allow more Kiwis to find work and create a better future for their families.”