Welfare reform legislation passed into law

April 10th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Paul Bennett has announced:

Three new benefit types will replace the seven current benefit categories, in addition to the new Youth Payment and Young Parent Payment introduced in August last year.

The new categories this Bill creates are:

  • Jobseeker Support for those actively seeking and available for work

  • Sole Parent Support for sole parents with children under 14 years

  • Supported Living Payment for people significantly restricted by sickness, injury or disability.

This is a fairly major reform, which changes the focus far more onto having welfare as temporary assistance, except for those incapable of any significant work at all.

“The legislation also introduces new social obligations to ensure children in benefit-dependent homes get quality Early Childhood Education, are enrolled with a doctor, get their Well Child checks and are in school if they are school-age,” Mrs Bennett said.

The law will also require Jobseekers to be drug-free, and will allow benefits to be stopped for outstanding arrest warrants.

I can’t believe it has taken this long to say you can’t claim a benefit if on the run from the Police!

The investment approach will target interventions and support to those most at risk of long-term welfare dependence.

“By investing in people sooner, we can actually start to break that cycle of dependence.”

It may cost a bit more in the short-term, but is a good long-term investment.

37 Responses to “Welfare reform legislation passed into law”

  1. krazykiwi (8,230 comments) says:

    Good stuff.

    Well overdue.

    Now, cue bleating and gnashing of the teeth from the left, no doubt citing spurious edge-cases as evidence of the inhumanity of these changes

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  2. Longknives (6,406 comments) says:

    Here’s a novel idea- How about we simply stop paying the feral underclass so handsomely to breed?

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  3. berend (1,912 comments) says:

    Hands up for all those believing this won’t make any cent of difference to the dollars spend on welfare.

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  4. dime (13,014 comments) says:

    “Jobseeker Support for those actively seeking and available for work” – it does sound better than the unemployment benefit or whatever its called now.

    almost implies you cant sleep til midday then watch tv til 4, then drink all night while living of the charity of others

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  5. Bob R (1,831 comments) says:

    ***The investment approach will target interventions and support to those most at risk of long-term welfare dependence.***

    Contraception is essential if that’s going to work. Many people lack the future time orientation to remember to use contraception. Accordingly, temporary birth shots should be a condition of entitlements along with the other conditions currently imposed.


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  6. Muzza M (312 comments) says:

    I’m with berend

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  7. nasska (16,764 comments) says:

    I’ve got my doubts that any initiatives will move long term bludgers into work but the new provisions may reduce the attractiveness of the lifestyle & reduce the numbers of new recruits. Ditto the requirement that all DPB recipients actually do some parenting as opposed to pure breeding.

    As ever the devil will be in the administration of the new policies. WINZ staff suffer enough abuse as it is & it will be interesting to see whether they actually DO cancel benefits rather than issue endless warnings while finding other ways for their “clients” to continue sucking at nanny state’s tit.

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  8. Longknives (6,406 comments) says:

    Nothing will EVER make long-term bludgers want to work. (they will simply move onto sickness benefits etc)
    Our only hope is to stop the parasites from breeding…..

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  9. Muzza M (312 comments) says:

    For those who are hell bent on remaining on welfare there is an easy solution, just become addicted to drugs, go on the methadone programme, bingo, a benefit for life.

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  10. Keeping Stock (12,398 comments) says:

    Actually berend, it has ALREADY produced savings.

    The number of beneficiaries who have had their income cut after failing to meet work-testing requirements has doubled under National and is set to rise further after the final stage of reforms passed into law last night.

    Figures provided by the Ministry of Social Development show that on average 4654 beneficiaries a month have had at least half of their weekly benefit payments suspended or cancelled in the past six months.

    That is more than double the 2195 beneficiaries a month who were sanctioned under Labour in the last six months of 2008.

    The increase was largely because of National’s reforms, which have required an extra 68,000 solo parents and sickness beneficiaries to look for work, opening them up to sanctions if they fail to attend a job interview or Work and Income meeting.


    I know that you’ll be disappointed by this berend, given that you would rather beneficiaries simply be shot at dawn, but Bennett’s revamp of welfare is already having a tangible benefit.

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  11. krazykiwi (8,230 comments) says:

    Nothing will EVER make long-term bludgers want to work

    I don’t agree.

    If we stop protecting people from the consequence of their decisions then behaviour would change pretty quickly.

    Instead our system says that it’s fine to live wherever you like, work or not if you like, breed or not if you like … and the good ‘ol government will be there to minimise any personal downside.

    That would be easy to fix if the vast majority of NZers didn’t rely on the government for some portion of their income.

    However today around 40% of NZers do, and that’s a voter bloc which must be gently waited upon in their welfare hammocks if those who rule us are to be returned to their comfortable, powerful roles.

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  12. BlairM (2,755 comments) says:

    I’m not sure stopping benefits in the event of an arrest warrant is a good idea. Innocent until proven guilty and all that.

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  13. Longknives (6,406 comments) says:

    An arrest Warrant usually means you haven’t bothered to turn up to Court when you are charged with an offence- My care factor for such persons is pretty low.

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  14. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    Well considering beneficiaries are at fault for everything that is wrong with society, I shall expect my life to be a ‘box of fluffy ducks’ in no time at all!

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  15. Nigel Kearney (1,991 comments) says:

    Just giving existing benefits another name is not reform at all, let alone ‘fairly major reform’. It is the sort of thing politicians do when they don’t really have any ideas but want to be seen to be doing something.

    The actual restrictions are very small scale. Benchmarking against the number who had their benefits cut under Labour is surely a bad joke.

    It should be rare for any able bodied person of working age to get any benefit at all, and they should be time limited and come with a compensating reduction in future superannuation payments. Having kids should not change anything, ever. That has proven to be madness. Plenty of people want to adopt kids whose parents can’t care for them properly.

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  16. hamnidaV2 (247 comments) says:

    More beneficiary bashing.


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  17. Zapper (1,241 comments) says:

    Actually ham, it is reforms like this that will help those in genuine need by targeting those who are simply too lazy to work. If you’re worried about the vulnerable, you should get on board and vote National.

    Of course, it is possible you’re just one of those lazy people.

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  18. Muzza M (312 comments) says:

    Well said Zapper

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  19. Black with a Vengeance (2,196 comments) says:

    Does drug free include alcohol and tobacco?

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  20. Fisiani (1,185 comments) says:

    Does the legislation change the rort of doctors signing people off for sickness benefits knowing that they are fit for work but simply taking the easy option of click a few buttons and continue this widespread rort of people apparently completely unable to work FOR LIFE due to anxiety, stress, depression, headache, hearing loss, impaired mobility and a whole host of dodgy conditions all of which are experienced by people who ARE in the workforce. We are spending millions of dollars on sickness benefits on people who are clearly able to work.

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  21. Bob R (1,831 comments) says:

    @ Judith,

    What’s the point in a comment like that? The question is whether there is likely to be positive outcome from the policy. What do you think? No need to create strawmen to kick about.

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  22. RRM (12,581 comments) says:

    I still think that while they are actively seeking work, people on the Jobseeker Benefit should be actively carrying rocks at Transmission Gully. It would reduce the cost of that road project, and it would make the job seekers more motivated to seek something better.

    And no private enterprise can afford to have a large workforce standing around doing nothing, how can the country afford to?

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  23. Monique Watson (1,299 comments) says:

    Yeah, I can’t see it all working, myself, because there isn’t a crap ton of jobs for the Bludgers and the Breeders:


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  24. Longknives (6,406 comments) says:

    “More beneficiary bashing.”

    The bludgers deserve any bashing they get. These absolute fucking parasites fleece the hardworking taxpayer without a care in the World. It simply doesn’t make sense that some fat lazy solo mum on the DPB can earn more than a family with one hardworking provider..

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  25. Black with a Vengeance (2,196 comments) says:

    Hope you’re saving a bit of spleen to vent at all the bloodsucking fatcats avoiding tax and hiding wealth in trusts and offshore accounts too Longknives ?

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  26. duggledog (2,359 comments) says:

    Judith, there are two types of beneficiaries. Deserving, and undeserving. Most people know the difference

    Trouble is, who is going to draw the line? The state has decreed for decades now there’s no line; everyone’s entitled. Too little, too late Paula, not your fault but the ship has sailed. Still, some cheap properties coming up in places like the Hokianga.

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  27. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    duggledog (281) Says:
    April 10th, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    There will always be a number of people in society who do not work – just as there has been in every type of society historically.

    Some of those of course can’t work due to physical health concerns, some can’t due to mental health concerns. Then there are a group of people who are ‘broken’ – they just can’t get it together enough to do what is necessary to work.

    Then there are those that see it as a lifestyle choice – those are the ones that need targeting – and more so, the children of those those people.

    When you have generations of people who perhaps initially started off with some legitimate reason for not working, it is difficult for the next generations to do what it takes to be self sufficient. They have no role models. Sure you can say there are people in the community that are role models, but it has been well proven, it is the parents children take most cues from.

    If we want to stop the beneficiary hay ride then the first thing we do is make people feel secure – if you really need help, you will get it – you will not be left to sleep on the streets or starve – not here in NZ.

    Secondly we have to break the cycle. There is not much we can do for those that have ‘learned helplessness’. For many it is too late to teach them the work ethic. So instead we concentrate on their families. We have to step in and teach the children what it means to earn your own income – to manage money and be self sufficient. And the only way to do that is not by negative moves, but by offering incentives to do it. Give them levels to reach and aims to meet.

    This bill is just more negative stuff. It’s all talk. Govts have been talking like this for years. Bennett has made statements and bought in other policies – but talk to the people at the coal face, at WINZ, and they will tell you it’s all talk. At the end of the day they can’t let people starve – so they don’t. All they do is shuffle people from one type of benefit to another – from ACC to WINZ or some other form of govt payment.

    It’s all talk – to keep potential voters happy – it won’t work.

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  28. Sir Cullen's Sidekick (1,304 comments) says:

    Unfortunately all these reforms will be repealed by the Shearer-Norman government in 2014….sorry for the short lived good reforms…

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  29. duggledog (2,359 comments) says:

    Judith I quote you:

    “So instead we concentrate on their families. We have to step in and teach the children what it means to earn your own income – to manage money and be self sufficient”

    = shit loads of money we don’t have. We’ve been doing this for years and years. We can’t teach them anyway because the entire education system is a nest of hand wringing teachers who vote Labour and are mentally geared against doing anything like that.

    I think it’s a great time to be reflecting on Thatcher and how she broke the mould that had to be broken. Personally I would be phasing the entire welfare state out of existence over five years. Nothing like an incentive like that to snap legs closed

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  30. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    duggledog (282) Says:
    April 10th, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    You are wrong, we have not targeted the children before. There has never been steps to break the cycle .

    The policy changes are just more of the same they won’t work. There is nothing new in them. Drug testing people won’t prove a thing. WINZ will not let people starve, and if they refuse them, then other government welfare agencies will step in.

    All you will see is a few statistics change, as they push them round in circles. If we don’t spend the money to break the cycle, we will have the same in 20 years time.

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  31. duggledog (2,359 comments) says:

    I don’t know Judith the more I think about it, maybe it will work, but the results might be very long term. It has to work, maybe they will indeed go further and introduce foods stamps etc as the results of state largesse and wasteful unproductive spending are writ large all over the Western world, and the chickens come home to roost in years to come (I’m picking next year or the year after myself)

    The reforms simply look to me as the first steps of a gradual withdrawal of Government troops… in other words quietly absolving themselves of this absurd cradle to the grave state responsibility for other people’s (mostly) poor decisions and most importantly a massive, unsustainable use of precious tax funds.

    Paula Bennett is drawing a line in the sand that was never really there before; this sending a firm-ish signal – you don’t do XYZ, then find help elsewhere.

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  32. Northland Wahine (1,009 comments) says:

    “The law will also require Jobseekers to be drug-free”…

    Not entirely true David, I’m afraid. Only those applying for jobs that insist on a drug free test can be tested. However, if a client attends a seminar providing employment, and the employer asks … “If you know you will not pass a drug test, leave now”…those leaving will be work tested and given “x” amount of weeks to re comply… If they then can not pass the drug test, bye bye to half the main benefit.

    Judith, these reforms aren’t aimed at hurting children. Their parents are hurting them. As harsh as that might seem, it’s that simple. Trouble is, too many case managers are too scared to say exactly that. And that’s understandable when you’re being sworn at, things thrown at you and sadly, attacked. Recently one of our own security guards had his ear bitten while helping a case manager being verbally abused.

    These children that irresponsible clients claim they can not afford to feed, have debts to loan companies amounting to often hundreds of dollars a week. It appears that having 50 inch flat screen tv s and a flash car, is more important that rent , food and electricity. These aren’t clients that have recently lost their jobs. These are long term beneficiaries that tick up while on benefit. And yes, you can lay some blame at irresponsible loan companies lending them the money. However no one drags people to these loan companies.

    It’s called personal responsibility. And more people need to learn it. I’m guessing you did. I have. The majority of people have. We do long term beneficiaries no favours by denying that important lesson.

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  33. Rightandleft (782 comments) says:

    I really like these reforms, especially the parts about getting these kids in early childhood education and in school. The long-tail in education is largely made up of those who come to school completely unprepared and two years behind their peers at the start of primary and those who are constantly truant. The families that allow or even promote this happening have to be dealt with. The drug-testing is just common sense. What is really needed is to bring in food stamps so parents can’t take the dole money to play the pokies or drink or smoke it away. It’s only by improving the lives of the children of beneficiaries that we are going to break the cycle and while I doubt these reforms alone will do it, they’re at least a step in the right direction.

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  34. HC (186 comments) says:

    David Farrar, I find this SICKENING, how you distort from the truth. These “reforms” are only on the surface about tightening “social obligations”, to introduce “drug testing” and to pursue “criminals on the run”. That is just part of the agenda, but the REAL agenda, that is the ELEPHANT in the room is being ignored by most, and that is intended. Few will have issues with drug testing where it is necessary and expected for job applicants, few have also issues with putting a stop on benefits for people that may have a warrant for arrest on their heads. If the rest was so damned simple, I would agree with you.

    But honestly you are being a bit disengenious. I raised some points recently in your other post on US disability benefits. Now, to get real, these “reforms” that are being introduced, that will become law now, are also covering and including very major changes to medical assessesments and work capacity assessments, and that is for ALL, sick, disabled and what else you have. In a speech to medical practitioners on I believe 16 Sept. or was it 26 Sept. last year, Paula Bennett announce that they will introduce assessments along the UK line. We know what that is about, it is about ATOS Origin Healthcare, also originally developed in cooperation with controversial Unum Insurance, a US insurance giant, but who bought UK experts like former DWP head Mansel Aylward, to head reforms and develope work capacity tests that are biased and harsh, that lead indeed to suicides and deaths in the UK.

    There is much info available, and your post here is not touching on it. While you may celebrate the passing of these “reforms”, you are missing the concerns many professional health and mental health servers, same as advocates, and also the Legislative Advisory Council and others had.

    We are getting a flawed law, full of issues, and there will be also serious questions about how work capacity will be assessed in future. Bennett has kept this hidden, while Select Committee members asked for details. So we are afraid of the UK repeated example, I am afraid. Really I am afraid, as I know people on the brink, and them taking their lives will be the final straw for me to take legal action against this ill thought reform.

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  35. joana (1,983 comments) says:

    So what will happen to all the psych patients taken off the invalids benefit? Many of these people already work part time..This benefit allows them to live well probably exist compared to how most K/B people live..As HC says , some will commit suicide but others may commit homicide..I guess it will be ok as long as it is not your best friend, your brother , your sister , your mother..Not too long ago , almost all of these people were kept in large hospitals..At least then their illness was acknowledged..Helping people like this to exist on the invalids benefit was already a cheap option. Having them living out on the street or under trees as they do in America will bring enormous problems but hey I am ok , I live in a better area..I live in a gated community , bla , bla , bla..Perhaps we should rename this place ”New America.”

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  36. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    joana (1,715) Says:
    April 11th, 2013 at 7:19 am

    That is a good point about the psych patients. We have a lot of people in NZ suffering from mental illness. Our increasing use of man-made drugs is not helping. Bi-polar (type II) numbers are increasing at alarming rates, an illness that strongly inhibits the ability to work for many. What employer is going to put up with someone that for two weeks out of four is climbing the ceiling and the other two is curled up in a ball.

    The invalid benefit provides a sense of security for such people. The extra costs they incur are partially met too. This security actually assists in their ability to overcome their illness and a least obtain part-time work in many cases.

    A few years back the Politicians thought it would be a great idea to close the mental hospitals. To allow people suffering from severe mental illnesses to live in the community. Whilst for some that works well, there are many that create on going problems – which is evidenced in our crime stats. Prisons and probation are not geared sufficiently to deal with them, and so they get released back into the community – until out of control, they offend again.

    When will Politicians learn to listen to the advice they get from those that deal with these people – instead they ignore it and go on their endless ‘cost cutting ‘ measures, that do nothing but shift the cost to other areas.

    Bennett is way out of line – she is a pig ignorant hypocrite who didn’t mind using the benefit system to get where she is – no huge student loan for her – instead she got it all handed on a plate. She’s on a good income now – how about she reduce the deficit a little by repaying some of what she got?

    In fact, all those just like her, who used the system and are now doing well, how about they be made to repay – just like the student loan recipients have to.

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  37. joana (1,983 comments) says:

    Thanks Judith..”Do nothing but shift the costs elsewhere.” My point exactly..This type of thinking or policy making is SO short sighted. But usually by the time the results have fully emerged , the politicians who brought in these things have moved on or died and few people make the links back to the causes.
    Bennett a hypocrite..well I can’t argue with that.
    Many of the people with psych illnesses are on very high dosages of medication. This is what enables them to ”live” in the community. This is also what makes it dangerous for them to drive , use machinery , do work requiring fine motor skills etc..Also the fact remains that most ”normal” people don’t actually want to work alongside these people..There was a good post from someone else recently re the really high percentage of employers who do not want to employ them.
    A lot of this is ”Paula pushing Paula’s barrow..” She seems to be good at pushing her own barrow but many people do not share this quality with her. They are the vulnerable ones she is targeting. Just another school yard bully.

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