Wide-ranging benefit reforms have come into force today, with beneficiary advocates voicing a mix of cautious optimism and criticism of the changes.
From today there are fewer benefit categories, as well as compulsory drug testing for jobseekers, sanctions for fugitive beneficiaries and stricter healthcare obligations for parents of young children.
A new way of dealing with hardcore beneficiaries will also be introduced, with the Government trumpeting the success of a pilot trialled in 24 Work and Income offices since October.
Work and Income says the results are “some of the best from any case management trial” in recent years, with 6000 of the 10,000 people in the pilot no longer on a benefit. More than half of those people found work, the rest opted out or cancelled benefits for reasons such as no longer meeting eligibility requirements.
Imagine if we can replicate that, on a larger scale.
The ministry also has a pilot planned in the next two months to get 2000 sickness beneficiaries with mental and physical disabilities into work, she said.
Few disabilities prevent someone from all work. They may prevent certain types of work, or full-time work.