David Seymour writes in the SST:
Much of the country is focused on child abuse, poverty, and putting kids’ needs first. The political left tell us the Government should just spend a few dollars more, as they have told us for decades.
Yet the current Government taxes and spends $80 billion every year. This surpasses the wildest dreams of the welfare state’s architects. When Michael Joseph Savage departed office, government spent, in today’s money, only about $2700 per person per year. Now it’s $17,000 per person (or $85,000 per family of five).
And most of it goes on welfare, subsidised education and subsidised healthcare.
Only 10 per cent of working-age people are on a benefit, yet 20 per cent of children are born into families receiving benefits. In the six months to March 2015, 6000 babies were added to existing benefits. That’s enough to raise the hackles of those paying tax while preparing to have their own family, but worse is the outcomes for the kids involved.
Benefits seem to make people have kids early, a key risk factor for maltreatment. As of 2015, in the general population 22 per cent of births were to mothers 24 or younger, but 44 per cent of beneficiary caregivers (mostly mothers but sometimes fathers) with a child born that year were 24 or younger.
The ultimate result has been calamity for New Zealand kids. University of Auckland researchers have found that, of under-fives who faced maltreatment, 83 per cent were on benefits before age two.
Out of fairness to the taxpayer and the children, we need a new deal. It’s simply not good enough that the Government taxes some people, who are often waiting, saving, and sacrificing for parenthood, so that it can pay others to have kids earlier. It’s absolutely unacceptable when we know this policy is enlarging child poverty and abuse. We need to put children first.
If you’re 18 or younger, you can’t get an all-cash benefit from the Government. Instead it pays rent, power, and basic necessities before giving the remaining entitlement in cash. A compassionate government should attack child poverty by extending Income management to any parent who has additional children while on a benefit.
The message would be simple. If you want to have children while receiving a benefit that’s fine, but the Government will give entitlements in a form that puts the needs of the children first.
That’s a good idea.
I think most people support a generous welfare state for people with children who have something unexpected happen – you lose a job, your partner dies or leaves you, they’re abusive etc. But if you are already on welfare, and choose to have more children, then that is unfair.