Treasury’s welfare prescription

The Herald reports Treasury recommends:

  • Move work-ready people from sickness and invalid benefits on to dole.
  • Make sole parents look for paid work before youngest child turns 6.
  • Contract out welfare services to private companies and charities.
  • Increase sick leave and parental leave to give employers incentives to help workers back to work.

This will give Sue Bradford something to scream about.

I’m hesitant over the work testing when the children are under six, but the other stuff looks pretty sound.

It draws heavily on recent reforms in Australia and Britain, which have both moved work-ready people off disability benefits on to the unemployment benefit. In Britain, the paper says, 69 per cent of previous disability beneficiaries were classified as “fit for work” and moved on to the dole.

“On the basis of the recent UK reforms, the reclassification of all sickness and invalid beneficiaries could result in more than 80,000 New Zealand beneficiaries moving on to the unemployment benefit,” it says.

The principle is very sound, and the UK has shown the potential. I do want to make the point that many who are on the Invalids Benefit are quite literally unable to work, through no fault of their own. They deserve as much support as possible. But there certainly are some on there, who are work capable.

France, Germany, Switzerland and Norway all require sole parents to look for work when their youngest children turn 3, and some countries treat sole parents the same as any other unemployed person regardless of the children’s ages.

One could lower the age from six to five, but I’d rather not go below that.

The paper says Australia’s decision to contract out job search services for the unemployed to private companies and charities in 1998 halved the cost for every job placement from A$12,000 to A$6000.


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