Dom Post on work tests

The Dom Post reports:

An important social contract underpins New Zealand’s welfare system. At its heart is the principle that society will provide for individuals who are unable to support themselves on the understanding that those who are able to work will make an honest effort to look for employment.

Yep, and support for the former is undermined when the latter does not occur.

Sadly, however, some beneficiaries see it as their God-given right to remain on welfare for life and not only make no effort to improve their lot, but add to the burden on taxpayers.

They include women on the domestic purposes benefit who seem to believe they can have as many children as they want while remaining dependent on the state, and that workers will be happy to pay for them to have that privilege.

It is a minority, but it is not an insignificant minority. We should be full of compassion for parents who suddenly find themselves without a partner because they die, flee, turn abusive. But that is a different situation to having multiple babies to multiple partners over many years, and hence never being in employment.

The number of women who have had additional children while on the DPB is undeniably cause for concern. Between 1993 and 2011, almost a third of women who drew the benefit had at least one more child. In 2010 alone, 4800 children were born to solo mothers already on the DPB – 7.5 per cent of the total live births that year.

A third is far too high. Mistakes will and can occur, but at a third that suggests many of them are deliberate decisions to have further children despite being unable to even provide for existing children.

That is not fair on working parents who would dearly love more children, but who have put off increasing the size of their families because of economic pressures.


It is also not fair to the children of those beneficiaries.

It has long been established that children in working families have far better health, education and social outcomes. That is true for children with one parent as well as those with two.

Not only do children in sole-parent families benefit from their mother or father having a higher income than they would get from welfare payments, they also benefit enormously from seeing their parents go out to work every day.

This is the part that I think is most important. A child who grows up in a household where no adult ever works in paid employment is going to probably start life very disadvantaged.

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