Welfare reforms will hurt not help


Media release Thursday 21 March 2013

Welfare reforms will hurt not help


Paula Bennett seems set on enacting reforms to the welfare system despite clear evidence from specialists that they will hurt vulnerable members of society, says Auckland Action Against Poverty spokesperson Sarah Thompson.

 “Expert evidence from the Ministry of Health, the NZ Drug Foundation, the Children’s Commissioner and the disability sector highlights that the latest wave of welfare reforms will significantly harm both families and children who rely on government assistance.

 “The repeated message from National MPs during the second reading of the Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill was that these reforms will ‘support people into work’, yet no single clause in the Bill provides the support that the above groups or other submitters argue will lead to this end point.

 “The solutions demanded include decent job creation; financial support for, and access to, education; the removal of barriers to work such as the cost and provision of childcare; and increased access to drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

 “The Ministry of Health have previously given a strong and persistent warning to the Minister of Social Development that the sanctions relating to Wellchild checks would have serious, negative impacts on families and vulnerable children including risks of increased child maltreatment and neglect.

 “While it was (incorrectly) reported on Tuesday that NZ First was going to support the bill, we are pleased that in fact they have stuck to their principles as outlined in their Select Committee minority report.

 “Auckland Action Against Poverty calls on all parties to follow suit and reject this Bill at its third and final reading. People who receive benefits will return to employment when work is available and their health and family circumstances allow – not as a result of draconian welfare legislation.