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A look at the recent

Wondering where that huge chunk of money that disappears from your pay packet each week under the title of ‘tax’ is going?

welfare reforms Hazel Buckingham

Well, as promised during their campaign last year, John Key and the National party are making the first steps at trying to spend it wisely. Settling into their second term, the National party has started to make the changes regarding welfare that they promised back in the lead up to the election. Prime Minister John Key and Social Development Minister Paula Bennett recently announced the first of three stages that the reforms would take. The first step focuses on solo mums and unemployed youth – something that is sure to affect you in some way, whether it is directly or through someone you know. The reaction from the political community was perhaps more entertaining and interesting than the reforms themselves, but first things first, let’s have a look at why our welfare policy needs to be reformed.

Cutting back the benefit A huge 13% of the working age population is currently on the Domestic Purposes Benefit (DPB) and over 220,000 children live in benefit dependent homes. This is a massive amount and John Key went as far as to say in November last year that a 12% of those people who received benefits within the last year weren’t actually entitled to them. More needs to be done to safeguard our money as taxpayers. The new welfare scheme announced by National is expected to get over 30,000 beneficiaries back into the workplace AND save us a whopping $1billion over four years – that’s got to be good right?! With the current welfare system, youth aged 16 and 17 years old that are not in any form of training or job, are entitled to a substantial weekly payment from the government. National isn’t suggesting we take this away from them, just that we control where the money is being spent in a slightly better way. Under the new system, the youth will have their rent and power paid directly by the government, and will be given a living costs card, which cannot be used to buy alcohol or cigarettes. They will then be given $50 cash in hand a week, which can be increased by up to $30 a week if they take part in recommended training courses. This is the highlight of National’s welfare reform – as no longer will our money be wasted away and thrown into bad habits and addictions. It will be used to pay for essential things and encourage youth to upskill.

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debate issue 3 2012  
debate issue 3 2012  

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