Entering the workforce
“12% of those people who received benefits within the last year weren’t actually entitled to them”
“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.”
The second part of this reform focuses on solo mums and getting them back into the workforce. Now a parent will be tested for full time work once their child is fourteen years old and will be tested for part time work when they are five. Having another child while on the DPB will only give you another year before you have to return to work – removing the incentive to have children primarily to gain the benefit. Again, not such a bad idea of National’s as they are monitoring the time-frame a benefit is given out to discourage parents using children as money making machines. However, this is where I put down my blue flag and step into red territory to join Jacinda Ardern with asking the all-important question: WHERE ARE THE JOBS? It’s all very well for the government to be encouraging youth into work – but the work is currently not there. With unemployment nearing an all-time low, and almost 1,000 public sector employees joining the dole queue (re: Air NZ, MFAT, Housing NZ) it can’t be expected that the jobs will just magically appear. It is interesting to compare this reform to Labour’s suggestion – taking the money that would be given to youth on the benefit and giving it to employers to create the much needed apprenticeships in order to both upskill youth and provide the necessary jobs. But John Key remains adamant that although the jobs may not be there now – they will come. Great, more crystal ball gazing from our PM.
Social problems persist
“Having another child while on the DPB will only give you another year before you have to return to work – removing the incentive to have children primarily to gain the benefit.”
Harawira from the Mana party and Turei from the Greens both criticise National’s reforms as well. Turei points out that by pushing solo mothers into work it will have a negative effect on both them and their children. She says the government is ignoring scientific advice showing the early years are crucial in a child’s development and that this policy is more about cost-cutting and pushing a vulnerable sector of society into low paid jobs, than it is about solving unemployment in the long run. Harawira also criticises the government for nannying the youth of today, arguing that they will never learn self-responsibility if they have their money spent for them. For once, I am actually sitting on the political fence.
“It’s all very well for the government to be encouraging youth into work – but the work is currently not there.”
There are both pros and cons to the reforms, and the only thing that our political figures seem to be able to agree on is the fact that something needs to change. Now if they could only put their heads together and come up with a real solution, because everyone seems to be asking it, but no one has even attempted to answer it –
WHERE ARE THE JOBS?!
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