National’s Welfare spokesperson Judith Collins would have been spewing this morning when she picked up the NZ Herald and read about her Leader’s welfare plans:
Leader John Key hinted at the weekend he would this week unveil a scheme offering support payments and loans to people who lose their jobs during the turmoil.
The payments would be part of a wider move by National to help people get back into the workforce.
Any payment or support would be targeted and carry a time limit.
It would also probably be aimed at middle-income earners who have commitments such as mortgages but no savings to carry them through a period without work.
What Key appears to be proposing is a bureacratic nightmare that Collins would inherit if she becomes Minister of Social Development and Employment if National gets to lead the next Government. It sounds like an extraordinarily complex scheme that would inevitably result in a requirement for more staff in the Ministry of Social Development to administer. It is inherently unfair.
For a start, how does Key propose to target it? And how is “middle income” defined? And why target to “middle income” New Zealanders, when low income New Zealanders and beneficiaries are already facing significant hardship? And time limiting it creates two categories of unemployed, receiving different levels of assistance. That is simply unfair, and effectively “blames” people by reducing their welfare support if they cannot find a job within whatever time limit is set. During difficult economic times, many will not.
Some better ideas to assist people who find themselves without work were outlined by Sue Bradford this morning:
- Ending all stand down periods – the gap between when someone loses their job and starts getting the unemployment benefit (currently either one or two weeks depending on their situation).
- Lifting base benefit levels so people receive enough to maintain themselves and their family.
- Restoring discretion to the benefit system – lost when the Special Benefit was cancelled – so that people can be supported to meet gross gaps between income and outgoings.
All of which are already Green Party policy.