National's nanny state | The Jackal

29 Feb 2012

National's nanny state

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

From July, up to 14,000 teenagers aged 16 and 17 who are not in education, work or training and teen parents aged 16 to 18 will be coupled with a private provider to help them with budgeting courses, parenting courses, training or job-hunting.

Their basic costs such as rent and power will be paid by the state, and they will have a payment card for living costs that can be monitored to ensure they do not buy alcohol or cigarettes.

They will receive an allowance of up to $50 a week, but this can increase by $10 a week for a good attendance record at school or for completing a budgeting or parenting course.

Likewise, providers will receive extra funding, but Ms Bennett said payments to them would be based on the results they achieved what she called "real outcomes''.

There are some major problems with this tinkering around the edges.

Firstly, the government will be deciding who the private providers will be. We have seen countless cases of National cronyism over the last few years, and this just opens up another avenue for those who are finding favour with National to line their own pockets.

Secondly, the government cannot hope to control direct payments to landlords so that there is no rorting going on. Having a mechanism whereby the government allocates money that goes directly to landlords is open to abuse.

Thirdly, and more importantly, young people need to learn to budget for themselves. National cannot hope to have people that can look after themselves if the state is controlling their money and perhaps where they live. But what is strange about this aspect of National’s proposed changes is that it goes against their personal responsibility motto.

The hypocritical Bennett needs to look at policy that will achieve real outcomes like creating jobs and providing proper incentives for training that actually meets market requirements. National’s beneficiary bashing will achieve nothing.