Stupid welfare reforms | The Jackal

15 Jul 2013

Stupid welfare reforms

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

All sickness beneficiaries, and sole parents and widows with no children under 14, are now subject to the same requirement to look for fulltime work as other jobless people, although sickness may be accepted as a valid reason to postpone work temporarily.

There will also be a new medical assessment process for Invalid beneficiaries to see if they have any capacity for work. While General Practitioners will be required to provide further personal details on their clients, the new regime may also include an examination by a specialist appointed by WINZ. No figures have been provided to show the cost of implementing this aspect of the policy changes.

Other new obligations include drug-testing for jobseekers in relevant industries, which is expected to trigger benefit cuts for up to 5800 people, and a requirement for beneficiaries to clear outstanding arrest warrants.

Drug testing beneficiaries for relevant industries? These people aren't working in those industries yet FFS! Surely the drug test should occur "for relevant industries" when they apply for or get the job? Why are we subsidizing these industries to check if their applicants are suitable or not?

Cutting a person's benefit if they fail a taxpayer funded drug test is a foolish policy that will do nothing to reduce the amount of drug addiction in New Zealand. In fact it is likely to make it even worse. Without an income some people will be forced into dealing drugs or selling their that what the right wing want?

About 8000 beneficiaries have arrest warrants outstanding for issues such as unpaid fines. Unless they clear them within 38 days, their benefits will be halved if they have children, or stopped completely if they don't, in what is likely to be the biggest single purge of the benefit rolls since the system was created.

Except a beneficiary who has fines usually pays them off at around $15 dollars per week. They have no choice in the matter, as WINZ automatically reduces their benefits until their fines are paid. If a person has an arrest warrant for fines, be assured that WINZ is already reducing that person’s benefit.

Most beneficiaries simply don't have the means to pay their fines within 38 days. Not having a WOF and registration costs $400, meaning this is clearly being used as an excuse to kick people who are already struggling off welfare. Such archaic and stupid policy will cause more beneficiaries to use loan sharks in an attempt to not lose their only incomes. In most cases these people don't have legal cars because they simply cannot afford them in the first place. Perhaps the right wing expects them to use a horse and cart instead?

Such repressive policy will undoubtedly create even more inequality in New Zealand... but I guess that's been National's agenda all along.