United Future news and views with Judy Turner MP
Below is Judy Turner’s newsletter (all quoted)
Last week a very significant piece of legislation passed its Third Reading, and United Future supported its passage. The Bill was an amendment to the Social Security Act and made some major changes to the principles under-pinning our benefit system.
The Bill introduces a work-focus, stating that “Work in paid employment offers the best opportunity for people to achieve social and economic well-being”, and creates within the Act three clear sets of expectations for those in receipt of a benefit.
The first targets those on the unemployment benefit and allows for pre-benefit activities before payment is made and requires more pro-active case-management focused on finding suitable employment as soon as is possible.
The second set of expectations applies to those on the Domestic Purposes and Sickness benefits and possibly some disability beneficiaries. For these people it is acknowledged that paid employment is not appropriate in the short-term, but is a realistic goal for the future. These people are required to begin to plan for that eventuality, and will be actively case managed to develop plans and to take up training opportunities in readiness for the future when that is appropriate.
The third set of expectations apply to those on the Disability benefit where there is no intention of having unfair work requirements, but where there is now an expectation on case managers to make sure that they facilitate opportunities for these people to participate as fully as is practicable in appropriate community activities, so that they are not isolated.
Critics of the Bill refer to the fact that people who undertake crucial unpaid work, like child-rearing or caring for dependent elderly relatives, remain unrecognised and under-valued. While I think they raise an interesting point, I don’t think that the benefit system is the best mechanism available to us to address this.
United Future believes that the tax system could better recognise the contribution of a parent at home through Income Splitting. If you want to find out more about that policy do visit our website www.unitedfuture.org.nz.
“In order that people may be happy in their work, these three things are needed: They must be fit for it. They must not do too much of it. And they must have a sense of success in it”
John Ruskin, English Writer (1819 — 1900)