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Submission on the Social Assistance (Future Focus) Bill 2010

Summary

  • We support some positive aspects of the Bill including the increase in earnings before abatement and the linking of benefit levels to the CPI, however,  we strongly oppose the extension of work-testing to domestic purpose and sickness beneficiaries
  • This policy is not significantly different to those introduced under the previous administration, but the economic circumstances following the economic crisis are significantly different.
  • The policy appears to be based mostly on the false assumption that motivation of beneficiaries is the main factor contributing to high unemployment figures.
  • We object to the punitive nature of the rhetoric used by politicians about beneficiaries in relation to the policies in this Bill.
  • We are deeply concerned about the lack of consultation with benefit advocacy groups and other non-governmental organizations including Churches.
  • We seek a definition of “suitable work” in legislation, policy and practice of the Department, and swift and effective review and appeal procedures to deal with any disputes around the suitability of work required of beneficiaries
  • In particular we seek a firm commitment that sole-parents of school age children not be required to work outside school hours, nor that Māori be required to leave their papakainga for employment.
  •  We believe an economy based on full employment is a worthwhile and valid goal, and look forward to seeing the government base its macroeconomic policies around its stated goal for beneficiaries of “an unrelenting focus on work”.

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