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Submission on Welfare Working Group Issues Paper

Summary

  • Social security is for the good of all, as well as benefiting individuals at different times of their lives. 
  • New Zealand’s welfare safety net was developed in response to economic hardship experienced by its citizens, and has significantly protected many individuals, families and our society from the wider social consequences of impoverishment.   However, it has been unravelling as a result of economic and social policy choices.
  • Whatever the form of our social security system, people in need of support because of old age, unemployment, illness, disability and care for dependent relatives need to be treated with respect for their innate human dignity.  This is not currently the case.
  • Caritas agrees that the social welfare system is in need of debate and reform, as it is a complex and difficult system for both beneficiaries and public servants to navigate, and leaves many of New Zealand’s most vulnerable citizens feeling disempowered and humiliated.
  • However, the simplistic adoption in the Issues Paper of the rhetoric of “welfare dependency” and the inadequate problem definition of “benefit receipt” need further critical analysis and study by the Welfare Working Group.
  • The Welfare Working Group is further constrained by inadequate Terms of Reference which exclude significant factors from their consideration of our current social welfare system.
  • Insufficient attention is given in the issues paper to the complexities of the many different reasons that people are unable to find work, are unable to work or feel excluded from the workforce.  These include deliberate policy choices made in recent decades.

See also the submission on the subsequent Options Paper.

Read the full submission: