Submission on the Social Security (Youth Support and Work Focus) Amendment Bill
Summary of key points:
- The timeframe for consultation on this Bill is unreasonable and unrealistic. The Select Committee should request an extension of time from Parliament’s Business Committee for receiving and hearing submissions.
- There is a lack of coherence with other areas of government policy change. The Bill’s impact on the vulnerability of the children affected by it has not undergone sufficient assessment or consultation.
- The process of legislation is neither clear nor transparent, because sections of the Regulatory Impact Statements have been withheld from public release, and there has been no summary of submissions made to the Welfare Working Group.
- The Regulatory Impact Statements fail to identify the particular demographic groups who will be most affected by the changes. They also fail to adequately identify costs, risks and the process for implementing the legislation, despite the plan to introduce it in just 10 weeks time.
- Caritas disagrees with the Ministry of Justice’s assessment that discrimination on the grounds of age, employment and family status are acceptable because ‘age limits necessarily involve….generalisation’.
- Caritas supports in principle the investment approach to assisting beneficiaries into the workforce, but does not believe that punitive changes such as increased sanctions and penalties are required to make this happen.
- Caritas has concerns about imposing a form of money management on a vulnerable group of young people which would be strongly resisted by other groups of beneficiaries, for example, superannuitants.
- Caritas strongly opposes a lower age of work requirement for parents on benefits who have subsequent children. The wellbeing of young children should be the paramount concern when parents return to the workforce, rather than workforce participation being determined by inflexible rules.