Apr 13, 2021


Maori News & Indigenous Views

1000s to lose their benefits starting today

2 min read

(Simon Collins, NZ Herald) Thousands of people are expected to be chopped off welfare benefits as sweeping changes in the social security system come into force today.

The reforms represent the biggest upheaval in the welfare state since the Social Security Act was passed by the first Labour Government in 1938.

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.

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.

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.

The co-ordinator of the Pikorua Community House in a low-income part of Papakura, Michelle Neho, said many people with outstanding warrants would go back to drug-dealing rather than pay their fines.

A Herald investigation into how the changes will affect people’s lives in Papakura, as a case study of a high-welfare area, has found widespread fear of the reforms even among those who are supposed to be exempted from the work-search requirements.

“A lot of people are scared about the warrants to arrest,” Ms Neho said. “There’s a lot of people that have thousands of dollars of fines outstanding.” Some would rather come off the benefit than pay all their fines.

The huge reorientation of welfare shifts the focus from the short-term unemployed, which largely left other beneficiaries alone, to a new “investment approach” aimed at finding work for those who are likely to stay on benefits the longest and cost taxpayers the most – mainly the sick, disabled and sole parents.

Work and Income chief Debbie Power said 85,000 people – mainly the sick, long-term unemployed, and sole parents and widows with no children under 14 – would move today into intensive “work-focused case management” with 760 personal case managers to help them find jobs and overcome barriers such as transport and childcare costs, addictions, debts and workplace attitudes to mental illness and other conditions.

A further 1000 sole parents and 1000 people with mental health problems will be handed over to contractors who will be paid from $2250 to $16,500 for each person they place in employment for at least a year.

1 thought on “1000s to lose their benefits starting today

  1. Being dependent on a benefit I believe is not something anyone truly wants, but for many it is a lifeline and it is the only way whanau, tamariki, mokopuna,tuarua, pakeke, rangatahi, koroua, kuia, can survive.

    The plundering and attack of our social welfare system will wreak havoc amongst our already poor communities and struggling families. This government and previous are not known for implementing social policy and systems in a fair and equitable way. The debacle with recent Eduation payroll systems, the three strikes and your out corrections policy that have prejudiced many, housing nz policies that have resulted in increasing homelessness and/or families in market rental homes that don’t enable them be warm or fed….the policy blunders and mayhem go on and on.

    Now more than ever whanau, hapu and iwi need to work together and get involved in our political systems both locally and nationally to influence and change policies and procedures that have dire effects on our overall wellbeing and longevity.

    Perhaps also as whanau Maori we need to question the validity of treaty settlements and leadership that promotes and encourages the corporate ethos which values the ownership and growth of resources, money, property, forestry and power over the wellbeing and wairua of their beneficiaries. We need to forget our iwi, hapu differences collectivise our strengths and get on with resolving the issues that we all have in common regardless of our iwi affiliations.. hgih unemployment, poor educational achievement, inadequate housing, drug and alcohol issues, high imprisonment, mental illness, poor health, suicide etc…..we tick all of the negative statistics, but let us not forget that as a people we are known for our courage – 28 Maori battalion and all of our war veterans and long lost warriors have created a legacy that will not be forgotten, our resourcefulness we have built productive and successful businesses at time when credit did not exist, our compassion we have always welcomed and sheltered peoples from all lands proof in our whakapapa with Croatian, Spanish, English, Welsh, Scottish, Irish, German, French, Greek etc influences, our creativity we lead the world in design with celebrities wanting to adorn their bodies with our ta moko, our ethereal knowledge to navigate and cross the Pacific ocean the largest ocean in the world using only the stars and tides….. So let us try to respect and awhi each other regardless of where we come from, how we look and what’s in our pockets heoi ano ko tenei nga korero no toku papa
    kia ngakau mahaki, kia ngakau humarie Haere, whaia te m?tauranga
    a te p?keha, kainga rawatia, hei k?naki i to kai t?turu, ko t? kai t?turu ko te matauranga a o tipuna

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