Lindsay Mitchell looks at Social Welfare Reform
in New Zealand and Overseas
CONTACT LINDSAY:
ph/fx 04 562 7944
mob 021 132 5968
MSD Boss admits benefits not best for kids
Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The outgoing chief executive of the Ministry of Social Development has at last acknowledged the findings of research conducted almost ten years ago. This is a welcome but long overdue admission said welfare commentator Lindsay Mitchell.

"Peter Hughes yesterday told a Wellington newspaper, 'We know that for the same level of income, kids do better where that income's derived from paid work.' He is referring to his own department's research* that appeared in the Social Policy Journal of June 2002 but was never widely publicised. The findings would suggest that policy should aim to both reduce the number of children reliant on welfare and prevent more coming into the system. None of which happened under Mr Hughes' stewardship. The findings, and Hughes' belated admission, have implications for the many groups who oppose work-testing of the DPB and advocate a parent's right to stay on a benefit unconditionally."

"Hughes also described how 'people get stuck [in the system] and they need help to get out' and characterised the welfare system as 'very passive for a long time'.  Whether he believes the system has become less passive under his watch is unclear. While numbers on the unemployment benefit plummeted  during the early to mid- 2000s, numbers on other benefits have risen or remained fairly static."

"It is a great shame that the outgoing CE has waited until now to make these observations. And that s
enior public servants seem unable to draw public attention to matters of considerable national importance to the country within the boundaries of an apolitical civil service."

Lindsay Mitchell
Welfare Commentator
ph/fx 04 562 7944
mobile 021 132 5968

*
<http://www.msd.govt.nz/about-msd-and-our-work/publications-resources/journals-and-magazines/social-policy-journal/spj18/children-in-poor-families18-pages118-147.html>

Contact Lindsay Mitchell:

Ph/fx 04 562 7944
mob 021 132 5968

Lindsay@welfarereform.co.nz

Read Lindsay's Blog here.
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Many welfare models exist throughout the developed world.  New Zealand’s welfare system is unusual in two ways, firstly, because it is funded through general taxation. Secondly, [More...]