Monday, June 2, 2014

Lindsay Mitchell: More welfare changes on the way


The government has announced a rewrite of the Social Security 1964 Act, which is a massive maze of dated legislation.

I note that the cabinet minutes say:

- a rewrite of the Act would mean all aspects of the benefit system, including recent reforms, would be open for debate through the parliamentary process

- the rewrite [would] include consideration of policy change....[including] providing support for redirection of benefit payments and use of payment cards

An extension of 'income management' currently utilised for young beneficiaries was always on the cards. But there are other specific areas for reform including the way in which incomes are assessed against benefits.

There seems to be concern that the level of public interest will be high and that some of the proposals may contravene the Human Rights Act or the NZBOR. My reading of  this is a desire to provide more targeted assistance (or, indeed, method of support) over universal and that could raise issues of discrimination. But I am open to correction.

Proposals for policy changes are invited from the Minister to the Cabinet Social Policy Committee by the end of this year, with the new legislation introduced by December 2015.

Despite the press release claiming, "This work can’t be rushed," this is National pushing change along very quickly - par for the course over the first two terms.

Now all they need to do is get re-elected.

(After-thought. This presents ACT with a great opportunity to get some serious welfare reforms on the table.)

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