Back in the 90's, the Bolger-Shipley National government had a simple method of cutting welfare spending: don't tell people what they're entitled to. Now, they're doing it again, and the victims are some of our most vulnerable children:
More than 11,000 disabled children have lost access to a welfare benefit that is supposed to support them, as officials try to rein in previously-ballooning costs.
A Child Poverty Action Group report on disabled children, being launched in Auckland today, says children supported by the child disability allowance almost trebled from 17,600 in 1998 to 45,800 in 2009, but were then cut back to just 34,500 last June.
The cut has been achieved both by tightening criteria and by simply not publicising the allowance.
The government is saving $20 million a year from this stealth cut, which will no doubt make Bill English happy. But that "saving" comes at the cost of disabled kids not getting the support they need - which simply means higher costs elsewhere and later.
Every child in New Zealand should get a good start in life, regardless of whether their parents are rich or poor, regardless of whether they have a disability. And its the government's job to make that happen. Instead, National is kicking disabled kids when they're down. And that is simply vile. But isn't it so very, very National?