Thursday, April 27, 2006

An obvious step

The government has announced its latest changes to the welfare system: providing employment assistance and training to all beneficiaries rather than just those on the unemployment benefit. It's an obvious step, and one which demonstrates the clear difference in approaches to welfare policy between the two main parties. National favours coercive and punitive solutions, seeing beneficiaries as malingerers who need to be forced into work and punished for not doing so. By contrast, Labour recognises something that National doesn't: that most beneficiaries actually want to work (people don't actually like being poor, strangely) and that all they need is a bit of help. Providing training, assistance with childcare, transport and establishment costs, proper medical care if they are sick, and of course help in finding work that matches their circumstances results in people moving off benefits faster than if they are simply assessed and abandoned - and without causing the misery and suffering of National's financial sticks.

By all accounts this approach has been very successful in trials, with over 90% voluntary uptake and 20% of participants able to be channelled towards full- or part-time work. But one thing you do have to ask is why the hell they weren't doing this already?


National did so by introducing the work test and was criticised for doing it - and why isn't there a 100% take up.

Posted by Anonymous : 4/27/2006 02:24:00 PM

anonymous - what was the environment that they created around this work test? It was basically, we think you can work so piss off and get a job.(i know from personal experience as i was unemployed at that time)

Works fine for some but then those people can probably find jobs on their own anyway.

What about those who are completely trapped by their poverty or lack of education? When you have felt for years that the situation is hopeless its very hard to change that mindset and achieve something.

Yes its up to people to get off their arses and make the best of their situation - its what i did and i went from a unemployed bum to a higly skilled and well paid professional.

What made the difference for me? A bit of faith, guidance and encouragment from others. It was that and pretty much that alone that gave me the confidence to push myself to succeed.

We have to ask ourselves whether it is better to help people and try and insure that they end up contributing to the economy or leave them to their own devices and just hope they contribute.

Also, what is the overall cost to society of not helping people? (crime, lack of a skilled workforce etc)


Posted by Anonymous : 4/27/2006 04:33:00 PM

These changes make me really nervous. I think they're generally heading in a bad direction. There's a very fine line at WINZ between available and compulsory, and there shouldn't be.

I've written a bit about it on my blog.

Posted by Maia : 4/27/2006 05:49:00 PM