Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Help for the rich but not the poor

One of the few good moves in National's pre-election welfare policy was the decision to raise benefit abatement thresholds from $80 to $100/week. The move would have significantly improved the lot of those on benefits by enabling them to earn extra money through part-time work, and transition gradually into the workforce. It was also fundamentally fair - the threshold was set in 1996, and had not been changed since, leading to significant erosion over time.

I use the past tense in the above because National seems to have decided to shelve this plan. A cheap but effective move to help the poor in a time of economic recession is apparently no longer a priority for them. Instead, they'd rather spend the paltry amount it costs - a mere $17 million a year - on tax cuts for their rich mates instead.

(Oh, and also in the article, they're apparently "reviewing" MSD's Social Policy Journal, a key forum for the publication of debate and information about social policy in this country. I guess "social policy" really is a dirty word to National. Besides, closing it down means one less place to publish the inevitable reports into the harmful impacts of their policies. Expect them to shut down the annual Social Report as well. After all, who really needs annual statistics on key social indicators so we can track how well the government is doing...)