Catherine Delahunty

Paula Bennett: Celebrating social policy failure while refusing to answer questions on Christchurch

by Catherine Delahunty

Yesterday, the Minister of Social Development and Employment issued this bizarre media release:

Recently released figures show that Work and Income are helping more people in need says Social Development Minister Paula Bennett.

“Special Needs Grants for hardship have increased by over 50 per cent since March 2008,” says Ms Bennett.

“So yes, that does mean that more people have been asking for help, but it also means that they getting it,” says Ms Bennett.

Yes, Paula is celebrating because the number of people receiving emergency hardship assistance has increased by 50% since she has been the Minister!

Of course she doesn’t tell us how many people, like “Maree”, whose case was reported in the NZ Herald yesterday, have been refused Special Needs Grants because of this rule she introduced:

In order to receive a Special Needs Grant a client must: …

  • have taken reasonable steps to improve their financial circumstances including completing a budgeting activity (if required)…

Perhaps I should ask her.  But I‘ll probably just get an answer like this one to questions I recently asked her:

Question: How many people were receiving the unemployment benefit in Christchurch on February 22nd 2010?

Answer Text: To meet the public interest in benefit uptake the Ministry of Social Development releases quarterly benefit factsheets. I am not prepared to commit resources to releasing daily or weekly information to respond to written parliamentary questions as this is not well suited to establishing firm trends. The quarterly factsheets for the end of March 2011 will be available shortly. This is also my response to written parliamentary questions 2032, 2033, 2034 (2011).

That’s right – even given the devastation of the February 22 earthquake, this Minister thinks it is a waste of resources to keep tabs on benefit uptake by the dispossessed of Christchurch!

I’m at a loss for words [actually, I never am, but the words that spring to mind in this instance would be unbecoming for an MP to use in a public forum].

Published in Economy, Work, & Welfare by Catherine Delahunty on Fri, April 8th, 2011   

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