Yesterday we found out the National Party’s welfare reform agenda, Future Focus, is getting results. Prior to Future Focus there was no work expectation on sole parents until their youngest child was 18 years old.
“More than 10,600 sole parents on the DPB with children over six years old are now earning more than $100 a week”
What the government didn’t mention though is there is only 0.2% more people on the DPB earning extra income compared to 2008.
Patterns of work for sole parents clearly follow the job market and complementary initiatives such as Working for Families.
The Government also noted that “more than 171,000 benefits have been cancelled because people found work”
What they didn’t mention was the number of unemployed people has increased and the percentage of people receiving income support and working part time has decreased by over 4% since 2006.
And while there certainly are fewer people accessing income support we also know unemployment is at the highest level in ten years.
I know the figures I’ve chosen are equally open to critique but that’s my point really. When it comes to income support and employment I believe we need to look at trends, comparisons and qualitative outcomes and not just arbitrary isolated measures that may make a good soundbite but really tell us nothing.
What I’m hearing all around the country is that people are struggling to get work, and many more people are struggling to pay for the basics; roof, warmth and food, and increasingly it seems there is a section of our population opting out of the formal economy altogether.
If this is getting results, I have to ask what the goal was.