When the Government announced their reform plans this week we were hoping to see a reinstatement of the Training Incentive Allowance for higher level courses, as suggested by Social Development Minister Paula Bennett in a Cabinet paper signed off in October last year. It is very disappointing not to see this eventuate.
The TIA for higher level courses is proven to help people get off the DPB earlier and stay off it (the only other thing that seems to do that is a ‘catching’ a partner with a job). Reinstating the TIA would at least make the talk about an investment approach to welfare more plausible.
The government will pay for sub-degree courses up to level three. Many, though not all, of these courses will result in low paid jobs. Low paid jobs are often less flexible and it’s hard to stay in work when you’re struggling to pay for child care, or after school care and work around the needs of your children. Higher paid jobs are more likely to enable parents to successfully juggle family commitments. The evidence backs this up, clearly demonstrating that high level study enables people to get off the DPB earlier and stay off it longer.
I’ve written already about the personal pain this rule change has caused some women. As well as being a poor economic decision it’s also just unfair. When we have two pretty impressive women leaders in Parliament who both used the TIA to get their degrees I think we should all be able to see the potential of it.