This week we’ve seen genuine progress in turning our welfare system around, from one which punishes and stigmatizes people who need support, to one that treats them with dignity and respect.
Benefit sanctions are decreasing
Last month, the Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni made a change to Work and Income’s policy so any decision to suspend a benefit had to be approved by a second senior official. This came after horrendous stories in the media of people having their support cut off because they dared to go on a few dates, or tried to do the right thing and tell Work and Income about changes to their situation.
In just a month, the number of benefits being suspended every day has dropped from over 100 to 80.
But this is still happening too often
Eighty benefits being suspended each day is still too many. We already know that benefit levels aren’t adequate to support people to live a basic, decent life. Losing any of that money for any amount of time makes people’s lives more precarious. How do you pay rent when you’ve lost all or even half your income? We need a social security system that makes people’s lives more secure not less.
We need a total overhaul of the welfare system. And that’s underway right now, with the Welfare Expert Advisory Group looking at a huge range of issues: sanctions, benefit levels, improving Working for Families, and how the welfare system plugs into other areas like ACC, education, housing, health and justice.
Marama Davidson and I talked about the Group’s work in a livestream on the day they were launched which you can watch below. This is something we have campaigned for. This is something we are driving in the Labour-led government, and a major part of our confidence and supply agreement.
It is a massive piece of work, changing the culture of our welfare system towards compassion and respect after thirty years of focusing on punishment. But that’s the kind of work we in the Greens got into Parliament for, and why we signed up to support this Labour-led government.
I'm with Jan Logie MP to discuss the planned overhaul of the welfare system. We've gathered questions on the Green Party page yesterday and we're taking the time to answer some today 💚"Authorised by Marama Davidson, Parliament Buildings, Wellington. Funded by Parliamentary Service."[Captions to come]
Posted by Marama Davidson MP on Tuesday, 29 May 2018