Hon Paula Bennett on Welfare Reforms – Sole Parents

Hon Paula Bennett on Welfare Reforms – Sole Parents


You know no one says that it’s easy being
on a benefit and particularly if you are a mum or a dad raising children and you trying
to do everything you possibly can and least of all me. I have been there, I’m quite proud of where
I have been and I am certainly proud of where I am now. But we can’t simply say that the system is
working for everyone. Are wrapping the right support around those
parents that are on the DPB? Is it fair that we have a Widow’s Benefit
that women can get that men can’t? You know women alone, quite frankly I find
it offensive that a woman 50 years or older is sort of cast on this scrap heap of not
worth anything in this country and isn’t valued. So those things needed to change. So we are bringing those Widow’s and Woman’s
Alone [benefits] more in line with where it should be in the policies we have for others
that are on benefits as well. That doesn’t mean that it is uncompromising
we will make sure that there is time for people to adjust to new circumstances but it does
mean that we put some sort of expectations there. The changes to the DPB are that you will be
work tested when your youngest is five years old and now you will be full time work tested
when your youngest is 14. It has been in the past when your youngest
is 18 years so we have people that have been on the benefit for not just ten not just 20
but actually we’ve got some that have been there for 35 years as have had [more] children
while on benefit and of course with that work test not until they are 18 just seemed ludicrous. Now lets get a few things straight. The first thing is that if you are on a benefit
[that you are] work tested when your youngest is 5 we expect you to be available for work,
if you can’t find a job then their benefit will not be cut all we’re asking is that people
are available for work and actively going out there and looking for it and I think that
that is eminently fair and plausible and what we should be expecting of those that are on
the benefit. Now we also talk about subsequent children. To be clear about 29% of those on benefit
are on the DPB and there’s about 100,000 how have had a subsequent child while there. 4,800 babies were born last year to women
on benefit. The actual demographic of those woman and
their children are that they are most likely to have poorer education outcomes health outcomes
and live in poverty for much longer and have long term benefit receipt. They are predominately teen parents with that
first child. They are young, they have no work history,
they have certainly no education attainments and that is tough. We have to change that cycle. We have to circuit break it. So if they have another baby while on benefit
they will be work tested when that baby is one year old and dependant on the youngest
age of the previous child and it is only fair actually a whole lot of women work now. In fact 69% of partnered women and more than
50% of sole parents are currently in work. You can do it but we have to make a difference. We are offering a lot more support around
those women as well and it will make a difference. This is fair we’ve seen 16% increase of women
on the DPB going into work in the last two years because of the changes we made two years
ago. We can make a difference for them and a life
time on welfare is not good for them and it is certainly not good for their children.

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