The Government has no evidence that its regime of benefit cuts will move anyone from a benefit into work, the Green Party said today.
“This Bill is pure ideological beneficiary bashing,” Green Party Work and Income Spokesperson Catherine Delahunty said.
“There is no evidence to suggest it will actually achieve its stated goal of moving more people into work. The Government knows this, but has chosen to introduce it anyway because it is politically convenient. It’s incredibly irresponsible policy-making.”
Ms Delahunty said John Key and Paula Bennett had been offensive and disrespectful to beneficiaries, saying that they need ‘a kick in the pants’ and are making a ‘lifestyle choice’ to be on a benefit.
“When questioned by the Greens in Parliament the Prime Minister could not provide even a ballpark figure for the number people targeted by these changes.*
“The Government’s own Regulatory Impact Statement on the Bill says that there is no research available to quantify the effect of the changes, and that this prevents estimates from being made of the number of people who will move from a benefit to work as the result of the proposed changes.
“Furthermore, research from Australia on the impact of similar reforms there shows that they do not work to move people into work.
“Is this Government so obsessed with catching up with Australia that it wants to emulate even its failed policies?”
Research by the Australian Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations found that changes similar to those proposed in New Zealand did not slow the numbers going onto the disability pension, made little progress moving people with disabilities off benefits and into work, and had only ‘modest’ effects on the work-rates of the very long-term unemployed and mature-age job-seekers.
Ms Delahunty said the Government was ignoring the fact that there are already strict rules about looking for work while on the benefit.
“The problem is not with the welfare system, it’s the fact that there aren’t enough jobs for people to go to. Making the system even more punitive will achieve nothing, and cause further harm.
“Beneficiaries make meaningful contributions to society – they pay taxes, volunteer in their communities, and support children and other family members. They deserve to be treated with respect,” Ms Delahunty said.
*The question was answered on behalf of the Prime Minister.