John Key calls benefit shake up a 'kick in the pants'

  • 23/03/2010

By Rebecca Wright

The Government’s new rules for beneficiaries are a kick in the pants, John Key has said.

In future, solo parents will have to work for the Domestic Purposes Benefit (DPB), at least part-time, once their youngest child is over six.

Those wanting sickness benefits will also have to work if they’re assessed as being capable.

Those who do not comply will face a new penalty – their benefit may be immediately halved at any stage, for such things as failing to turn up to a job interview.

Sickness beneficiaries will have their claims re-examined frequently and may be sent for a check-up to a doctor of the Government’s choice.

Both unemployment and sickness benefits will now be one year only, then you will need to reapply.

Mr Key calls it a “package designed to help those who need it” and “a kick in the pants to those who need that”.

Talking tough on beneficiaries is a traditional National Party preoccupation and today the Government followed through – announcing it is cracking down.

“Too many people have become trapped in a life of welfare,” says Social Development Minister Paul Bennett.

“Existing from week-to-week on a minimal income, trying to juggle bills, clothing, food, and looking after families.”

First in the firing line are solo parents on the domestic purposes benefit. Solo parents, whose youngest child is over six, will be work tested, and may have to work between 15 and 29 hours each week.

If they don’t comply, their DPB will be cut in half.

Ms Bennett says that, starting in October, the Government is looking at getting long-term welfare dependants, who are “certainly making no moves to get off”, into work.

The unemployed will also have to prove they’re pounding the pavements looking for work, or face a three-strike penalty of their own.

For failing to meet their work test commitments the first time, the benefit will be cut by 50 percent.

One a second strike, the benefit is suspended.

The third time, the beneficiary will have their benefit cancelled altogether.

The idea is the beneficiary has an obligation to their fellow taxpayers to do everything they can to get a job.

Those on the dole for longer than a year will also have an extra hoop to jump through – reapplying after 12 months.

Sickness beneficiaries also face tough new hurdles and could also lose their benefit if they don’t comply.

National talked tough on welfare during the election and today it delivered. These proposals will now face Select Committee scrutiny.

The Maori Party says cracking down on the DPB mums might be too tough and it may not support those measures.

But National has ACT on side, and so most of these changes are likely to become law.

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source: newshub archive