Election 2011 - Party Policies - Social Welfare - Benefits

Election 2011 - Party Policies - Social Welfare - Benefits

Benefits

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  • People should have a choice as to what social services they buy and from whom.
  • Remove the politicians as far away from social policy delivery as possible.
  • Tax/benefit/welfare/savings reform is needed to encourage self-reliance and reduce dependency in retirement. (more here)

  • Set benefit amounts at a level sufficient for all basic needs of the individual/family.
  • Protect all benefit levels by linking rates to a fixed percentage of the average wage (like superannuation).
  • Replace the current Social Security Act 1964 with a simple two-tier benefit system consisting of a universal base rate that is enough to live on, with add-ons for specific circumstances, such as dependants, disability or chronic illness.
  • A Universal Child Benefit of $16.25 per week per child for the first child, $11.50 for subsequent children, with the ability to capitalise it towards a home deposit.
  • Abolish stand-down periods, treat people aged 18 and over as adults for benefit purposes; no forced work for the dole.
  • Support urgent Government action to address the problem of benefit abatement for those moving into employment, and the removal of the poverty trap created by high marginal tax rates that exist for people on low incomes.
  • Introduce a tax-free zone at the bottom end of the income scale.
  • DPB to be protected; no compulsory work-testing.
  • Appropriate training, vocational advice and support for sole parents.
  • Remove discrimination from tax credit regimes such as the In Work Payment component of Working for Families.
  • Support an allowance to beneficiaries who carry out a minimum number of hours of voluntary work per week.
  • Improve the culture of Work and Income so that people are treated with dignity and respect and are enable to access their full entitlements promptly.  (more here)

  • Labour will get young New Zealanders off the unemployment benefit and intoapprenticeships with an $8,727 (the equivalent of the dole payment) subsidy to employers willing to offer a permanent full-time job. There will also be 5,000 new training places for 16 and 17 year olds and 1,000 extra group and shared apprenticeships.
  • Labour will focus on increasing the proportion of disabled people who are supported into paid work. 
  • Labour will ensure that the Invalid’s Benefit is named more appropriately andcontinues to be paid at a higher level than short term benefits, and that that the Disability Allowance is available to continue to meet direct additional costs.
  • Labour was fundamentally opposed to the National Government’s Future Focus legislation and have serious concerns about the changes to the Sickness and Invalid’s benefit. Labour believes that welfare reform should ensure that help is made available to those who need it and that an intensive case management system exists to ensure that the different needs of individuals are taken into account.
  • Labour will immediately restore $2 million to the Training Incentive Allowance and commit to further increases over time so people on social welfare benefits can obtain qualifications that give greater opportunity for themselves and their children.
  • Labour will expand access to PATHS (Providing Access to Health Solutions), as resources permit, to help those on the sickness benefit and partnering with employers to provide supported employment for people with disabilities.
  • Labour will treat voluntary work with a recognised non-government organisation (NGO) as providing a service to the community because without the voluntary sector, much work would not be done in New Zealand. (more here)

  • Introduce a scheme to create new community service jobs for those currently unemployed.  This would involve work in schools, hospitals, retirement villages, kuia/koroua flats, and community organisations.  Workers would be paid the minimum wage instead of a benefit, and workplace adult literacy and numeracy learning would be provided where required.
  • Provide a one-off hardship grant of $1,000 for every person aged 18 and over who is on an income of $30,000 or less, or on a benefit or in low paid work – by Christmas 2011 – to enable them to address immediate needs.
  • Lift benefits to at least pre 1991 equivalent levels immediately.  Benefit levels were slashed in 1991 to below minimum levels needed to maintain an adequate standard of living.  They have never been restored.
  • Extend the in-work tax credit to the children of beneficiary parents.  This would immediately lift incomes for beneficiary families.
  • Redirect some accommodation supplement funds to enable many more beneficiaries and other low income earners to rent from state, iwi, and community owned housing providers on an income related basis, or participate in rent-to-buy initiatives, rather than continuing to provide subsidies to private landlords.
  • Work towards implementing a Universal Tax Credit or Universal Basic Income where everyone in Aotearoa aged 18 and over would receive a minimum, liveable, tax free income, after which progressive tax would kick in.  This would eliminate the huge costs involved in administering the current shame and blame Work & Income system, end poverty traps, and assist in creating a far more equal society. (more here)

Not set out on their website.

  • Require schools to tell the Government when 16 and 17-year-olds leave during the year.
  • Funding for organisations to give support, and arrange education, training, and access to social services.
  • Payment cards that can only be used for essentials.
  • All young beneficiaries must be in education or training. (more here)

  • Ensure that sickness and invalids beneficiaries seek treatment for their incapacity where this is appropriate as a condition of their benefit, and make funding available to provide treatment where it is likely to hasten their return to work.
  • Closely monitor the effectiveness of enhanced case management approach currently applied to domestic purposes recipients, to ensure that they move into appropriate employment as their children get older.
  • Ensure that jobseekers have access to vacancies in other regions, and increase relocation grants for those who have to move to take up employment.
  • Assess those who have been unemployed for a year or more for work readiness. If they are not work-ready then they will be referred to training and other services (e.g. health) that will help them to be. If they are work-ready they will undertake part-time work on a community project or for a voluntary agency of their own choosing, or they will be placed in wage-subsidised employment, where they will receive in-work training. Priority for wage-subsidised places will be given to the older unemployed and those with disabilities.
  • Allow for the ‘micro-management’ of a small group of beneficiaries who struggle to budget and pay for the basics of living to ensure that these basics are being met, especially for households with children (ensuring that utilities are paid, children are clothed, school fees are paid). (more here)
  • Overhaul the child support system so that it is flexible enough to reflect the complexities of raising children when parents are seperated and both parents contribute to the care of their children. Calculations may need to consider the income of both the custodial and liable parent, the cost of raising a child and the best way to measure care other than bed nights.
  • Raise carer rates for grandparents to that enjoyed by foster parents, including additional assistance and support. This may be respite care, grants for sports gear, legal aid and other such expenses or other help in areas to be determined by grandparents themselves. (more here)

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