The people behind tomorrow’s national day of action against welfare reforms simply don’t get it.
The reforms they’re protesting about aren’t desinged to villify beneficiaries. They’re designed with a mixture of carrot and stick to help them become independent.
The Listener gets it:
Although it’s true the Government is wielding a rather large stick, it also aiming to improve beneficiaries’ diets with plenty of carrots. And importantly, in many cases it is their children who will receive the real benefits.
Among beneficiaries there is a relatively low uptake of early childhood education. And yet, according to an OECD report, investment in early childhood education has among the highest net social benefits of all public investment, particularly for children who would otherwise be greatly disadvantaged.
Not all toddlers are lucky enough to spend their days with loving parents who play with them, cook with them, clean them, read to them and help them learn how the world works.
The sad truth that is that for some toddlers, a few hours each day at preschool – it might be a kohanga reo or other language nest – are likely to be far more nurturing and educational than those spent at home.
And in turn, the chances that their main caregiver might be able to give them a much better future are more likely to be enhanced if that person is engaged not just in a supportive community of other families but, eventually, in some kind of productive activity that brings in an income. . .
The statistics are quite clear – people in work are better off than those on welfare, even if they’re on a similar income.
It’s undeniable that, given the failure of this and most other governments to triumph over the global financial crisis, there will not always be jobs for beneficiaries in this new regime. But it is also undeniable these reforms are not solely about punishing vulnerable people. In some cases, it is about championing vulnerable people – who just happen to be under the age of five. . .
It’s not the children’s fault that their parents are on a benefit and that the family income is too low.
But it is successive governments’ fault that too many people have been allowed to languish on benefits when they could be working.
The reforms aim to get more people into work for their own sakes and for the sake of their children.