The Welfare Working Group’s report slipped off the radar when the Christchurch earthquake struck the day after it was released.
But the government has put welfare back on the agenda.
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has announced the formation of a special Ministerial group to work on reforms.
The report had a wide range of recommendations and Paula says:
“At this stage Ministers aren’t ruling out any recommendations, except requiring sole parents to look for work when any additional child born while on welfare, is 14 weeks old. That is a step too far for this Government.”
Not ruling out the other recommendations doesn’t mean they will be adopted. It means the group is taking an open minded approach to a very serious problem.
The group’s members are: Hon Paula Bennett – Social Development and Employment; Hon Bill English – Finance; Hon Simon Power – Justice; Hon Tony Ryall – Health and State Services; Hon Anne Tolley – Education; Hon Steven Joyce – Tertiary Education; Hon Hekia Parata – Women’s Affairs
Other Ministers will attend meetings as required.
This is a very high powered group, reflecting the importance of the work it must do.
A compassionate society must provide assistance for those in genuine need. But it is not good for the people receiving the help or those paying for it if those who could look after themselves don’t.
There are few, if any answers to welfare reform and some of the solutions will be more expensive than the status quo, at least in the short term.
But for economic and social reasons we can’t keep letting people languish on benefits as a way of life if they could be supporting themselves.