Giving welfare to a couple earning up to $150,000 a year is bad enough, but now the details of Labour’s baby bribe are being released we find that people earning up to twice that could qualify.
. . . Labour leader David Cunliffe has confirmed that the income threshold would apply to what a family expects to earn in the year ahead, not what they earned in the year before the birth.
Under Labour’s policy, it is possible that families earning well over $200,000 before the birth of their child would be eligible for the benefit. . . .
Take a couple each earning $150,000 a year before the baby is born.
The woman takes paid parental leave – extended to 26 weeks under Labour – and when it runs out decides not to return to work until the baby is at least one.
They will already have received the highest possible paid parental leave payments and will now be eligible for the baby bribe of $60 a week for the next 26 weeks.
That is an extreme example but incomes well below this are still too high for welfare.
Labour is a fan of the so-called living wage of $18.40 an hour which is about $38,000 a year.
No-one would call that wealthy, even with what working for families would add on top of that.
But it is by the proponents of the living wage say it is:
. . . the minimum wage necessary for a worker to survive and participate in society. It reflects the basic expenses of workers and their families such as food, transportation, housing and child care.
If just over $38,000 a year, without the working for families supplement on top, is enough for a family of two to survive and participate in society, why is Labour extending welfare to people earning up to $300,000?
Had they offered $60 a week to people earning up to the so-called living wage it would have been difficult to argue against.
Even if they’d extended it to a family on $50,000, who currently pay no net tax if they have two children thanks to working for families, opponents would have found little fertile ground on which to sow their criticism.
But giving welfare to people on well above what Labour accepts as enough, even if there weren’t more pressing needs for taxpayer funding would be questionable.
When there are so many higher priorities, including helping vulnerable children and giving them the best start possible, the policy is irresponsible and show a reckless disregard for public money and those most in need.
It’s easy enough to criticise a policy from which I wouldn’t benefit, but at least one potential recipient is principled enough to say it’s wrong:
Dr. Jane Silloway Smith, Research Manager at independent think tank Maxim Institute and soon to be mother of two, questions how helpful Labour’s Best Start for Children package—and an extension of paid parental leave as indicated by National today—are, calling them poorly targeted to the problem of child poverty and a waste of money.
Smith says: “While there is little doubt that a child’s experiences and care in the first few years of life are vitally important, it’s hard to see how Labour’s intended spending will have as profound of an impact on child poverty as they anticipate.”
“My husband and I are both working, and I am seven months pregnant with our second child. We are a family who would benefit under Labour’s Best Start for Children package—but we shouldn’t.”
“Children are expensive even in two professional-income households like ours, but my husband and I are fortunate enough to be able to handle that financial burden and still be able to make decisions that are in the best interests of our family. Fourteen weeks of paid parental leave are nice, and getting even more leave and $60 a week in our new baby’s first year would be appreciated, but it’s far from necessary in cases like ours.”
“There will be some Kiwi families who will truly be helped out by the additional cash. But for so many others the money will be wasted either because the family doesn’t really need it or because there are bigger issues in the family home than mere money can solve—drug and alcohol addictions, lack of family or community support, or volatile adult relationships.”
“Governments have a limited budget, and as a policy researcher, I hate to see any government spending its money on pointless programmes. There are families out there who can’t make the choices that my husband and I can make for our family. So instead, it would be great to see Labour target their spending on families who could really use the money, while diverting the savings from handing out upper-middle class welfare to invest in community initiatives and programmes that have demonstrated an impact on the bigger issues some families face.”
“If any government is going to hand out money, I’d like to see them putting it towards helping families in real need, rather than simply padding the bank accounts of families like mine.”
The necessity to address real need is the point of opposition to Labour’s policy.
New Zealand is facing many pressing needs and it is those to which any spare money should be directed, not welfare for people well able to look after themselves and their children.