One of National’s initiatives was to take an actuarial approach to welfare.
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett sought, and got, figures for the long-term cost of welfare then worked on policies which would help reduce it.
Among the initiatives she introduced were those aimed at reducing teen-births – and they’re working.
Lindsay Mitchell writes:
. . . For years I have agitated about the long-term DPB population being derived from teenage births. The children of these parents form the most at-risk group.
But from 2008 the number of teenage births started dropping. In 2013 there were 29 percent fewer than in 2009.
But even better, at March 2009 there were 4,425 teenage parents on any main benefit. By March 2014 the number had dropped to 2,560. A 42 percent reduction.
The really important news is it’s happening across all ethnicities.The proportions are reasonably stable.
In 2009, 52 percent were Maori; in 2013, 55 percent.
For Pacific Island, the proportion rose slightly from 9 to 11 percent.
NZ European dropped from 29 to 25 percent.
The percentage who are aged 16-17 dropped from slightly from 16.5 to 15%.
The percentage who are male is unchanged 4%.
This means thousands fewer children experiencing poor outcomes – ill-health, disconnect from education, in and out of fostercare, potentially abused and neglected, having the cards stacked against them from the outset.
Thousands of would-be teen mums will keep their own lives and potential, and hopefully have children when they are ready to.
It’s a fantastic development.
National deserve at least some credit for it with their new young parent mentoring and benefit management regime. . .
The government can’t claim all the credit, but it has played an important part.
Measures to reduce teen benefit dependency haven’t been punitive nor have they been cheap.
They have involved working with young people to help them turn their lives around for their own sakes and those of their children.
That has both social and financial benefits for them and for the rest of us.