. . . You might think that if you’re on a benefit it’s a bad time to bring a child into the world. You’re probably like the overwhelming majority of New Zealanders who think it proper to wait, save and sacrifice before having children, in a comfortable environment, then stop when you feel your family is at a size you can support.
Chances are you don’t begrudge taxpayer support for people who fall on hard times, need to escape an abusive partner, or have any of a dozen other circumstances. But here is the interesting thing: being on a benefit seems to make you more likely to have children.
Only 10 per cent of working-age people are on a benefit, yet 20 per cent of children are born into families receiving benefits. In the six months to March 2015, 6000 babies were added to existing benefits. That’s enough to raise the hackles of those paying tax while preparing to have their own family, but worse is the outcomes for the kids involved.
Benefits seem to make people have kids early, a key risk factor for maltreatment. As of 2015, in the general population 22 per cent of births were to mothers 24 or younger, but 44 per cent of beneficiary caregivers (mostly mothers but sometimes fathers) with a child born that year were 24 or younger.
The ultimate result has been calamity for New Zealand kids. University of Auckland researchers have found that, of under-fives who faced maltreatment, 83 per cent were on benefits before age two. . .
That doesn’t mean being on a benefit causes people to abuse children but it does show those on benefits are more likely to be abusers.
Out of fairness to the taxpayer and the children, we need a new deal. It’s simply not good enough that the Government taxes some people, who are often waiting, saving, and sacrificing for parenthood, so that it can pay others to have kids earlier. It’s absolutely unacceptable when we know this policy is enlarging child poverty and abuse. We need to put children first.
If you’re 18 or younger, you can’t get an all-cash benefit from the Government. Instead it pays rent, power, and basic necessities before giving the remaining entitlement in cash. A compassionate government should attack child poverty by extending Income management to any parent who has additional children while on a benefit.
The message would be simple. If you want to have children while receiving a benefit that’s fine, but the Government will give entitlements in a form that puts the needs of the children first.
Beneficiaries get more money when they have more children.
Providing income management for those who have additional children while on a benefit will help them budget and provide for their families.
This isn’t beneficiary bashing.
No-one can blame children for their parents being benefit-dependent. If people can’t manage themselves and the state is paying them to look after their children it also has a responsibility to ensure that they do.