The In- Work Payment
By Dave Crampton
The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) has won the right to take legal action against the Government over a policy of
excluding beneficiary families from the $60.00 per week "in-work payment" that commences next year as part of the
Working for Families package. This payment replaces the $15.00 per week child tax credit, which was introduced instead
of inflation-adjusting family support.
The distinction is that family support is paid to all families, but the child tax credit is currently paid to low income
families who do not recieve a benefit. CPAG says that the in-work payment discriminates against beneficiary families,
including unemployed, sickness, invalids and DPB recipients, and thus breaches the Human RIghts Act. The group says that
children whose parents are on a benefit are discriminated against as they do not recieve the child tax credit, or will
not recieve the in-work payment.
But do you really think that the payments, in their entirety, go towards raising kids when they are actually paid to the
parents - a bit like child support payments? How do we know such payments are not going on the rent, the power or the HP
repayments? Perhaps this is why it is going to be called the in-work payment, to stop the pretence that the money in its
entirety goes towards raising kids.
If the in-work payment was paid to beneficiaries who were not in work, not only would that close the gap between welfare
and work for some, it will mean that other beneficiaries will get much more in the hand, as it will most likely be
classed as income for the purposes of the Special Benefit, meaning that those who recieve a Special Benefit will get a
reduction in that benefit due to the in-work payment, whereas earners will get no reduction in their salary unless it is
sufficiently high. That is also discriminatory, but what is CPAG saying about that?
And what about those beneficaries who turn down a job offer becvause the pay is too low of it is not their perfect job -
it would be absurd if they get the in-work payment. Another matter is those on the DPB who do not name their child's
father. They get about a $28.00 reduction in their benefit per child. If they were to name the father/s they`ll get more
increase in their benefit per child than any child tax credit.
Why should these mothers get the in work payment? The CPAG should be calling for that $28.00 be paid into a trust until
the children reach 18 if they really care about poverty. At least then they`ll be able to contribute toward their study
costs and minimise their student loans ( but then what does it matter if it is going to bee interest free, anyway).
Many people may not be aware that superannuitants and ACC beneficiaries will be able to get the in work payment,
provided they work 30 hours a week, or 20 hours for a sole parent.
The point of the in-work payment is to assist people who are in work, or, more correctly, not on a benefit. Yet a low
income family with three kids will get a maximum of just $15.00 extra with the payment. A benficiary family who gets a
job for 8 hours at $10.00 an hour and then gets the in work payment will get an extra $140.00 per week on top of their
benefit, and will not lose any of their family support payments.
WIth family support, the in-work payment, and the accommodation supplement, (not to mention the food grants) a family on
the unemployment benefit with three children would be getting over $16.00 per hour. So why would a partner take a $14.00
an hour job when they recieve the in-work payment ?
That's why the Government does not want the in work payment paid to beneficaries. In the unlikelihood of it losing the
case, whats the bet that the beneficiary abatement threshhold for earning will reduce from $80.00 to $20.00, thus
disadvantaging beneficaries without kids who work part time.
Wouldn't it be nice if wages were high enough for the in work payment to be unnecessary.