INDEPENDENT NEWS

More Sole Parents - More Dead-End Dependency

Published: Mon 9 Dec 2002 04:49 PM
More Sole Parents - More Dead-End Dependency
According to latest statistics released from the March 2001 Census, 29 percent of families with dependent children (140,175) have only one parent. This is up from 24 percent in 1991.
In March 2001, according to WINZ, a total of 102,634 sole parents were receiving Domestic Purposes Benefit. There were also 5,457 Sole Parents receiving an Unemployment Benefit, 940 receiving a Sickness Benefit, 3,457 receiving an Invalids Benefit, 1,802 receiving Widows Benefit and 1,693 receiving Emergency Benefit.
This gives a total of 115,983 making eighty three percent of sole parents reliant on a benefit. The financial cost to the country in benefits alone is around 2 billion dollars. This is about a quarter of what the government spends on either health or education or double what it spends on defence.
The obvious conclusion is that we need to get existing sole parents into work and discourage further people from becoming dependent sole parents. With this in mind what did Labour do straight after the election with the support of United Future and the Greens? They passed legislation to make it easier to get on the DPB (a person can now move straight from work onto the DPB instead of having to wait for 13 weeks) and easier to stay on the DPB (nobody has to work until their youngest child is 18).
Does anybody believe that this government is genuinely aiming for economic growth when it encourages more people to become reliant on the state? Leading people by the nose into dead-end dependency isn't good for the country and it isn't compassionate.
To paraphrase political commentator Colin James who recently noted, "(This government's aim) is a more socially equitable society....the means is by redistribution of resources ...that needs high relative incomes overall.... which requires faster economic growth."
That is a paradox. Robbing Peter to pay Paul actually robs them both of their incentive to work
Look out for dependency numbers to grow over the next few years. It will get worse before more people wake up to Labour's only agenda - securing a third term in office. Whether they will wake up in time to provide enough of a constituency for real reform is a question I prefer not to dwell on.
Lindsay Mitchell
Petitioner for a Parliamentary Review of the DPB
e-mail dandl.mitchell@clear.net.nz
ph/fx 04 562 7944

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