28 February 2012
Work Ethic Better Than Welfare Dependency for Families
Family First NZ says that the welfare changes proposed by the government will encourage a work ethic rather than welfare
dependency, and will be in the long term best interests of the families and children.
"While we acknowledge the importance of welfare as a safety net for extreme circumstances, long-term welfare dependency
can reduce work effort, can promote the rate of unmarried teen mothers, exacerbates the problem of poverty-prone
single-parent families, and reduces marriage rates,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“Long term dependency harms children through poorer social, health and educational outcomes. There is no evidence that
increasing benefits and widening the net of welfare will improve children's lives. In fact, the opposite is true. The
Ministry of Social Development said that substantial research shows that ‘girls who grow up in families that receive
welfare are themselves more likely to receive welfare once they are adults’. We need to break this cycle of dependency.”
However, Family First warns that any proposals to make parents of school-age children work should not be at the expense
of the important role of parents - especially sole parents - to meet the daily needs of their children.
“Part time work with flexibility would be a win-win situation but the age of the children is an important factor,” says
Mr McCoskrie. “We would prefer the part-time work requirement to exist up to the age of 16 or 17, as 14 and 15 year olds
can still be vulnerable if there isn’t appropriate supervision.”
“It’s time that we acknowledged that the availability of welfare can play an important role in influencing family
breakdown, and an example of this is that up to half of current DPB recipients started on welfare as teenagers. 20% of
women on the DPB have had additional children while on the benefit. One would hope that the one year old work
requirement for ‘serial’ DPB recipients will act as a deterrent.”
“We also need to realise how demoralising and devastating an absence of a work ethic – whether paid or voluntary – is to
both adults and the whole family. At the moment, welfare simply isn’t working as it was intended,” says Mr McCoskrie.
“Welfare needs to be a vital hand-up, not a hand-out with no expectations or accountability.”