Children bear brunt of punitive sanctions
Our poorest children are bearing the brunt of benefit cuts intended to penalise parents who do not met work obligations.
Information received from Work and Income NZ under the Official Information Act shows a significant number of people on benefits with dependent children are having their benefits halved for not meeting work obligations. In 2010 the government introduced changes to welfare, with increased obligations for people on benefits to take on paid work and penalties for those who do not meet those obligations.
CPAG has received figures from Work and Income NZ under the Official Information Act which give a snapshot of the situation as at the end of August 2012. The figures show at that time 377 people with dependent children had had benefits reduced by 50%. The majority of those (234) were sole-parents receiving the DPB. In 84 cases, the youngest child in the family was younger than five. In 63 cases, the reduction had lasted over four weeks.
CPAG Director, Assoc Prof Michael O’Brien said, “We are extremely concerned for the children in families where benefit income is reduced by half. Benefit levels provide a subsistence level of support at best and these children almost certainly lead very impoverished lives already. We know poverty can have life-long consequences on children’s health, education and well-being. The government has failed to take the needs of extremely vulnerable children into account in their ideological zeal for work at any cost. In a period of high unemployment and rising costs this amounts to state neglect.”