7 Aug 2022

National's welfare plan over-simplified and out of touch, opposing parties say

7:39 pm on 7 August 2022

Labour has lambasted National's welfare plan as over-simplified and out of touch, and they have been joined in that criticism by the Green Party.

Ricardo Menéndez March and Carmel Sepuloni.

Ricardo Menéndez March and Carmel Sepuloni. Photo: VNP / RNZ

Christopher Luxon used National's annual conference today to announce a new policy to allocate job coaches to beneficiaries under the age of 25.

Those who have been receiving welfare for more than a year - but then stay off for a year - would be eligible for a $1000 payment.

Minister of Social Development Carmel Sepuloni said there was no evidence that would work.

It was the "same old, same old, really, with regards to turning these young people into the villains and acting like they don't want to work", Sepuloni said.

"In reality, the vast majority do, they just need some support to make that happen, and we've been giving them that support."

The Green Party said the National Party's approach to increase beneficiary sanctions proved how out of touch it was with people on low incomes.

Social development spokesperson for the party, Ricardo Menéndez March, said there was no evidence to support that benefit sanctions would encourage people to get employment.

"It is clearer today than ever before that thousands of families will go hungry and cold under National. Only the Greens have a plan for liveable incomes, an end to punitive sanctions and employment schemes that guarantee at least a living wage and decent work.

"The leadership may be different but this year's conference shows a depressingly familiar side of the National Party. Much like his predecessors, Christopher Luxon is advocating for policies that will make it much harder for thousands of families to make ends meet, all while benefiting a wealthy few.

"Forcing people into employment, no matter how unsuitable, isn't the answer. Increasing benefit sanctions will simply push people into hardship and criminalise families who need support. And National continues to wilfully ignore the reality that many people on jobseeker benefits have health conditions and already do critical work such as caregiving and in the community.

"This is exactly what we have come to expect from National: Scapegoating the communities they claim to serve in the name of making the wealthy few even richer."

Meanwhile, the ACT Party described National's promise to end what it said was a free ride for young beneficiaries as good policy.

Leader David Seymour said welfare policy had to stop giving people an easy out from what could be an amazing life.

"It is good to focus on the young, that's where the best long term payoff comes from, but you haven't earned the right to languish on a benefit by turning 25. Obligations should continue regardless of age."

He said National's proposal was very similar to ACT's.

"National's announcement today shows how ACT and National together can not only change the government but change the direction of the country. We are thrilled to see our natural partner moving further towards our policy direction mutual obligation in welfare. It shows that ACT's ideas can drive real change for all New Zealand."

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