Thursday, 25 July 2013

Off with their benefits

I have to admit to falling prey to despair in the face of the latest example of incredible idiocy from those in charge of what is ironically known as "welfare". This month a blanket regime for "jobless" beneficiaries (including the ones already working extremely hard looking after people who have to be looked after) came into force.

Now we're seeing exactly how stupid this regime is. Grandparents - especially grandmothers - who have stepped in to take care of children bereft of their parents' care through death, illness or dereliction are being hounded to enrol in jobseeker courses, work out their "long-term career goals" and hunt for non-existent jobs. NO job could be more important or useful not just to their grandkids but to the rest of us as well, or save taxpayers more money, than the job they're currently doing - and for which they have in many cases already sacrificed their own earnings and any prospect of retirement.

But none of that seems to mean anything to those running the new regime. Today's Dominion Post reported.on the case of Denise Herman of Dannevirke, who has "single-handedly raised three of her grandchildren, and another foster daughter, for more than a decade." 

"Along the way, she has sacrificed her business, relationship and house to keep them out of foster care. She rescued her grandchildren from their parents after a Child, Youth and Family intervention. She said the parents struggled with drug addiction and spent time in prison. 'Without me, the kids would have been in foster care.'She has been able to care for them with the help of the domestic purposes and unsupported child benefits. She describes it as a fulltime occupation. On Monday, she will turn 64, and in a year she will be eligible for superannuation.But that has not stopped Work and Income telling her last month that she needed to look for a job or face having her support cut. She was enrolled in a six-month job-training course and asked to describe her skills, the last school she attended and her long-term career goals.'My long-term goal is to finally have some peace and rest,' she said. 'What a waste of money paying some training provider.'The Ministry of Social Development would not comment without a privacy waiver, which could not be obtained before publication."
This is pure lunacy, the work of a one-eyed concentration on just one thing: forcing down benefit numbers, regardless of the consequences. And because women are so much more likely than men to be on a benefit not because they are not working, but because they are doing vital unpaid work, it's likely to be women who get caught in this crazy catch-22 merry-go-round masquerading as social policy. 
Grandparents are not the only victims, they're just the most obvious example of a never generous but once more-or-less effective system of support that has been deliberately broken, and then broken again. I wonder if they're already hounding widowed Pike River mothers out to work too.


Hugh said...

It's the Indiana Jones approach to jobs - that they're out there, and the only reason people aren't finding them is that they're not prepared to undergo sufficiently insane feats of derring do to obtain them.

A better metaphor would be musical chairs. It doesn't matter how fast the music plays, someone's going to be left standing up when it stops.

K said...

Now minister has made appropriate U turn saying it wasn't her intention for this to happen. Whatever. She displays an appalling lack of understanding of her own legislation.

Psycho Milt said...

She displays an appalling lack of understanding of her own legislation.

Sure. It's kind of like when Bradford and Clark had S59 repealed - sensible enough on the face of it, but obviously a recipe for a shitload of seriously unpleasant unintended consequences for some unlucky individuals. Politicians are by-and-large fuckwits who shouldn't be let loose on a school board, let alone a government. At least in this particular case the old lady isn't facing having her kids taken off her and serious prospects of a criminal conviction.

Anonymous said...

It is also seriously affecting sickness beneficiaries. When I was in hospital, post surgery, unable to sit up, let alone stand and walk, I was informed that I had to see one of their doctors. The surgeon who worked on me wasn't actually good enough for them. So, while trying to heal and recover, I was stressed to the point of fearing having no home to return to. It took many phone calls to eventually talk to someone who could authorise my surgeon as capable of calling me bedridden and in physical therapy for 6 months. Its bloody insane! said...

And today a report on the incredible difference between how vigorously beneficiary debt to the state is pursued, compared with unpaid tax debt - although the tax debt is much, much bigger. Beneficiary debt of $9 million written off - compared with unpaid tax debt of $45 million written off.

Shawn Herles said...

The solution is simply to get rid of the welfare state in it's entirety. The State is not our friend.