social development minister Paula BennettMonday 17 September 2012, 2:43PM
Media release from social development minister Paula
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett today introduced the
second stage of legislation to comprehensively reform the welfare
"In line with our manifesto commitments, the Government is taking
an active, work-based approach," says Mrs Bennett.
The Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment
Bill includes simplified benefit categories, a greater work focus,
new expectations for partners of beneficiaries, work preparation
As recently announced the Bill will also require Jobseekers to be
drug-free, it will allow benefits to be stopped for outstanding
arrest warrants and includes social obligations to ensure children
access health and education services.
Three new benefit types will replace the seven current benefit
categories, in addition to the new Youth Payment and Young Parent
Payment introduced in August. The new categories included in this
• Jobseeker Support for those actively seeking
and available for work
• Sole Parent Support for sole parents with
children under 14 years
• Supported Living Payment for people
significantly restricted by sickness, injury or disability.
Individuals receiving Jobseeker Support will have work expectations
set depending on their capacity - full time, part time or
"Jobseeker Support will include those capable of work and those who
are temporarily exempt, but will soon be able to work," says Ms
"From October this year, sole parents are expected to be available
for part-time work when their youngest is school-age and available
for full-time work when their youngest turns 14. Like most New
Zealanders, I think that's absolutely reasonable."
This Bill will see those with children under 14 years receive Sole
Parent Support and those with children older than 14, receive
Those currently on the Sickness Benefit will be included in
Jobseeker Support and, according to work capability, will have a
part-time or full-time work expectation or a temporary exemption
until they are work-ready.
These changes will result in a significantly larger number of
people on Jobseeker Support (135,000) than the Unemployment Benefit
The current 12 month reapplication for the Unemployment Benefit
will apply to all those on the new Jobseeker benefit.
"Benefit rates will remain unchanged and there will be extra
support for those who want to work but need more help to get them
ready," says Mrs Bennett.
Those currently receiving Women Alone or Widows Benefit will retain
their higher rate of benefit when they transfer to Jobseeker
Support and along with those on the DPB, they'll also retain
current part-time benefit abatement rules.
An actuarial valuation based on the expected durations of all
current beneficiaries shows the lifetime costs to be $78
The investment approach will target interventions to those who are
likely to become welfare dependent long-term, without significant
"Budget decisions are yet to be made for 2013, but we remain in
line with cost estimates of $520 million and savings of up to $1.6
billion over four years for the total welfare reform
The changes in the Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work
Focus) Amendment Bill will come into effect from July 2013. The
Bill will be read for a first time in the coming weeks and go
through a full select committee process.
Due to the comprehensive changes to the welfare system that are
underway, benefit figures will be reported in full on a quarterly
basis. This will provide a more meaningful and in depth time series
than monthly updates can deliver.