1/ Thousands fewer teenage parents on benefits
How much this is an effect of the welfare reforms is impossible to gauge without some sort of qualitative research. The teenage birth rate has dropped and as virtually all single teen parents go on welfare, the dependency levels have consequently fallen. A teenage birth is so often the beginning of a severely disadvantaged life for the mother, the child and the subsequent children that inevitably follow in quick succession. This fall will show social dividends in the coming decades. And that it is happening across all ethnicities is especially notable.
2/ Fewer sole parents on benefits
The work obligations on now stronger than they were under Labour. The number of sole parents has dropped by 11% since June 2009. But the work-testing is still too soft. In reality a parent can work as few hours as 12 a week from when her youngest goes to school until he or she is 14. And most importantly, if there are no work opportunities, too often the case in small towns, the work obligations are meaningless.
June 2009 83,387
June 2014 74,027
3/ Introduction of payment cards and money management
This may be an important factor in reducing the incentive to rely on welfare as a teenager. The regime can now be rolled out amongst older beneficiaries who are, for example, failing to provide for their children.
4/ Annual reapplication for the dole has seen people 'disappear' off roll
Thousands fewer people receive the dole after the government introduced a requirement to reapply annually in 2011.
5/ Removal of the sickness benefit.
There is now only Jobseeker or Supported Living benefits. Permanently incapacitated rely on the latter. Temporarily incapacitated go on the Jobseeker benefit.This increases the focus on getting temporarily incapacitated people well and employable.
6/ Partners of people who defraud WINZ are now liable
Much of the benefit fraud is by 'single' parents who have a partner. Welfare has made young, single mums vulnerable to spongers looking for a free ride. The ability to prosecute them might make a difference, although these predators are often law breaking, risk takers by nature. Too soon to tell
7/ Future liability has reduced slightly
Because the numbers of young and sole parents have reduced, and they typically have long stays on welfare, future liability has reduced.
8/ Existing long-term dependence has not improved
Most governments can chip away at the margins which feature employable people affected mainly by economic circumstances. Making inroads into long-term reliance on welfare is a much tougher ask.
At December 2013 143,000 people had been continuously on welfare for more than 4 years; 63,000 for more than ten years. These numbers are higher than when National became government. In December 2008 the respective numbers were 124,000 and 62,000.
9/ The Supported Living payment (ex Invalid Benefit) is continuing to attract transfers from other benefits
This continues to baffle researchers:
A higher than expected rate of transfer to Supported Living Payment is also occurring from both Jobseeker – HCID and Sole Parents.Back in the 1960s only around 1 percent of the population was 'permanently' incapacitated. That now stands at around 3%
10/ Children are being added to an existing benefit at an even greater rate than pre-reform
The policy intended to reduce this habit has failed. Individuals - especially Maori - continue to have babies when they are already unemployed and without any independent means to raise their children. In the six months ending March 31, 2006, 5854 children aged under one were added to a benefit. In the same period prior to March 2014 the number increased to 6634 - a 13% rise.
If you were to grade National, what would you give it?
Don Brash described the reforms as "a useful start". I thik that is quite apt. On the basis that much more is planned I'll give them a B-.