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It’s all in the numbers!

The 2015 Valuation of the Benefit System for Working-age Adults is out and it seems $12 billion tax payers dollars have been saved over four years in welfare payments and the welfare reforms are at the centre of this achievement.

An investment approach underlies the welfare reforms and the goal is reduce long-term benefit receipt and its associated social and financial outcomes.

Annual actuarial valuations of the lifetime cost of working-age beneficiaries would seem to be the dominant evaluation tool to measure these outcomes.

People generally understand the reasons behind an investment approach that allocates public spending to where there will be the most benefit over the long run.

For many Christians, however, it is a very big stretch to understand why human frailty and capability have become financial liability and cost to the public purse?

Language and the values represented matter, along with the value and dignity of people in need!

A loss of human empathy and compassion for the ‘least of these’ is the liability most at risk when applying an actuarial approach.

Let’s put humanity at the centre of public policy discussions and talk compassion and not cost.

“The June 2015 Taylor Fry valuation shows the impact Work and Income is able to make through working intensively with clients to overcome barriers to work, with a $2.2 billion reduction in liability in the year to June 2015, taking the total cost of the current benefit liability to $68.4 billion.

“Over half of this reduction in the last year relates to those receiving Sole Parent Support, with higher exit rates for those receiving Jobseeker Support and fewer people returning to benefits making up the remaining reduction.

“The valuation also identified an overstatement in the exit rates for Youth Payment clients under 19 published in the 2014 valuation. The 2015 report shows that the proportion not on benefits by 19 actually grew from 47 per cent in June 2012 to 53 per cent in June 2014, and now sits at 55 per cent. Minister Anne Tolley

Working your way out of poverty

The assumption that any type of work equates to an effectiveness pathway out of poverty also needs to be unraveled.

Feedback from our member agencies indicate the reality of work for many of the families/whanau they see is low-skilled, low-paid and temporary work that is often outside of usual working hours. The hidden costs of work (transport, childcare, clothing) barely leave enough resources for rent, electricity and food. See NZCCSS; submission on the Hardship Bill for more insights.