The Social Services Select Committee has now heard all oral submissions on the “Supporting Children in Hardship Bill“. 21 written submissions on the Bill were received by the Committee and all are available to read online.
While most of the submissions welcomed the extra $25.00 for beneficiary households with dependent children, most questioned whether the associated work obligations would help or hinder the very children and families/whanau the Bill seeks to help. The submissions are all well worth a read and provide a good overview of issues and solutions the Select Committee must now work through before it reports to Cabinet in November 2015.
NZCCSS’ oral submission focussed on the need for more discretion by Work and Income staff as more work obligations are placed on beneficiaries. This is in response to recent official data that identified more than 80,000 beneficiaries had been sanctioned over 14-month period because someone missed a single appointment. “The impact of a losing a week’s pay in vulnerable families often throws them into utter chaos. Power bills don’t get paid, food doesn’t get bought, the potential to be thrown out of your house increases dramatically“. In an environment of stringent financial sanctions, and increased work obligations for some of our most vulnerable families, the mix is ripe for further hardship as families struggle to meet work obligations. Read NZCCSS’ full submission here.