Minor parties Act and the Greens have responded to the policies aimed at beneficiaries announced by Chris Luxon at the National party conference earlier today.
Under National, those aged under 25 and out of work for more than three months will be assigned a job coach and a plan for entering employment. If they fail to follow the plan or do not attend meetings they will face benefit sanctions.
“Forcing people into employment, no matter how unsuitable, isn’t the answer,” said Green Party spokesperson for social development, Ricardo Menéndez March.
“Increasing benefit sanctions will simply push people into hardship and criminalise families who need support. And National continues to wilfully ignore the reality that many people on jobseeker benefits have health conditions and already do critical work such as caregiving and in the community.
“The leadership may be different but this year’s conference shows a depressingly familiar side of the National Party. Much like his predecessors, Christopher Luxon is advocating for policies that will make it much harder for thousands of families to make ends meet, all while benefiting a wealthy few.
“This is exactly what we have come to expect from National: scapegoating the communities they claim to serve in the name of making the wealthy few even richer,” Menéndez March said.
Meanwhile Act leader David Seymour said he welcomed National’s proposals. “Requiring case management for long term and young beneficiaries is good policy,” he said.
“Act has long said welfare should inspire people to be the best that they can be. Welfare policy has to stop constantly telling people they can’t achieve and giving them an easy out from what could be an amazing life.
He noted that National’s policy aligns with Act’s own policy on long-term beneficiaries, the differences being that Act would “apply sanctions to beneficiaries of all ages if they’re capable of working, not only those who are under 25”, and it would use “electronic income management” for those out of work after 17 weeks – a payment card that would allow case managers to track beneficiaries’ spending.
“National’s announcement today shows how Act and National together can not only change the government but change the direction of the country,” Seymour said.
“We are thrilled to see our natural partner moving further towards our policy direction of mutual obligation in welfare. It shows that Act’s ideas can drive real change for all New Zealand.”