Beneficiaries, people with disabilities still waiting for action on welfare system

People are still waiting for the Government to take action in addressing welfare inequality and implement recommendations from the expert advisory group, say the charity Child Poverty Action Group. 

File image. Source: 1 NEWS

The report, released two years ago, made 42 recommendations that aimed to improve outcomes for Māori, improve operations and address income adequacy. 

"Two years on since Government-appointed experts recommended a complete overhaul of our welfare system, children, families, those with disabilities and people not in paid work are still waiting for a Government response to the recommendations, and a commitment to action," a statement from the Child Poverty Action Group said. 

The day the report was released, the Government announced it would scrap benefit sanctions on sole parents who do not name their child's other parent on its birth certificate, that low-income workers would be able to earn more before their benefit payments were reduced and it would put $76.3 million into employing up to 263 front-line staff at Work and Income over four years. 

Your playlist will load after this ad

It’s been two years since experts recommended a complete overhaul of the welfare system. Source: 1 NEWS

The Child Action Poverty Group today released its scorecard on the Government's progress.

"Of the 42 key recommendations, 8 have been partially implemented, 11 minimally implemented and there is no evidence of the remaining 23 recommendations being implemented," it stated. 

Professor Innes Asher, who was on the expert advisory group, said that "so far the Government has delivered remarkably little of that plan". 

"Fixing welfare is long overdue, and the Government has now been sitting on the blueprint for essential work for two years. We need to turn the vision into reality with urgency."

Human rights lawyer Huhana Hickey, also on the advisory group, spoke on Breakfast today, saying an overhaul was needed of the welfare system. 

"We thought what we had was a robust, well reviewed, economically viable transformational system. We were hopeful it would be picked up and taken forward. We're still waiting."

Your playlist will load after this ad

Dr Huhana Hickey says the Welfare Expert Advisory Group hoped for “transformational change”, but are still waiting. Source: Breakfast

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said this morning that there was a range of actions in the report that the Government had progressed and completed and some that they were continuing to work on. 

"Right from the moment it was released, particularly when it came to the recommendations around significant increases on main benefit rates, we were really clear, there were things we wouldn't be able to do all at once."

"Progress has been made, indexation, movement on abatements, other elements of the system that we were urged to change. But, we absolutely recognise there is more to do, no question."

Ardern said there was a $25 per week increase last year on benefits. 

Your playlist will load after this ad

The Prime Minister says there isn’t enough money to go around in the budget, however, to make changes all at once. Source: Breakfast

"That was much needed."

Advocate Kay Bereton, who was also on the advisory group, told 1 NEWS yesterday they were seeing people using "80, 90, 110 per cent of their benefit income on their rent and there’s just not enough left".

Your playlist will load after this ad

New figures show over 200,000 advanced payments were made in the last three months and it has many concerned. Source: 1 NEWS

Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni said the Government has created change.

"On top of the income support that we've increased and provided better access to through the welfare system, we've been working really hard to provide access to employment and the upskilling."