The Social Development Minister, the Hon Carmel Sepuloni, released the Welfare Expert Advisory Group Report, “Whakamana Tangata: Restoring Dignity to Social Security in New Zealand” on the 3 May 2019. The report contains 42 recommendations for improving the welfare system, including:
• increasing rates of benefit payment
• increasing Family Tax Credit rates
• replacing the In-Work Tax Credit and the Independent Earner Tax Credit with a new tax credit (referred to as an Earned Income Tax Credit)
• removing the 30 hours maximum work rule for the Jobseeker Support payment, which would mean the Minimum Family Tax Credit would no longer be required and could be repealed
• repealing the Child Tax Credit
• making the Best Start Tax Credit universal for first three years of children’s lives
• aligning core eligibility definitions across welfare agencies, and also align debt prevention, fraud practices and debt collection practices across government
• improving employment support services and active labour market policies
• improving financial support for housing, alongside increasing the supply of housing and improving its affordability
• indexation of payments to reflect wage movements, and
• changes to the culture of Work and Income.
The Minister noted that in Budget 2019, the Government will be allocating funds to employ up to 263 frontline staff over four years to support more people into good work, allowing beneficiaries to keep more of what they earn when they do work by lifting the abatement threshold and eliminating a discriminatory sanction that cut incomes to parents and their children if the name of the other parent was not declared to the Government.