Consultation on welfare reforms; Social Security Legislation Rewrite Bill passes

Image: Ian Tormo on Unsplash

The Government's Welfare Expert Advisory Group (WEAG) is inviting public feedback on the welfare system, through submissions and community forums.

The deadline to submit feedback is 9 November 2018.

The WEAG is reviewing the welfare system and will make recommendations to the Government on ways to improve the system. The WEAG website states that the Advisory Group:

"...will consider ways to ensure people have an adequate income and standard of living, are treated with respect, can live in dignity, are able to participate meaningfully in their communities and have the skills and training to secure meaningful employment and other positive outcomes."

The WEAG work programme covers three areas: 

  • purpose and principles of the welfare system
  • design and operation of the welfare system 
  • how welfare interfaces with other systems, such as health, employment, housing and justice.
WEAG is particularly interested in hearing feedback from those who have had difficulty or problems accessing and using welfare benefits. They are looking for feedback on the following areas:
  • what is working well
  • what could be done better
  • what isn’t working well in the welfare system
  • what level of support should be available
  • what are the values that should underpin our welfare system.

For more information about the consultation see the announcement from Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni or the WEAG website: www.weag.govt.nz.

The Advisory Group is holding community forums throughout the country in October and November to gather feedback.

There will also be an online survey on the WEAG website.

The Welfare Expert Advisory Group is due to report to Government in February 2019.

Background information

In May 2018, Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni announced the formation of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group (WEAG) to undertake a broadranging review of the welfare system.

Radio NZ reported that the government planned to unveil some immediate changes to the welfare system in June ahead of the group reporting back, and that work had already begun preparing to remove a sanction on some solo parents and reducing abatement rates.

An overhaul of the welfare system was initiated as part of the Labour Party's confidence and supply agreement with the Green Party.

The Ministry of Social Development has recently published a report looking at what happens to people who left the benefit system following the previous Government's welfare reforms. 

For research and information on the links between family violence, welfare and poverty, see our previous story Government appoints expert panel to welfare review; welfare, poverty and violence. Also see our previous story on the Child Poverty Action Group report on relationship status, violence and benefits.

Related news

Minister Sepuloni recently announced that the Social Security Legislation Rewrite Bill has had its third reading and will become law once it receives Royal Assent. The bill was introduced in 2016. At the time, non-government agencies and both the Green Party and Labour had raised concerns about some of the proposed legislative changes. See the Parliamentary website for the final text of the bill and related documents

The State Services Commission is currently seeking public feedback on proposed reform on the State Sector Act 1988. The purpose of the reform is to enable the Public Service to:

  • "deliver better outcomes and better services
  • create a modern, agile and adaptive New Zealand Public Service, and
  • ensure its role in supporting New Zealand’s democratic form of government."

The deadline to give feedback is 12 October 2018.

In September, the Government published a new plan outlining the Government's priorities. The second priority, Improving the wellbeing of New Zealanders and their families, includes "Reducing family and sexual violence". The third priority, Making New Zealand proud, includes the Royal Inquiry into the Abuse of Children in State Care and a number of activities focused on building closer partnerships with Māori. For more information see the Beehive press release and the Prime Minister's speech.

Selected and related media

Recommendations to make “Welfare Fit for Families” in the 21st Century, Child Poverty Action Group news, 21.09.2018

Communities and wellbeing, Opinion: Brenda Pilott, National Manager, Social Service Providers Aotearoa, Scoop, 19.09.2018

Benefit number obsession counterproductive, Waatea News, 14.09.2018

State Sector Productivity: innovation and measurement are the missing keys, Productivity Commission press release, 17.08.2018

Open up budget bids to NGOs ProdCom says, BusinessDesk, Scoop, 17.08.2018

Subsequent child rules: 'I did not understand how they could take baby', Radio NZ, 06.07.2018

20% of benefit fraud tip-offs have some legitimacy, Radio NZ, 04.07.2018

Court wipes MSD loan policy, Waatea News, 04.07.2018

A heartfelt letter penned by "Ms F", Child Poverty Action Group website, 04.07.2018

Solo mum's loans were not income - High Court ruling, Radio NZ, 03.07.2018

Winz is meant to help the vulnerable, not hound them through the courts, The Spinoff, 03.07.2018

High court rules loans are not income for welfare beneficiaries, Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) News, 03.07.2018

Benefit sanctions are going down, Opinion: Jan Logie, Green Party Blog, 27.06.2018

Changing face of Work and Income launched today, Beehive press release, 26.06.2018

CPAG urges immediate action on sanctions where there are children, Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) News, 15.06.2018

All Beneficiaries should be treated with respect and dignity, Waatea News, 31.05.2018