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welfare-to-work « Previous | |Next »
March 6, 2005

There is a good article by Adele Horn in the Sydney Morning Herald on welfare-to work-reform. She makes several good points.

The first introduces the way that a punitive Victorian morality (Protestant ethic) has made a comeback in relation to welfare reform:

The system treats unemployed people as the undeserving poor, and pensioners as deserving poor, and pays them accordingly. And until that unfairness is addressed, there will be little incentive for disability pensioners to seriously test themselves in the job market, and no prospect of a major reduction in the disability pension rolls.

Anyone who thinks otherwise is a bleeding heart. Horne's second point rejects the harsh, punitive pathway that is publicly justified in the name of getting rid of the bludgers and rorters:
The answer is not to drive the pension to the level of the unemployment payment. It is not to make life more onerous for people with physical or mental problems who are willing to work but fear the poverty of Newstart. It is to tackle the disparity in rates and conditions, and end the divide between deserving and undeserving. It is not an easy task. But after all the advice, work and effort expended on welfare reform, it would be a pity if a government in control of the Senate took the easy way out, and simply changed the rules to push more and more people with disabilities and impairments and marginal employment prospects onto the onerous unfair unemployment benefit.

The better pathway is that suggested by the McClure Report, whose main recommendations:
..tackled ways to lessen the divide between pension and benefits: a single core benefit for working-age people with add-ons to support those with higher costs, including disabilities. Same rules, same concessions, same indexation. Later the Government put out the Building A Simpler System discussion paper in which it acknowledged the work disincentives of such a complex system with its different rates of pensions and benefits, income tests, free areas, and conditions, and floated a single working-age payment.

Now why do I think that the Howard Government is going to avoid this reform in favour of more mutual obligation designed to weed out the bludgers with bad backs?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 7:46 AM | | Comments (0)