policy

Remove marital status testing from welfare entitlements.

In New Zealand, your marital status affects your entitlement to welfare. People who are in a relationship are given a smaller benefit than those who are single.

The rationale for this policy seems straightforward enough –  people in a relationship can share costs and so arguably don’t require as much money.

My mother is a nurse, and she constantly has a problem with her patients giving fake addresses. This makes it much harder for her to get in touch with her patients. This typcially happens when the patient is living with their partner, but can’t be upfront about it for risk of losing some of benefit, or worse being charged with fraud and being made to pay the money back.

I think the policy unfairly punishes people for being in a relationship. All it really does is incentivise people to lie to their welfare officer, and creates a ‘us and them’ division between the welfare office and the people it is meant to be serving.

Sure, being in a relationship probably has financial benefits. But people shouldn’t be punished for having that advantage. I think that would be similar to giving people a smaller benefit because they cycle to work instead of catching the bus, or because they they’re good at making savings at the supermarket.

This is a low hanging fruit for reforming New Zealand’s welfare policy that would simplify the system, and remove a lot of the dishonesty.

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4 thoughts on “Remove marital status testing from welfare entitlements.

  1. But it’s not analogous to biking to work or being a frugal shopper. Those things are within the power of the beneficiary; being in a relationship is not. “It takes two”. And WHY should some poor, lonely bugger receive less proportionately because they ARE alone.
    Maybe everyone receive the same and singles receive a “living alone” allowance..

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    1. >WHY should some poor, lonely bugger receive less proportionately because they ARE alone.

      I find it interesting the the conversation is framed in terms of ‘receiving less than others’. Benefits should be about providing _enough_.

      The reason I think that singles shouldn’t receive more, is because I think that just incentives lying about your status, or say, not moving in with your partner, when that would be the sensible thing to do.

      Let me put it this way – if you were to _raise_ the entitlement of people who are in a relationship to the same level as those who are single, would that be a problem?

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