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.