Please try to put this letter in your own words.
Private Bag 18888
Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill
I was very concerned to hear about this Bill and would like to share the serious objections I and my family have to it.
We are extremely concerned about the “social obligations” that will compel beneficiaries to send their children to an approved Early Childhood Education provider for 15 hours a week beginning at age 3. Statistics quoted in the Ministry of Social Development’s Welfare Reform Paper E show that 95% of children already attend ECE with a registered provider. The remaining 5% includes children with no readily accessible ECE facilities and children whose parents have made a principled decision to opt out of the mainstream ECE industry and provide enriching and stimulating early learning environments in their own home. If ECE is made compulsory for beneficiaries, those parents will no longer have the ability to make decisions in their children’s best interest. With many other New Zealanders we believe that this breaches parental rights, is not in the best interests of the child, and is outrageously discriminatory.
We are also extremely concerned about the other social obligations compelling parents to register their children with registered health practitioners and attend Well Child checks. Again, statistics from Welfare Reform Paper E show that only 0.2% of children miss their Well Child checks. Parents should have the right to make their own decisions about their child’s health, as well as education, and taking that right away from beneficiaries is discriminatory.
We are further opposed to the way the Bill redefines domestic purposes beneficiaries and widows as jobseekers, and seeks to move them into work, from 15 hours once their youngest turns 5 to 30 hours when the youngest turns 14. Many beneficiaries are single mothers who would prefer to invest their time in their children and families rather than seek employment. This time investment is extremely valuable to society as it is an investment in future members of society. It also represents a legitimate life path as a homemaker and mother, which is the simple ambition of many women.
Finally, we are opposed to the sanctions imposed on families who breach their social obligations to send their children to ECE or attend Well Child checks. Families who continue to refuse to do so after three “support contacts” with case managers will be subject to a 50% benefit cut and “intensified case management support”, which according to Welfare Reform Paper E has been set up to include CYFS involvement and fraud investigation. This is extreme. Many families will refuse to send their children to ECE or register their children with an approved health care provider as a matter of principle. It is these responsible parents that will be subjected to interference from CYFS and fraud investigators: not neglectful or abusive parents, who will be easily encouraged to follow the government programme.
The Social Obligations are discriminatory, breach human rights, and target responsible parents. Please withhold your support from this Bill until the Social Obligations and sanctions are removed.