Grant Robertson: Refuses to acknowledge benefit levels are too low.
Has the Labour-led Government created a two-tier welfare system for its own political advantage?

THE LABOUR-LED GOVERNMENT has announced that some unemployed folk are more worthy of financial assistance than others. People who have lost their full time jobs and just joined the reserve army of labour as a consequence of the lockdown will be eligible to receive  $490 a week. However people who were out of work pre-lockdown will continue to receive the current basic benefit of $250 a week. Migrant workers who have lost their jobs as a consequence of the lockdown will also not be eligible for the new benefit.  We now have a two-tier welfare system.

What is the rationale for this? is the Government suggesting that people these who have just recently lost their jobs are under more financial stress than those who were out of work pre-lockdown? According to Finance Minister Grant Robertson the new benefit recognises that people have suffered 'a sharp drop in income' but its also a recognition that folk can't be reasonably expected to survive on the basic benefit. But Robertson still refuses to acknowledge that benefit levels are too low.

The new benefit is for twelve weeks, supposedly designed to provide people 'breathing space' to find new jobs. That's the view of the Minister of Social Development Carmel Sepuloni. But since we're heading into the greatest economic crisis since the 1930s its unlikely that the economy is going to be producing enough new jobs anytime soon.

Unsurprising the Council Of Trade Unions have come out in favour of the new benefit, with President Richard Wagstaff having nothing to say about the financial plight of those who were jobless before the pandemic struck.

Conveniently for the Government, this new benefit will soften the blow for many who might otherwise have been starting to look negatively at Jacinda Ardern and co by the time of the general election in September. This scheme will cost the Government  $570 million and its hard not to view it as a naked attempt to shore up its electoral support.


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