Which age group receives the most working-age benefits?

Auckland Action Against Poverty says it is hard to lead a life with dignity on the benefit in Auckland.
LAWRENCE SMITH/STUFF

Auckland Action Against Poverty says it is hard to lead a life with dignity on the benefit in Auckland.

Working-age people receiving benefits are mostly in the prime of our working life - the ages of 25 to 54.

It is getting harder to live on a benefit, particularly in Auckland, where housing and transport costs are spiralling.

Auckland Action Against Poverty co-ordinator Vanessa Cole says the benefit doesn't allow a dignified life in Auckland. Often a beneficiary family is forced to choose between putting food on the table or paying things like emergency doctors' visits.

There are many reasons why people are in the welfare system. However, many of the benefits and supports have the unintended consequence of making work unappealing, says Jess Berentson-Shaw, Morgan Foundation researcher and author of Pennies from Heaven.

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Someone getting sole-parent support can only earn up to $100 a week before losing 70c of net benefit for every $1 earned. But to get the $72.50 in-work tax credit under the Working for Families scheme, they need to work a minimum 20 hours a week and give up their benefit. 

Some people are reluctant to give up their Jobseeker Support to take temporary work because of the stand-down periods that apply if they need to return to it.

In terms of Working for Families, the amount of support a family gets drops as the household income increases, which means some second-earners do not have the same incentive to take work or longer hours.

When the system was introduced, it resulted in 9300 fewer second-earners in two-parent families being in paid employment, says Berentson-Shaw.

"If you have to travel far, uproot your family, add costs to your living, in order to take impermanent insecure work that will affect your current support possibly negatively and stress you out, all for marginal - if any - gain, why would you?

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"Migrant workers have none of these complexities to deal with. My view is that we import people outside of their family and societal obligations and complexities. This is not dealing with the lived realities of our population and making policy that works with that, it is finding ways to ignore one part of your population's lived reality and hence their wellbeing."

 

Learn more about the information shown above, and explore more charts, at Figure.NZ's site.

 - Stuff

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