The New Zealand Government has released the final consensus report “Whakamana Tāngata Restoring Dignity to Social Security in New Zealand”, resulting from the work of the Welfare Expert Advisory Group (WEAG). The WEAG was established by the Government in May 2018 to provide advice on the future of New Zealand’s welfare system.

The WEAG was made up of 11 members representing a diverse range of backgrounds, expertise and views. Their skills and expertise included disability, young people, advocacy in the welfare system, employment, Māori, Pacific, economics, health, business and research and analysis. The report includes insights from nearly 3,000 New Zealanders who were involved during the consultation process.

The independence granted to the WEAG and their Terms of Reference enabled the most wide-ranging review of the system in a generation, the Advisory Group notes. “Our findings are robust and rigorous, based on evidence and research from NZ and overseas as well as the experiences of people supported by and working in the social security system. And our solutions are evidence-based,” WEAG Chair, Professor Cindy Kiro said.

Highlights

The WEAG has found that the current system is not delivering for the most vulnerable New Zealanders, asserting that too many people are leading desperate lives with seriously inadequate incomes.

“Our review of the current system has led us to the clear and unequivocal conclusion that fundamental change is needed. We cannot solve the existing problems, let along create a system that will serve future needs, through further ad hoc amendments or marginal changes,” Professor Kiro said.

The report makes 42 recommendations across nine key areas:

  • Purpose, values and principles.
  • Governance and performance.
  • Improving outcomes for Māori.
  • Rebalancing the social contract – improving the operation of the welfare system.
  • Income support.
  • Alleviating the housing conundrum.
  • Improving access to employment supports and work.
  • People with health conditions and disabilities and carers.
  • Community.

The recommendations aim to embed a new basis for social security, restoring trust in the system and enabling whakamana tāngata, to ensure people can live in dignity so they can participate meaningfully with their families and communities.

The WEAG concludes that addressing the imbalances in the system to treat people more fairly will ensure a better future for all New Zealanders.

(Source: News release | Read the report)

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