The Government convened the Welfare Expert Advisory Group to review the New Zealand welfare system, excluding New Zealand Superannuation, the Veteran’s Pension and War Pensions, and the Student Support System. The terms of reference and independence granted to the Welfare Expert Advisory Group have enabled the most wide-ranging review of the system in a generation.
In this report, we consider the interface between welfare and the active labour market and employment, mental health, child wellbeing and child poverty, housing and justice strategies. Our recommendations are reasonable and based on evidence, and they require significant investment if the desired outcomes are to be achieved. We recommend enabling the welfare system to serve its most basic functions and to move beyond being a ‘safety net’ to enabling ‘whakamana tāngata’ – restoring dignity to people so they can participate meaningfully with their families and communities.
The essential principles of whakamana tāngata are to provide income support sufficient for an adequate standard of living, to provide employment support to help people find and retain good and appropriate work, and to treat people receiving this support with dignity and respect. In return, people receiving this support are expected to take up the opportunities to participate. We hope that agreement to these principles can be the basis for a lasting parliamentary commitment on social security that will take New Zealand into the future with pride.
This report has been informed by national consultation, commissioned reports, a review of the literature and data relating to welfare use, other reports including previous welfare reviews, and meetings with stakeholders.
We are grateful to all the people who contributed to our report, especially the many people who shared their personal experiences of the welfare system.
Kia piki ake te mana tangata!
Professor Cindy Kiro
Welfare Expert Advisory Group