Social Security (Extension of Young Persons Services and Remedial Matters) Amendment Bill - First Reading

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Spoken in the House 23rd July 2015. Watch here or read the Hansard below.

STUART SMITH: It is a pleasure to speak on the Social Security (Extension of Young Persons Services and Remedial Matters) Amendment Bill. I am going to focus a little bit on jobs, but before I get to that, this bill is going to extend youth services to all 19-year-old beneficiaries with children, and 18 and 19-year-old beneficiaries without children considered at significant risk of long-term welfare dependency.
Youth Service provides wraparound services and support with the aim of reducing long-term welfare dependency in the future. As part of that activity they will be required to undertake youth activity obligations, and that is important. These people are in a position where they have been identified as likely to be long-term beneficiaries. They need to get out and enjoy life in a way with other youths in a proper way. That is what this obligation will do.

They will also be required to undertake full-time education leading towards National Certificate of Educational Achievement level 2 and undertake budgeting courses and undertake ongoing budgeting discussions. That is really important. When you go and talk to family budgeting services you realise how that really small step can make a big difference to people’s lives and how they can get themselves saddled with a lot of debt really just because of a lack of planning at the front end. So that is really important.

They will also undergo parenting courses and activities to support good parenting and they will receive $10 a week if they meet those obligations.

There has been a lot talked about jobs and people speculating that there are not jobs out there. Well, in 2011 there was a Government forecast of 171,000 new jobs being created over the next 4 years. But we are actually going to make 193,000 jobs. That is 22,000 more jobs than we forecast—just under 200,000 jobs. There are jobs and the forecast from 2015 out to 2019 is 150,000 new jobs.

To illustrate what that really means at the sharp end, I was talking to a contractor in my electorate who was desperate to employ New Zealanders. He is a recognised seasonal employer and he would love to have Kiwis so that he can have long-term people in there to help supervise. But the difficulties of getting people are really quite stark so he is working with Work and Income.

He came over to this side of the strait to the lower North Island and sought out and interviewed people. He wanted to initially employ eight workers. He interviewed 22 and he was so impressed with the standard of the young people he was interviewing that he decided to double that and employ 16, and he took those 16 people back over to Marlborough to work.

The reason he came to the North Island is that that piece of water—Cook Strait—is quite a barrier for those people. So the reason is to get those people out of their environment, and, with all of those services that are being provided by Work and Income, to help these people and ease them into work. It is really working.

Out of those 16, four have since dropped off but he has now got 12 people—that is 50 percent more than he went over initially to employ—and they are working and they are working out well.

But it does take time and those wraparound services that are part of this bill are there to help those people get through that initial stage of learning good habits around work. It is about changing behaviour. It is about resetting values and so on.

I was really disappointed with what I heard earlier, particularly from the Green member. I thought she was better than that. She would have those people stranded on a benefit for the rest of their lives, damning not only them for the rest of their lives but their children and their families, and that is really sad.

We are much more ambitious for those people and we are not just telling them to do something; with this bill we are actually giving them the tools to achieve it themselves. When you see those people, the change in their behaviour and their values, and their pride in themselves, it is worth every single penny. I commend this bill to the House. Thank you.