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The benefits of putting a time limit on the DPB

Setting a limit on the domestic purposes benefit will help tackle child poverty, welfare commentator Lindsay Mitchell says.

Last year, 16,364 babies were born to a parent or caregiver on a benefit – mostly the DPB.

Almost half of those caregivers were Maori, figures provided under the Official Information Act show.

In 2010, some 4800 births were second, or subsequent, children being added to an existing DPB, which happens most commonly in Whangerei, Whakatane, Rotorua, Kawerau and Wairoa.

"The high rate of children born on to welfare gives rise to numerous health and social problems down the line, not least abuse and neglect," Ms Mitchell writes in today's print edition of the National Business Review.

It is an irresponsible society which sanctions having babies on benefits as part of its culture, she says.

Time-limiting benefits, as they do in the United States, closes existing loopholes which restart the clock when another baby is born.

"That regime unequivocally puts the responsibility firmly on the parent to limit their family size without totally dumping a safety net.

"Knowingly bringing children into the world with no ability to raise them independently is hard to justify at any level."

Also in today's edition of the National Business Review, property editor Chris Hutching details how Radius Properties – whose shareholders include GT Nominees, Forsyth Barr Custodians, ASB Nominees and FNZ Custodians – is mulling takeover offers from competing suitors.

Given the recent focus on affordable housing, there will also be interest in the marketing of a 60ha site at Flat Bush, on the fringe of Auckland's urban boundaries, which may eventually be used for high-density, small dwellings.

Meanwhile, Shoeshine asks whether Agria – PGG Wrightson's majority shareholder – is being transparent enough over its activities in China.

Comments and questions
13

Why not put a limit on the number of children (2 or 3 children)? At the same time offer free sterilization once that limit has been reached. Also investment in better ante and post natal care, education and support would help.

A woman should be given one chance if she wants the taxpayer to fund her mistake. After that it is reasonable to not pay for any more children.

They are not telling them to stop having children but telling then that if you do have more the state will not pay.

Isn't this based on the assumption that having children is a calculated, thought-through financial decision by people on benefits? A hypothesis that I would like to see falsified is that most of these children are not planned, largely due to education around contraception. In any case, the danger is that the people you punish are not the parents but the children. I would prefer a more proactive targeting of the money to benefit the children directly.

"I would prefer a more proactive targeting of the money to benefit the children directly."
Good idea - can you explain how it would work, please.

Easy. Debit cards or similar. Limits on fast food, no booze, no cigarettes, etc.
No (or very little) cash.

View the money as a long-term investment rather than writing the kids off because of useless parents. I get the feeling that the system almost expects them to continue the cycle of their parents. Try to break that cycle - get your investment back. Short term, do things like making it a condition of a benefit that kids have to go to pre-school for a certain number of hours (may have already been proposed). Fund schools to provide some meals. I know the arguments against this but what are you telling the kids? "You're hungry? Hard luck for having useless parents - we don't really care".
Longer term pour more money into education. I know it's easy to say and money doesn't always solve things. However, the goal should be to emulate somewhere like Finland, where the results of hard decisions made decades ago are in fruition now. Educate the next generation. An educated child of a beneficiary is going to be more socially and economically productive than one than suffered through punitive measures against their parents. Schools can't do everything and in an ideal world all parents would be great. But when they are useless, we all, as a society, suffer unless we do something about it.

Apologies if I don't have all the answers but I, as an individual, don't have to.

Visit a few small towns, especially in the North Island, and you will find the "assumption" turns out to be a well-founded truth. There are many young women who have a child as a calculated, financial decision.

All of this assumes there are in fact jobs for these people to go to.
If one reflects where this group of people used to be employed, production work particularly textiles and light manufacturing, those jobs are gone, primarilly to China as a result of NZ's free-trade stance. Cheap clothes, shoes, general household stuff for the individual consumer comes with a higher welfare cost to the taxpayer =a higher tax requirement is the collateral effect of free trade which sent these jobs to China.

No amount of education, retraining or what ever is going to change that fact, only Govt accepting that real private sector job creation is a prerequisite to actualy changing the trend to solve the problem.

Without the 'blue-collar' jobs nothing will change.

Blue-collar jobs! This isn't the 19th century!
What a ridiculous comment, especially given that automation is increasingly taking unskilled jobs out ,and once gone they disappear forever. Your socialist nirvana where the government creates jobs out of thin air is also a pipe dream.
These people's opportunity to be educated is long gone. Too late. Let's limit the damage and concentrate on their kids.
Both Raf and Lazlo above are right.

This Fortress New Zealand theory of the 70s and 80s has long been disproven.

Just do it.....

Having children on welfare IS their job. Have children and the state pays you a basic wage. Time this all came to an end.

If people only had kids when they could afford them the human race would be extinct in 20 years.

No one can afford kids when you have them, can't see why it should be any different on the dpb.