Rebstock to head welfare watchdog panel
BUSINESSDESK: Former Commerce Commission chair Paula Rebstock will head a new panel tasked with overseeing the actuarial valuation of New Zealand's long-term welfare liabilities.
The government-appointed Work and Income Board will advise the Ministry of Social Development on how to best implement welfare reform and report to the social development, finance and state services ministers.
The government will spend $1.1 million over four years on the board, and will review its operation in June next year.
"It makes good economic and social sense to provide targeted support up front to get more people into work sooner, ” Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said.
"They will help make decisions about which interventions work best for individuals and will oversee trials to collect best evidence."
Earlier this year, Ms Bennett unveiled the first tranche of reform targeting youth beneficiaries and tougher job requirements for parents on a benefit.
Legislation for the second set of reforms will be tabled in Parliament in July, and will streamline benefit categories and clamp down on benefit fraud.
The board has been appointed for its experience in insurance and finance sectors that already use investment approaches to valuing future liabilities.
Ms Rebstock is joined by Southern Cross Healthcare chief executive Ian McPherson, AUT Professor of Rehabilitation Kathryn McPherson, Crown Fibre Holdings director Andrew Body, business consultant Reg Barrett and former South Taranaki District deputy mayor Debbie Packer.
Under the so-called "investment approach" to welfare, an actuarial valuation will be completed to determine the long-term future spend needed for the welfare system.
It will take into account how long people are expected to claim benefits, as well as wider economic and demographic trends.
In the nine months ended March 31, the government spent $1.36 billion on the domestic purposes benefit, $688m on the unemployment benefit, $994m on the invalids benefit and $581m on the sickness benefit.
Those transfers amount to 22% of what the government spends on social assistance, which includes KiwiSaver and Working for Family tax credits and superannuation payments.