I support an allowance as an incentive for training
In the past day or two I have written about people on benefits who want an allowance from the Government to undertake tertiary training. It may appear from those posts that I do not support assistance for training purposes.
This is not the case. I support the retention of the training incentive allowance (TIA) with some amendments. The Massey University Extramural Students' Society said this in a recent media release:
National’s cutting of the Training Incentive Allowance will hit those who are motivated to improve their lives. Midwives, nurses and teachers are among the professions that solo mothers will struggle to afford training in. The TIA paid for up to $3,862.00 of actual course costs per year. Without this support many once-eligible students will not be able to make ends meet. Childcare becomes unaffordable if all spare cash is spent on course fees so potential success stories become shattered dreamsThe key thing is that students should undertake study to improve their lives, and the allowance should be an incentive to do that. The recent case where a dpb recipient was doing just three papers a year on the TIA is hardly going to improve her life in the short term. A three year degree would take eight years to complete, a four year one even longer.
The problem is that, for those studying part time - meaning fewer than five or six papers - the TIA is treated like a beefed up allowance for course - and books - and childcare costs, when it should be treated like a student allowance for course and book costs only, for dpb, invalids and widows beneficiaries. No students can get the taxed student allowance if they do fewer than six papers in the two semesters. Nearly all students who do not work do more than six papers a year and collect the allowance. Those with kids can get a small WINZ childcare subsidy if they are not entitled to 20 hours free. But under the non-taxed TIA, you can do fewer papers and get the full allowance as well as a benefit, and use the balance over course costs for whatever you want to, as it is paid into your bank account much the same way as the money for additional course costs is with a normal student allowance. Some keep the money and get friends to mind kids or study at night so they can afford to get CDs or other consumables. If costs are over the allowance, you can borrow to pay for the balance with an interest -free student loan.
Personally I can't see, instead of canning the TIA, why the allowance can't be for those who take perhaps a mandatory number of papers, with perhaps an abated rate for those who take fewer. This would encourage beneficiaries to complete their qualifications at a faster rate and discourage slackers, while taking account of the fact that, as a sole parent, a primary responsibility is the care of their children. Some courses require block training and field work so I'd support 20 hours free being available for students on the TIA - not just 3-4 year olds - for these block courses and field work. After all, if they were able to apply for a childcare subsidy from WINZ - [can they?] - they'd get roughly the same amount.
Labels: Training Incentive Allowance