There's research... and there's research.This week the "Future Focus" bill had its second reading.
It is now called the Social Assistance (New Work Tests, Incentives, and Obligations) Amendment Bill and would place more stringent obligations on those in receipt of State welfare and encourage beneficiaries into work, hopefully by changing their behaviour.The Ministry of Social Development’s Regulatory Impact Statement on the Bill said.
“There is no research currently available which accurately quantifies the size of the behavioural response from these changes in policies. This prevents estimates, with the degree of accuracy required, from being made of the number of people who will move from benefit to work over a year, as a result of the proposed changes.”So, there needs to be some more research to quantify how successful such policy change will be. One of the justifications of not lowering the drink driving limit was that more research is needed to be done to quantify the impact of the change. But when it comes to beneficiaries, ideology trumps research.
Itt is difficult to see how the evaluation of this legislation will provide further research if the most of the reports that are to be generated in relation are being done currently, such as exits from benefits to work. Currently Work and Income does not know , in each case, whether someone has gone off a benefit into full time work or part time work on a high enough income to exit the system, nor the degree of assistance from the Ministry in many cases. Perhaps we need some research on that. According to the Regulatory Impact Statement, that won't change.
The MSD even admits that Case Managers are not work testing to the extent they should be - they are loathe to use " work testing. Perhaps we need some research on that, too. To make it more complicated by a more gradual work test, (including reducing part time workers'( in some cases incorrectly) abated benefit by a further 50% for the first four weeks) will not encourage Case Managers to use it. This bill is indeed about work test, incentives and obligations. Yet, while Case Managers have an obligation to use the work test, this legislation gives them no incentive to do so, and there are no consequences if they do not work test when they should. Perhaps we need research on that, in future, too.
Perhaps it is a good idea that the words "future" and "focus" were taken out of the bill.