The Social Security (Subsequent Child Policy Removal) Amendment Bill has passed its third reading in the House.
The Bill removes the subsequent child policy from the Social Security Act 2018 and Social Security Regulations 2018, and the policy’s removal will take effect on 8 November 2021.
The Bill aligns with a recommendation made by the Welfare Expert Advisory Group in their advice to Government in February 2019.
“By removing this sanction, parents will have more flexibility to spend more time with their children in the first 1000 days of their life, which is a critical time period for a child’s long-term development,” Carmel Sepuloni said.
“We know the importance of the role parents play in the early years of their tamariki’s lives. This Bill will ensure affected parents can spend time at home with their little ones, if that is the best option for their family.
“We also know from the nine-years this sanction was in force, it did not achieve what it set out to do, and was an administrative burden for the Ministry of Social Development.
“The removal of the policy means the Ministry of Social Development will now always consider the age of the youngest dependent child in a person’s care when determining eligibility for Sole Parent Support and when setting work or work preparation obligations for Sole Parent Support clients and partners of people on a Main Benefit.
On 8 November, this will mean:
some sole parents on Jobseeker Support will transfer to Sole Parent Support (where they may also become eligible for additional financial incentives such as the Work Bonus)
some parents will have their obligations reduced from part-time to work preparation obligations, or from full-time to part-time or work preparation obligations.
“Previously, if someone had a subsequent child while on a benefit, their work or work preparation obligations and eligibility for Sole Parent Support would only be based on the age of their subsequent child until they turned one. Following this, their obligations and eligibility would then be based on the age of their next youngest non-subsequent child.
“This legislation is an important step towards ensuring a fairer and more equitable welfare system for whānau,” Carmel Sepuloni said.
Approximately 11,400 people (as at 30 April 2021) will be impacted by the policy’s removal.
The Ministry of Social Development will be contacting these clients to confirm what has changed for them.