The government continues to punish mothers and children despite lack of evidence
A report to Minister Anne Tolley by the Ministry of Social Development outlines that there is no evidence that the 70A sanction is effective in getting fathers to pay child support.
“With no evidence of the effectiveness of the 70A sanction it seems cruel to continue to financially punish sole parents and their children already living in poverty,” says Vanessa Cole, spokesperson for Auckland Action Against Poverty.
“The report states: “We do not have sufficient evidence to confirm if the benefit reduction is achieving the policy’s intent,” yet still concludes that the sanction should remain.
“Section 70A is a sanction on sole parents who do not name the other parent on the birth certificate. This sanction impacts over 13,000 people, 98% are women, 52% are Māori.
“Section 70A is a racist, sexist and archaic policy which defines relationships and family based on a nuclear family model which simply is not the reality of many families.
“There are a number of reasons why parents do not name the other parent of their child(ren), ranging from simply not knowing who they are, to rape and threats of violence .
“Anne Tolley and MSD have been sitting on this report for months, and we still have sole mothers who come in to AAAP who are losing between $22-$28 per week, per child.
“Benefit rates are already low, without further sanctions forcing parents to choose between putting food on the table, and taking their children to the doctors.
“Tweaks to the policy, suggested in the report, such as training staff to better identify when people are exempt is not enough. The sanction needs to be repealed.
“Sanctions on women and their children are a part of a wider toxic culture of Work & Income which punishes beneficiaries for their supposed burden on the economy.
“Sanctions are harmful and not evidence-based in deterring behaviour. This is because poverty is not a behaviour, and unemployment is not caused by the unemployed.
“Sanctions only deepen the entrenched poverty in this country, and any reasonable government committed to ending poverty would get rid of all sanctions on beneficiaries.”