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Fundamentally, the social security system needs to be founded on the belief that most New Zealanders are willing to engage, participate, contribute and do their fair share for their communities. Social security needs to be designed with these people utmost in our minds.

In other words, having appropriate support will result in better outcomes than wielding a stick at every opportunity. Our combination of recommendations will, over time, restore trust in the system and in people, and shift us all towards realising that meaningful participation is desirable and rewarding for all.

While most people will follow the rules, in any system a small minority will commit fraud. These people should be dealt with accordingly, just as they are dealt with in other systems (such as the tax system). But designing the whole system based on this small minority has resulted in a system that is complex and costly to administer and has contributed to undermining trust between the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) and users.

This chapter sets out the foundation for a fundamentally different system of social security, one underpinned by a kaupapa Māori values framework that recognises and addresses the interests of all New Zealanders under Te Tiriti o Waitangi (the Treaty of Waitangi).

The Welfare Expert Advisory Group recommends:

  • the Social Security Act be amended with a new purpose statement to reflect a holistic approach that places welfare in the context of wider wellbeing and with a new set of principles to guide the design and operation of the welfare system
  • appropriate accountabilities be created for implementing the recommendations and a new set of performance measures that focus on key outcomes for MSD
  • MSD’s accountabilities and competencies be changed to improve outcomes for Māori.
"I think people that are on the benefit should not look, experience or feel different to anyone else in our country. I think people receiving benefits or welfare supports should be completely supported to thrive…”

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