Cameron Slater is certainly on fire today, releasing a load of posts on his blog.
His blog, while not to me required reading, is certainly on the radar of most politicians, and he has pulled off several scoops in his time online.
However at the same time he has had “the black dog that is severe depression“, making him unfit for many years for normal work and surviving on the benefit or insurance payments. I’m very pleased to have found out now that he is better, to the point where he wrote in August that he is now back at work.
That’s great to hear, as it solves the Whale Oil problem for one person. However the problem remains for many – how do we as a society help people get off the benefit and on to paying work. It was doubly hard in Slater’s case, as he is clearly very capable, and commands a significant audience, and the optics of a ful time political blogger on a benefit were disturbing for all observers.
Reforms to welfare benefits announced today seem to signal a smart change in approach.
The new policy, which is admittedly light on details, aims to flip the approach to benefits from “entitlement to service if you fit a category” to “helping people deliver on their capacity to work”.
The emphasis of resources (training courses, 1-1 assistance, child care and the like) will be to support those people most at risk of being long term off-work, rather than those who just happen to be between jobs. Time will tell, but I hope that this means folks that are in the position Slater was will be given the nuanced and targetted support they need to get back to work.
It’s been released as a National Party policy, but reads as a government policy, and contains some simplification of the complex benefit nomenclature as well. I hope the other partie get behind it (or similar) as well.