"I think we all agree that children should be provided for, whatever their family situation. If we penalise the caregivers for moral reasons, I can only see this impacting upon the ability of the state to help the children of these caregivers.
The benefit system, including the Domestic Purposes Benefit (DPB), is designed to supply a level of income support to enable parents to provide for their children. Benefit entitlement is based upon a person's individual situation. I could not agree to withholding money from people looking after children. It is the children that would suffer from that type of decision.
You might be interested to know that the vast majority of DPB recipients are in fact sole parents who have been married or in a relationship and who have lost the support of their husbands or partners for a variety of reasons.
As the Minister for Social Development and Employment, I will be looking into solutions that assist people into getting off the DPB and into work. Our policies will support parents while also recognising the value of paid work."
The following are excerpts from letters I received from former Minister for Social Development, Steve Maharey. Representing Labour, from the red corner we have;
"Income Support in the form of DPB contributes to the needs of children, and towards the valuable task of childcare, and is intended to provide a good start in life for children. Children are our country's future.......The government and the law cannot discriminate on moral grounds
The majority of DPB recipients are separated or divorced from a legal or de facto spouse (63% in 2001).
Officials are looking at the best means by which sole parents can be supported and encouraged to balance their work and family responsibilities. The idea is to get alongside them, talk to them about what they want to do with their lives, then help them get there."
Any discernible difference/s?
The overriding message from both is that as long as children are reliant on an individual, the state is obliged to provide the individual with an income. Therein lies the problem.
And regarding the past relationship status of DPB recipients, obviously the vast majority have been "in a relationship". But the Minister knows nothing about what type of relationship unless the recipient states that they were separated from a marriage or divorced. The latest information I have shows only 3,249 recipients were divorced and 29,622 were separated (I am assuming from a marriage because it wasn't from a de facto). Leaving the "vast" majority in the unknown category. The identifiers rely anyway on the accuracy of the recipients own description. For a variety of reasons that accuracy may be dubious.
The DPB is not, on balance, good for children. It can't be when it has created, in the space of a few decades, a whole new demographic of doubly disadvantaged kiddies with no in situ fathers and no money. I am very tired of those people with an ability to do something different simply defending it.