While social assistance policies provide an important safety net when individuals are not in a position to cover their own basic needs, long term dependence on welfare is not in the best interests of women or their families.
Dependence on social welfare is a risk factor for poverty. Initiatives that assist women to move from temporary dependence to sustainable economic independence are vital for women’s access to the full range of economic opportunities and resources, in order that they can shape their own and their dependents’ lives.
As at 2012, women had higher rates (compared to men) of main benefit receipt for the population aged 18 to 64 years. This can be mainly attributed to the number of female recipients of the Domestic Purposes Benefit. There have been fewer women receiving the Unemployment Benefit, however.
The National Benefit Factsheets are updated by Ministry of Social Development on a quarterly basis. These factsheets provide statistics on the numbers of people receiving main benefits. A number of significant changes involving the types of benefits and obligations beneficiaries must meet came into effect on 15 July 2013. Three new benefits were introduced: Jobseeker Support, Sole Parent Support and Supported Living Payment. These replace most of the previous main benefits.
Labour force participation has been identified as a key pathway out of poverty for sole parents. Evidence shows that a number of supports are vital to increasing labour force participation for sole parents. In particular, labour force participation is enabled by increased education and skills, the availability of quality and affordable childcare and out-of-school care, the availability of flexible work, and benefit abatement rates that incentivise participation in paid work.