A security plan for the family man? : capitalisation of the family benefit and the Second Labour Government : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in History at Massey University
This thesis examines the legislation introduced by the second Labour Government, effective from April 1959, which allowed parents of young children to capitalise their family benefit entitlement in order to obtain a lump sum for the purpose of purchasing a family home. The study traces the development of the policy from the time it was adopted by the Labour Party in 1954, through the process of translating policy into legislation after Labour became the Government in 1957 and its passage through the House in the Family Benefit (Home Ownership) Act 1958 and implementation in 1959. The objective of the study is to ascertain why the Labour Government adopted capitalisation of the family benefit as the appropriate policy for the time and what difficulties it encountered in translating the policy into practice. This involves consideration of the context for the policy, the political and the social environment at the time of its development and the political and public debate it generated. It requires examination of the issues that arose in drafting the legislation and in implementing the scheme after enactment of the 1958 Act and its associated regulations in 1959, as well as the changes made in subsequent years as the new regime was put into practice. The study explores the assumption by both the National and Labour Governments during the 1950s that families had a right to own their own homes, rather than merely a right to decent housing. It considers whether the Labour proposal for capitalisation of the family benefit was simply intended as a solution to a perceived housing problem, or whether it was more ambitious than that. Was it also intended as a further means to encourage family-formation and increase the stability of New Zealand society? Was it a way of developing social cohesion and reducing the significance of economic divisions in society by improving the access of the lower-paid to home ownership?