I'm watching the current "welfare" talkfests with little hope that they will point to any genuinely sensible, realistic, effective changes which will actually help people. Today the Dom-Post reported a fascinating Dutch innovation that I'm quite sure won't be followed here - though maybe it should be.
Three Dutch councils are offering single unemployed Dutch women (it doesn't say whether they have children) a fashion and beauty grant and free membership of a dating agency, "to get them off the dole by finding a solvent husband" - or a job. The councils think that "finding love" will help to get people - men are eligible too, though obviously they think it will apply mainly to women - off benefits by "improving confidence, ambition and motivation". But after adverse publicity, the scheme's been put on hold.
In fact these councils are onto something. Every in-depth piece of research into DPB recipients shows that the main way to get off it is through repartnering. In other words, for women trying to raise kids on their own, the vast majority of them after a "separation" (as it's so neutrally called), it's much harder to find a sustainable job than it is to find a new man with a man's wage. Of course that "new man" often used to be attached to another woman with kids, who may well now be on the DPB herself, but that's life.
So now that sole mothers are being classed as virtually no different from any other unemployed person, the idea of helping them find a new male partner who will be able to support them is just plain common sense. It's a lot more realistic than expecting the right number of manageable, well-enough-paid jobs to appear out of nowhere in response to the kinds of blunt-instrument changes being talked about now, like cutting the DPB when the youngest child turns five.
And of course, if the new relationship breaks down, I guess the state would be perfectly within its rights to bill its "client" for the cost of her makeover. It can deduct this weekly from her new DPB.