Beneficiaries could face a time limit on how long they can stay
on welfare under a proposal put forward at a Wellington
It is just one of the suggestions to curb what the government's Welfare Working Group says is New Zealand's dependence on state support.
One in eight working age New Zealanders collect a benefit and the message at the high powered forum is that too many New Zealanders are using welfare as a permanent solution.
Chairperson Paula Rebstock says for such people the safety net of welfare has become a trap.
She is leading the group charged with shaking up the welfare system, saying many beneficiaries could work and the country needs to change the way the invalids benefit, sickness benefit and the DPB is dished out.
"We know that people's health tends to recover and improve significantly when they are in work," says Rebstock.
Right now there are 325,000 people who collect a benefit, of which 178,000 have been on a benefit for more than seven years.
But not everyone agrees the proposals put forward will get people back into work.
"As a caring society we don't say oh you have had your three years or your five years you are on the street," says Public Health Association spokesperson, Dr Gay Keating.
And activist Sue Bradford believes the conference is geared towards undermining the welfare system and changing it for the worse.
"National talked about it in the '90s and it looks like they are planning another major assault on the welfare system," she says.
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett knows the discussion could turn ugly, saying it is a contentious issue.
"This debate could spark prejudices; we may even see an ugly side of New Zealand," says Bennett.
A report is due back to the minister in December.