8 October 2001 Media Statement
Social development working well
Beneficiaries and low-income New Zealanders are benefiting under the Labour-Alliance Government, Social Services and
Employment Minister Steve Maharey told Wellington’s Downtown Community Ministry annual meeting this evening.
Steve Maharey said the Government was delivering on its core promise to restore the balance between economic and social
objectives. Initiatives taken include a reorienting of the Department of Work and Income, considerable additional
investment in health, education and other social services and the introduction of income-related rents. In addition,
because of low unemployment rates more New Zealanders are getting into real jobs, earning real wages and improving their
“Since the election we have worked hard to give New Zealanders better opportunities to become self-sufficient. We have
removed the punitive elements of the social assistance system we inherited from the previous government because they
trapped people on benefits.
“When we scrapped the Community Work scheme, National and ACT MPs told everyone who would listen that beneficiary
numbers would go through the roof. In fact the number of people on the unemployment benefit have dropped by nearly 10
percent in a year.
“A substantial culture change has taken place within the former Department of Work and Income following Don Hunn’s
review. It is interesting to note, as an example, that MPs electorate offices are reporting a very substantial drop off
in the number of constituents seeking help with benefit issues.
“Key projects undertaken in the last year include which are contributing to this include improvements to benefit
information and services, reviewing benefit debts and reversing National’s superannuation cuts.
“Moving people off benefits and into sustainable paid work is still the best form of welfare available. The focus for
the Government now is on making work pay – removing the obstacles which conspire to keep people on benefits,” Steve