INDEPENDENT NEWS

All We Want For Xmas Is Welfare Reform

Published: Mon 22 Dec 2003 01:57 PM
All We Want For Xmas Is Welfare Reform
Monday 22 Dec 2003 Dr Muriel Newman Press Releases -- Social Welfare
In contrast to Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey's claims of success in the welfare portfolio, answers to my written Parliamentary Questions show him to be failing those who need help most, ACT New Zealand Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman said today.
"Parliamentary Questions have revealed that of the 577 jobseekers unemployed for more than six years who were placed in `stable' employment by the Department of Work and Income, almost 40 percent re-registered unemployed or returned to a benefit," Dr Newman said.
"Similarly, for those unemployed more than four years - of the 2,514 placed in stable employment, 39.3 percent have returned to benefits or re-registering unemployed. This is followed by 36.12 percent of the 4,924 who were unemployed between two and four years.
"Clearly, Mr Maharey's oft-trumpeted success with lowering unemployment relates only to the short-term unemployed - who are mostly capable of getting a job on their own without help. As these figures show, long-term unemployed are posing a bigger problem - and, by returning to benefits, are effectively being consigned to the scrap heap.
"Labour's soft-on-welfare approach - which focuses on giving beneficiaries as generous a package of handouts as possible - is clearly enticing many who have moved into the workforce, and given work a go, back onto welfare.
"This is detrimental to beneficiaries, their families and taxpayers. As we face the New Year, the Minister should be mindful that the only way for people to achieve their hopes and dreams is to be independent of the state.
"That is why it is so important to look to strategies that have been successful overseas - time limits on welfare, and 40-hour work weeks - so that those who have been on welfare in the long term are given a real chance for a better life," Dr Newman said.
ENDS
For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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