INDEPENDENT NEWS

Brash doubts welfare policies will change for good

Published: Thu 6 Jul 2006 01:46 PM
Don Brash MP
National Party Leader
06 July 2006
Brash doubts welfare policies will change for good
National Party Leader Don Brash says the public will need to be convinced that more than Labour’s language has changed in relation to welfare dependency.
“After seven years, Helen Clark expects the public to believe that Labour has had a 'Road to Damascus' experience when it comes to welfare. The language has changed but will the policies?”
Dr Brash says he’s delighted that the recent economic climate has helped reduce unemployment, “but it is the business community in New Zealand that creates jobs, not the Government".
“The number of people classified as unemployed may be low, but there are nearly 124,000 on the sickness and invalids benefits, up nearly 50% from 1999 when there were 86,000 sickness and invalids benefit recipients.
“These are long-term benefits, and the Government’s attempts to rehabilitate those workers has been feeble at best. According to answers to parliamentary questions, only 56 clients participating in the PATHS initiative had declared income at some point since entering the programme, while just 68 were off the benefit.
“That’s a pathetic 0.05% of the total number of sickness and invalids beneficiaries off the benefit through this programme. National would work with doctors to ensure a consistent approach to the sickness and invalids criteria. Many of those on long-term benefits can contribute to their communities in some way, but Labour doesn’t even try.
“Labour simply doesn’t have the courage to address the growing culture of welfare dependency. Helen Clark even encourages workers to line up for state handouts.
“National understands the importance of mutual obligations and personal responsibility. All the evidence of the past seven years suggests Helen Clark does not,” says Dr Brash.
ENDS
3197 (2006). Judith Collins to the Minister for Social Development and Employment (31 March 2006):
How many beneficiaries who have participated in a Providing Access to Health Solutions (PATHS) programme, have moved into paid employment, to date; broken down by region and office?
Hon David Benson-Pope (Minister for Social Development and Employment) replied: The PATHS (Providing Access to Health Solutions) programme, the first of its kind in the world, is aimed at helping recipients of the Sickness and Invalid's Benefit into the workforce by removing, reducing or managing the health problems that are preventing them from working. The PATHS initiative helps beneficiaries identify the health options available for their conditions, and provides access to crucial services that will enable them to get back to work.
MSD can advise the number of PATHS participants who were off benefit, and the number who had declared income at some point since entering the programme, by region as at the end of December 2005.
As at the end of December 2005, 25 clients participating in the PATHS South Auckland initiative had declared income at some point since entering the programme, while 40 were off benefit.
As at the end of December 2005, 21 clients participating in the PATHS Bay of Plenty initiative had declared income at some point since entering the programme, while 11 were off benefit.
As at the end of December 2005, 8 clients participating in the PATHS Wellington initiative had declared income at some point since entering the programme, while 14 were off benefit.
As at the end of December 2005, 2 clients participating in the PATHS Canterbury initiative had declared income at some point since entering the programme, while 3 were off benefit.

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