Maungakiekie MP welcomes new welfare reform legislation
Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, MP for Maungakiekie has welcomed the Social Security (Youth Support and Work Focus) Amendment Bill being passed into legislation yesterday.
“As Chair of the Social Services Committee, I have been actively involved in the changes to the welfare system. I fully support the principles of change involved to move from the previous benefit dependent system to an active, work-focused system”, says Mr Lotu-Iiga.
“I am pleased that this phase of welfare reform has been successfully completed. The next steps in overhauling the benefit system to a more fair and balance way can commence later this year”.
“These welfare reforms will require more working age people to look for work. The Government is also targeting those who can work but have been on a benefit long term.”
“The new legislation will bring about positive change to the lives of beneficiaries by offering more support for young people, sole parents, partners of beneficiaries and those on Widow’s and Women Alone benefits”, Mr Lotu-Iiga commented.
“For young people in particular, there will be greater obligations under the new legislation, but at the same time greater support to help them get the education needed to be independent of welfare”.
The Youth Package reforms contained in the Social Security Amendment Act commence on 20 August 2012, while work obligations for sole parents, Widow’s and Women Alone start in October 2012.
The next phase of Welfare Reform, scheduled for implementation in 2013, will simplify the benefit system and bring in a clearer focus on work.
Changes affecting young people and teen parents include:
• A managed system of payments with essential costs like rent and power paid directly, with an allowance and a payment card for living costs.
• Youth Service Providers incentivized to help young people into work, education or training. Young people encouraged to undertake budgeting and parenting courses.
• Guaranteed Childcare Assistance Payment, so childcare costs do not stop young parents from studying.
• Sharing information between ministries to target school leavers most at risk of coming onto a benefit from age 18.
Changes affecting DPB, Widow’s Benefit and Women Alone:
• Ensuring sole parents with children five and older are available for and supported into part-time work.
• Ensuring sole parents with children 14 and older are available for and supported into full-time work.
• Extending these work expectations to women receiving the Widow’s and Women Alone benefits and to partners of beneficiaries with children.
• Enabling Work and Income to direct people to prepare for work early.
• Requiring sole parents who have another child while on a benefit to be available for work after one year, in line with parental leave.