INDEPENDENT NEWS

Labour's Welfare Policy: Community Work Stays

Published: Thu 9 Sep 1999 10:11 AM
"It is astonishing that after years of attacks on Government employment and welfare policy, Labour has to admit it won't raise benefit levels nor make any substantial changes in the current direction of welfare, despite clear indications to the contrary," Associate Work and Income Minister Peter McCardle said today.
"Labour's policy announced today has little that's new. It says yes to WINZ, yes to Regional Commissioners, and yes to giving jobseekers practical work experience - Community Work under another name. These are all current Government initiatives.
"Labour seems to think it's some kind of dramatic change to promise to stop the Community Work scheme, along with the Community Wage - which is merely the name of a benefit. Yet his policy announcement clearly implies there will be a similar scheme with another name, but with extra payments to sponsors. Steve Maharey is fooling no-one.
"The reality is that Community Work is simply a commonsense way of helping large numbers of people get practical work experience in between paid jobs.
"It is succeeding as planned, and is on target, with around 30,000 people having participated over the past year. The vast majority take part voluntarily. More than 4,500 community organisations are taking part as sponsors. So much for Maharey's claim that it had no public support. But it is just one of many pre-employment schemes run by WINZ.
"I am pleased to see Maharey confirm it would keep WINZ, which set a record for getting sole parents into work, despite earlier saying he wouldn't. Labour is to be congratulated for accepting the reason for setting up WINZ, which is helping fit and able beneficiaries get back into work. Being on a benefit should be, for most people, temporary help between paid jobs and not a permanent way of life funded by the state," he concluded.
ENDS

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