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Welfare changes unfair and unprincipled

CTU Media Release

9 July 2013

Welfare changes unfair and unprincipled

The CTU is very concerned about the substantial changes to the benefit system which come into effect next Monday. Eileen Brown, CTU Policy Analyst says “these changes pose significant risk to people and to communities.”

Eileen Brown says “we know that when there are jobs available, the number of people on unemployment benefit falls. The evidence of that is clear in the massive drop in numbers of people on benefits between 1999 and 2008. Renaming the benefit categories will not produce more jobs or improve outcomes. All it does is re-label people who are out of work for legitimate reasons”.

Eileen Brown says “the CTU supports the investment approach with more specific assistance for people to match them with a decent job. But the punitive measures being introduced alongside this are unfair and unprincipled.”

The new legislation introduces sanctions for people who don’t accept a job that is deemed to be suitable; brings in pre-employment drug testing requirements; introduces work testing for sole parents who have young children; and ties benefit receipt for solo parents to social obligations including attendance for young children over 3 at ECE and older children at school.

“These are coercive and punitive approaches. They stigmatise people who are already having a tough time,” says Eileen Brown.

“It will mean for example, that a sole parent with two young children could lose half their benefit if the State-imposed social obligations are not met. How can this benefit those children?”

“This pressure will force people into low paid poor quality work which they have no choice but to accept. Some will go off a benefit but won’t be in work either.”

“The CTU advocates for decent jobs with a living wage for workers seeking work and re-entering the workforce combined with support to gain access to education and skills development. We urge the Government to direct their focus and energy on job creation and more support for those out of work rather than attack beneficiaries,” concludes Brown.

ENDS

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