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Bradford's Bill Restores Dignity To Beneficiaries

Sue Bradford's Member Bill To Restore Dignity To Beneficiaries

23 March 2000

Green Party Income Support Spokesperson Sue Bradford has a new members bill in today's ballot, aimed at restoring the self-respect of New Zealanders receiving a benefit.

Ms Bradford said her Social Security (Work Testing and Community Wage) Amendment Bill would remove some of the harsh coercive measures which have been used by Work and Income New Zealand to punish and demean New Zealanders receiving benefits.

"The bill aims at deflating the ego-driven, moral high ground which WINZ has taken in the last few years," she said. "By removing some of the more punitive tools available to them, this bill will encourage WINZ to take a more supportive and encouraging stance in their dealings with beneficiaries."

The bill would get rid of the work-for-the-dole scheme, repeal coercive work tests and stop punitive benefit suspensions. It would also do away with the current 13 week stand-down period and restore student eligibility for the community wage over the summer holidays.

The bill provides for a $21 per week participation allowance to volunteers who are genuinely carrying out community work.

"Green Party policy is to support voluntary work in the community," said Ms Bradford. "Although $21 is not a huge financial incentive, it sends the right signals to people who are prepared to volunteer their skills and energy to support their community.

"Living on a benefit is not a lifestyle choice, as some politicians and senior management in WINZ seem to think. It is in fact, a limiting and onerous existence. Those who find themselves on a benefit deserve the unreserved assistance and support of all WINZ staff, and this bill will help assure that they get it."


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