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Report shows work-for-the-dole scheme failing

Hon Steve Maharey
Minister of Social Services and Employment
Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education)
Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector
MP for Palmerston North

26 March 2000

Suppressed report shows work-for-the-dole scheme failing

The Social Services and Employment Minister, Steve Maharey, today released a July 1999 report suppressed by National evaluating the work-for-the-dole scheme.

The report reveals that the scheme, trumpeted by National as a success, has failed to lead people into permanent employment. It also suggests that sponsors have become dependent on Community Work placements and that the scheme may have decreased the number of real jobs available. Mr Maharey said the report proved that National's costly scheme had done nothing to enhance the chances of the unemployed earning a real wage in a real job.

"National rushed work testing legislation through the last Parliament ignoring the overwhelming weight of evidence pointing to the very problems which have now been identified in the Department of Work and Income report.

"Most tellingly, the report finds that compelling beneficiaries into Community Work in return for the benefit did not have any positive impacts on job seeker training and employment outcomes.

"The majority of placements were found amongst voluntary and government organisations who became dependent on the free labour provided by the scheme. A small group of private employers have also benefited and there is evidence that Community Work has taken real jobs out of the economy.

"The Community Work scheme was the centrepiece of National's employment and social welfare reform. It's establishment cost $43m and led to the restructuring of 4,500 staff. In the end it is clear that the programme has proved to be less effective than the old voluntary Community Taskforce scheme which it replaced.

"As we argued in Opposition it would have been a far better use of this money to have invested it in job creation opportunities.

"The new Government will be scrapping the Community Wage and this report makes it clear that to continue with the programme would be of no value. Legislation ending the scheme will be introduced into Parliament later this year," Steve Maharey said.

ENDS

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