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WINZ Needs More Than A Name Change

Green Party Social Services spokesperson Sue Bradford today said WINZ needed more than a name change if it was to provide adequate services to people seeking jobs.

She said the government should also examine how they could fire chief executive Christine Rankin.

Ms Bradford said perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the Hunn Report into WINZ was the dominance of income support over employment services - with 70 per cent of the department's business being paying benefits and only 30 per cent on employment placement.

"The chief executive and most of senior management were from the old Income Support and this has quite rightly caused concerns according to the Hunn report," said Ms Bradford. "The imbalance of focus and resources within the department is of huge concern to the Green Party.

"Obviously employment placement requires vastly different skills and commitments than simply paying benefits," she said. "While benefit payment is important, employment placement is at least equally so and WINZ needs urgent change to reflect this."

Ms Bradford said she agreed wholeheartedly with the report when it stated that a cultural shift is required to encourage greater flexibility on the employment side of the department and that income support was 'process driven' and 'prone to rigidity'.

"I am also extremely concerned that in terms of employment placement, WINZ has not met its own employment targets with regard to Maori and the long-term unemployed," said Ms Bradford.

"I am not surprised that WINZ staff are calling for greater local flexibilty to meet the needs of job seekers, however the Greens hold serious doubts that WINZ staff have the expertise required to handle employment placement and job creation," she said.

"Obviously the department will need to recruit or train more people with the appropriate skills to empower people to look for jobs and not to punish them, as they have currently been trained to do."

Ms Bradford said the lack of trust staff have in senior management was hardly surprising. She was also concerned at the reported inability of senior managers to cope with diverse views within the organisation.

"The Community Employment Group has suffered the most as it is a small but essential part of job creation and community development and has been overwhelmed by the larger organisation," she said.

"The Greens are very concerned that the report highlights the poor understanding of WINZ for community employment development."

Sue Bradford MP: 04 470 6720, 025 243 4239; Jonathan Hill (press secretary): 04 470 6719, 021 110 1133

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