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Response to WINZ report on the right track

Green Party Social Services spokesperson Sue Bradford today said that, while she still had concerns, the Government's response to the Hunn Report into WINZ was on the right track.

Ms Bradford said that while she still held considerable doubts about the management of Department of Work and Income Chief Executive Christine Rankin, she was particularly pleased with a greater focus on employment within the Department.

"While there is much that needs fixing inside WINZ, I am heartened that Steve Maharey has recognised the need for the Department to work much more co-operatively with community groups and advocates of the unemployed," said Ms Bradford. "It is high time that beneficiary advocacy groups were acknowledged for the expertise and positive input they can have on helping to improve WINZ policies and operations.

"The focus from WINZ since its formation has been more on paying benefits than on finding jobs for people," said Ms Bradford. "I am pleased that the Community Employment function of the Department is to transfer to the Department of Labour in order to support the Government's aim of the community finding local solutions to unemployment.

"The Community Employment Group and the groups with which it works have suffered immensely since it was restructured into the WINZ conglomerate, and I hope that this shift to the Department of Labour will revive and strengthen its potential to assist with grassroots community economic development and job creation projects," said Ms Bradford.

However, Ms Bradford said she was still concerned with the move to increase the power and flexibility of Regional Commissioners as often these people came from income support or corporate backgrounds and have little experience or understanding of the employment side of the Department's work which the Government says it is so keen on strengthening.

"The Green Party will be keeping a close eye on developments with the Department of Work and Income and Community Employment, and I hope that at last we do have a Government which means what it says when it comes to improving prospects for unemployed people and beneficiaries."

Ends

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

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