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Report Avoids Issue Of Welfare Dependency

The Social Report 2001 skirts around New Zealand's most serious social problem - that more than three-quarters of a million people are now dependent on the state for their livelihood, ACT social welfare spokesperson Muriel Newman says.

Dr Newman said she commended the government for undertaking the report. However, she was concerned by the shortcomings it showed up in New Zealand society, particularly the number of children living in poor households.

"The people who are not doing well in our society are mainly those who are dependent on the state for their income," Dr Newman said.

"Sole-parent, and Maori and Pacific Island households are shown to be particularly at risk.

"The report fails to mention that more than three-quarters of a million New Zealanders - many of them children - are living in households which depend on state benefits.

"There's no suggestion that this government is prepared to tackle the problem of welfare dependency, in fact, under their stewardship it's got worse.

"By doing this study, the Government appears to be trying to build a case to justify its Closing the Gaps policy. But Closing the Gaps isn't working. In fact, all it does is create more dependency, not only for families but now for Maori organisations as well, which can go to the state for a $2000 handout with no strings attached.

"This government is unwilling to tackle the real issue which is to get people off welfare and back into productive work," Dr Newman said.

"Overseas experience has shown two key ways to reduce the welfare dependency. The first is to require able-bodied people to undertake some kind of work or training in return for a benefit. The second is a limit on how long people can receive a benefit. It should be no longer than two years at a time or five years in a lifetime.

"Unless the government faces up to the real issue of welfare dependency, it will have wasted its time in producing the Social Report 2001," Dr Newman said.


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