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Social development working well

8 October 2001 Media Statement

Social development working well

Beneficiaries and low-income New Zealanders are benefiting under the Labour-Alliance Government, Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey told Wellington’s Downtown Community Ministry annual meeting this evening.

Steve Maharey said the Government was delivering on its core promise to restore the balance between economic and social objectives. Initiatives taken include a reorienting of the Department of Work and Income, considerable additional investment in health, education and other social services and the introduction of income-related rents. In addition, because of low unemployment rates more New Zealanders are getting into real jobs, earning real wages and improving their living standards.

“Since the election we have worked hard to give New Zealanders better opportunities to become self-sufficient. We have removed the punitive elements of the social assistance system we inherited from the previous government because they trapped people on benefits.

“When we scrapped the Community Work scheme, National and ACT MPs told everyone who would listen that beneficiary numbers would go through the roof. In fact the number of people on the unemployment benefit have dropped by nearly 10 percent in a year.

“A substantial culture change has taken place within the former Department of Work and Income following Don Hunn’s review. It is interesting to note, as an example, that MPs electorate offices are reporting a very substantial drop off in the number of constituents seeking help with benefit issues.

“Key projects undertaken in the last year include which are contributing to this include improvements to benefit information and services, reviewing benefit debts and reversing National’s superannuation cuts.

“Moving people off benefits and into sustainable paid work is still the best form of welfare available. The focus for the Government now is on making work pay – removing the obstacles which conspire to keep people on benefits,” Steve Maharey said.

ENDS.

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