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DPB And Widows Benefit Changes Flawed - Evaluation

Evaluation Shows DPB And Widows Benefit Changes Flawed

A new evaluation of National’s 1999 changes to the domestic purposes and widows benefits reveals many flaws which the Government is moving to address, Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey said today.

The evaluation report, released today, was commissioned by the last Government to monitor the changes it made to both benefits on 1 February 1999 requiring sole parents to return to the workforce once their youngest child turned six years of age. It finds that while sole parents are highly motivated to enter and stay in employment, the changes introduced by National were not underpinned by sufficient support to make this an achievable and sustainable reality for many.

Steve Maharey said the Government is considering the evaluation report and plans to make changes to the way the DPB and widows benefit are administered in the light of its findings.

“Providing opportunities for beneficiaries to move into sustainable work is best long-term policy to improve their, and their children’s, living standards. The evaluation shows that DPB and widows beneficiaries aspire to rejoin the workforce.

“However, as the report notes, the changes National made to both benefits failed to adequately support sole-parents getting, and keeping, a job. It shows punative approaches to welfare do not work. Childcare was inadequate, support provided by case managers was patchy and the Department of Work and Income was not sufficently resourced to handle the new policy.

“In the light of the evaluation findings the Government will be changing the administration of both benefits. Adopting a social development approach to welfare will provide case managers with the tools they need to positively intervene with beneficiaries.

“It is clear that a more intensive and personalised style of case management is a necessary pre-condition to getting a job, and that on-going support is required to make sure taking and staying in a job is a realistic option,” Steve Maharey said.

Ends

Electronic copies of the evaluation report are available from Mr Gibbs and the report has been posted to the Ministry of Social Development website at www.msd.govt.nz.

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