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Maharey Deceives Over DPB Softening

Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey has not a shred of evidence to support his removal of the work test, and papers released by the Treasury confirm that, says ACT Welfare spokesman Dr Muriel Newman. A bill to remove the test was debated in Parliament today.

"Treasury papers reveal that the percentage of sole parents employed has risen by 10 percent under work testing. Ministry of Social Development papers confirm the number of sole parents getting jobs has risen. The Minister's own answers to Parliamentary Questions show that the number of sole parents getting jobs each year has risen in the last three years from 8,000 to 10,000. In 1973 when the DPB was created, there were 13,000 recipients.

"By the time work testing commenced in 1997, the number had risen to 112,000, with budget projections that this number would rise to 124,000 in 2000/2001.

"For the first time in 30 years, the numbers on DPB have not only stopped climbing, they have dropped to 108,000" said Muriel Newman. Ten thousand less people on the Domestic Purposes Benefit saves the country $120 million a year.

"The only reason the Minister is removing the work test , against all evidence and advice, is because the Beneficiary Advocacy Group have demanded it. Since the election, Mr Maharey has forced the Ministry to work with this Group to implement as many of their 131 requirements as possible."

"Also, hidden away in the Bill debated today is a radical new policy allowing the Minister through regulation to write off identified debts for beneficiaries. It is a remarkable softening in the policy of recovering Welfare money which has been wrongly or illegally received.

"Mr Maharey's years as Minister have seen New Zealand Welfare policy softened to an astonishing degree, at a cost of tens of millions of dollars.

"But his worst legacy will be his confinement of many working age beneficiaries to longer benefit dependence" concluded Muriel Newman.

Ends




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