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Maharey fails to Meet Welfare Challenge

Maharey fails to Meet Welfare Challenge

Tuesday 21 May 2002 Dr Muriel Newman Press Releases -- Social Welfare

Steve Maharey's ideological obsession against time limited benefits flies in the face both of overwhelming evidence of their international success, and New Zealand's need for a radical change in Welfare policy says ACT Welfare spokesman Dr Muriel Newman.

"In 1970, 36,000 benefits were supported by 1 million full time workers. Only 30 years later, 400,000 beneficiaries are supported by one and a half million full time workers.

"In 1970, there were 28 fulltime workers for each full time benefit. Today, there are 4 fulltime workers for each full time benefit. Of the $40 billion a year spent by this government, $14 billion goes to the welfare department on benefits and pensions. Official forecasts currently predict that the numbers on each type of benefit will continue to increase.

"As a Nation, we simply cannot hope to have the lower tax rates, high educational achievements, leading health services, strong families, and low crime rates, that we aspire to, when our welfare system prevents hundreds of thousands of working age kiwis from contributing through the workforce.

"Mr Maharey desperately promotes any paper that he can find that notes concerns on overseas strategies that include time limited benefits.

"The truth is that most reports that have been completed on Bill Clinton's time-limited welfare reforms report unprecedented success, and a halving of the numbers on Welfare.

"In New Zealand, we have a huge and growing challenge.

"In the last 30 years we have added 500,000 fulltime jobs, and 350,000 to working age benefits. Today, we have 111,000 persons on benefits for over five years.

"Labour's policies are entrenching more and more people into lifetime dependency. This Government has removed work for the dole, work testing of sole parents is being removed, both - at a time when Treasury projections show all benefits are set to grow.

"ACT says New Zealanders deserve better. New Zealand's Welfare system must be restored to the temporary safety net that was envisaged at its inception.

"We are promoting five-year time limits for the Unemployment and Sole Parent Benefits, and 40-hour work or training weeks for those who can work. As a country we need to be sending incentives to people to improve themselves and create better lives and that's what ACT will do," Dr Newman said.

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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