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Making work pay

Budget 2002 includes a $131 million package of initiatives to help beneficiaries move off welfare and into sustainable work, says Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey.

The package builds on the $45 million Making Work Pay package contained in the 2001 budget and targets sole parents, long term beneficiaries with dependent children, low income parents already in the workforce and those contemplating taking up seasonal work opportunities.

“Removing the barriers beneficiaries face when taking up paid work is the key to making sure they stay in employment, earning real wages and building a better life for themselves and their families.

“Our welfare system is full of anomalies that lock people out of the workforce because the financial gains of being in work often do not stack up,” Steve Maharey said.

Budget 2002 provides [all figures over four years]:

- $55.254 million for a new more, active case management system for domestic purposes and widows beneficiaries. A new requirement in the Social Security (Working Towards Employment) Amendment Bill currently before Parliament will see both groups required to develop an annual plan detailing the steps they intend to take to move back into the workforce when parenting responsibilities and individual circumstances allow;

- $36.592 million to improve the number and quality of Out of School Care and Recreation (OSCAR) providers so that access to childcare is not an impediment to beneficiaries and low-income workers entering and/or remaining in the paid workforce;

- $22.02 million for a new Pathways payment which will assist long-term beneficiaries with children to meet the initial costs of taking on work. Outstanding benefit debt will also be suspended for these beneficiaries for the first three months of employment;

- $4.910 million to introduce a new single abatement regime from 26 August, 2002 for recipients of the domestic purposes and widows benefit making moving into employment more worthwhile.

“A further $10.2 million in reallocated funding will enable a new payment to be made to those in seasonal work who lose income because of adverse weather conditions.

“This year the government also intends trialling Individual JobSeeker Accounts which will test more flexible methods of providing targeted employment assistance to beneficiaries. $2 million in reallocated funding has been set aside for the pilots,” Steve Maharey said.


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