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National Releases Welfare Policy For Under-20s

4 July 2002

No young person should be leaving school without direction or support, or to go onto welfare, says National Party Leader Bill English.

"One of the most important times in a young person's life is the transition from youth to adulthood. National's welfare policy for under-20s will help young people move from education onto a job with the chance of a better future," Mr English said releasing the policy in Nelson today.

Currently 18,000 people under 20 are living on welfare, while the unemployment rate for 15 to 19 year olds is at least twice the national average.

"National will scrap the dole and DPB for anyone under 20, and replace it with participation in a Youth Transition Programme. The financial support will be the same as the current benefit level, but with more intensive support and assessment.

"Unemployed young people will be required to be actively seeking work, and undertake appropriate training or courses. There will be screening for any literacy, numeracy or drug and alcohol problems and help will be provided for those who need it. Those on the DPB will be required to make a commitment to parent or job training, or education.

"In return for a higher level of support, this policy will require a much higher level of commitment to getting into work or training.

"National will also provide more resources for truancy services and encourage all secondary schools to provide alternative programmes for at-risk pupils, because truancy is often the first step towards serious problems in life.

"It is a waste of New Zealand's talent and potential for young people to be stuck on welfare. National is ambitious, and will make sure young people get the intensive support and encouragement they need," said Mr English.


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