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Labour: focus on social development must continue

Hon Steve Maharey
Minister of Social Services and Employment
MP for Palmerston North

Hon Mark Gosche
Minister of Housing
MP for Maungakiekie

15 July 2002
Labour says focus on social development must continue

Labour is pledging to continue a strong focus on social development – investing in people so that they can secure a job, build a better life for their children and participate more fully in their communities.

Launching Labour’s social security and housing policies, Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey and Housing Minister Mark Gosche said Labour would build a decent future for all New Zealanders and would bring an end to National’s legacy of long-term unemployment and child poverty.

“Since the last election Labour has transformed the social landscape of New Zealand – but there remains more work to do to reduce inequality in our society,” Steve Maharey and Mark Gosche said.

“Unemployment is at a 14-year low thanks to the 104,000 new jobs which have been created, more than 52,000 low-income state tenants are receiving an income related rent, we have reversed National’s cuts to New Zealand Superannuation and secured its future with the creation of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund and we have refocused Work and Income into a social development agency which supports people to achieve their potential.

Investing in families

“Over the next three years we want to provide greater levels of support to families with annual reviews of Family Support and Family Tax Credit rates and thresholds. Our proposed Parenting Council will see a greater focus on building the skills needed to be an effective parent.

“Labour will also provide additional resources to Child, Youth and Family for community-based services directed to the needs of children and families and to improve social work practice within the department.
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Making Work Pay and simplifying the benefit system

“We will continue to improve the training and support provided to beneficiaries and increase our focus on Making Work Pay so that more New Zealanders move off welfare and into real jobs, earning real wages.

“Labour will simplify the benefit system to make it easier to understand and deliver. We will increase childcare support and introduce an ‘abatement-free zone’ for all beneficiaries receiving the Accommodation Supplement to encourage and reward people moving into employment.

“Alongside our commitment to see all 15 to 19 year olds engaged in education, training or work these changes will ensure more New Zealanders enjoy employment opportunities in our growing economy.

Building strong communities

“Our work with community and voluntary organisations has convinced Labour that a strong third sector is an essential building block in a modern society. We will establish a Social Development Fund to support and resource local leadership on social issues and implement the Community and Voluntary Sector Working Party suggestions to improve funding arrangements for third sector organisations,” Steve Maharey said.

Ensuring access to adequate housing

Mark Gosche said adequate housing is fundamental to the health and well being of families and communities.

“All New Zealanders must have access to quality, affordable housing. With income related rents state tenants on low incomes are paying no more than 25 percent of their income on rent and they are saving on average about $35 a week. We have also retained the accommodation supplement for low-income people in private accommodation.

“The public housing stock was run-down and about 11,500 houses were sold-off under National. Labour has already added about 1600 houses and in our next term we plan to acquire over 2,500 houses as well as continuing to modernise and upgrade existing houses.

“Other priorities include working in partnership with local government to keep local authority housing in public ownership and enhancing our work to build safe affordable dwellings in the Special Housing Action Zones. We will also continue to implement urban renewal programmes in areas with a high concentration of state houses,” Mark Gosche said.

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