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Progressive Coalition Social Security policy

18 July 2002

Grant Gillon MP and candidate for Northcote

Social Security policy

Grant Gillon MP and Progressive Coalition candidate for Northcote will release the full Progressive Coalition policy on social security when he speaks to the North Shore Community and Social Services Network meeting today.

The social security policy key commitments are :

- Winter energy cost rebate for beneficiaries, superannuitants and low-income earners.

- A Commission of Inquiry into balancing work and family.

- Inflation adjustments for family support

Other aspects of the policy include:

- Improving disability support,

- Progressively lowering benefit abatement rates to allow extra earnings; and

- Reviewing the way funding is delivered to community and voluntary groups dealing with social security, so that they can reduce volunteer time, energy and money spent putting together complex funding applications.

“The Progressive Coalition will be in the next Government as Helen Clark has said Jim Anderton will be in the next Cabinet. These policies have a strong chance of being implemented.

“This policy can make a big difference to ordinary New Zealanders who I think the people of North Shore represent very well.

“Social security is about meeting the basic needs of life. Our policy is linked to the provision of vital public services such as health, education, housing, employment programmes, drug rehabilitation, and accident compensation,” said Grant Gillon.

Grant Gillon is campaigning for both votes. He is running second behind the Labour candidate and could win the seat giving Northcote residents two Government MPs.

The meeting is 12.15, 18 July at St Peters Anglican Church, 11 Killarney Street Takapuna.

***

18 July 2002

Grant Gillon MP

Social Security policy

Cornerstone Commitments:

Winter energy cost rebate for beneficiaries, superannuitants and low-income earners.

We will hold a Commission of Inquiry into balancing work and family.

Inflation adjustment family support.

General

Social security is about meeting the basic needs of life with reasonable safety and predictability. Policy here is linked to the provision of vital public services such as health, education, housing, employment programmes, drug rehabilitation, and accident compensation.

Policy should address the issues from all relevant angles: growing the economy, reducing poverty, better housing, increased access to education, increased incentives to work out of benefits, better housing, etc. And in the meantime, ensure that those on benefits can live with a measure of dignity, not in poverty.

The Clark Anderton Government has addressed poverty by increasing the base (married) rate of superannuation by over $40 a week and introducing a secure superannuation fund; introducing income-related rents for state houses; increasing the minimum wage; and introducing paid parental leave.

In addition, the Clark-Anderton Government has created 104,000 new jobs in the last two years and produced the highest workforce participation rates since records began in the early eighties. The employment opportunities that are created reduce poverty, reduce the number of New Zealanders relying on welfare benefits and improve the Government’s ability to meet the needs of those remaining in vulnerable situations.

Progressive Ambitions

- Provide inflation-linked benefits for those who need them, in a dignified manner, via efficient agencies at a level that enables recipients to participate in and belong to their communities.

- Change the circumstances and policies which drive people onto benefits and which keep them there.

Progressive Steps

1. Winter energy cost rebate for beneficiaries, superannuitants and low-income earners. A rebate of about $15 a month for superannuitants, beneficiaries and low income workers will reduce winter power bills by about a quarter. (See also our Electricity Policy).

2. We will hold a Commission of Inquiry into balancing work and family. The biggest challenge facing working families is the competing demands of work and family. We’ll put the issues on the table for discussion. Issues like childcare and after school care, hours of work, trading hours and holidays. pay equity, employment opportunities and family taxation issues.

3. Inflation adjustment for family support. Fewer kids are living in poverty because the Clark-Anderton Government introduced income-related rents for state houses. But there is more to do. Increasing family support is the best step we can take immediately to reduce the number of children living in poverty.

4. Progressively reduce the number of people needing to claim benefits by promoting full employment and higher workforce participation rates, through a partnership approach to economic development and investment in innovation, skills and strong regions.

5. Progressively lower abatement rates to allow extra earnings before benefits are reduced, so that beneficiaries keep more of their supplementary income and the transition from part-time to full time work will be encouraged.

6. Progressively abolish income and asset testing for geriatric rest care.

7. Improve disability support.

8. Review the way funding is delivered to community and voluntary groups dealing with social security, to reduce volunteer time, energy and money spent putting together complex funding applications.

9. Clamp down further on fraud.

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