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WINZ?s Pathways To Welfare Dependency


WINZ?s Pathways To Welfare Dependency

Work and Income New Zealand's Pathways to Arts and Cultural Employment (PACE) scheme is offering more and more people the opportunity not to work, ACT New Zealand Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman said today.

"WINZ claims PACE is not increasing the number unemployed, but figures released by Associate Social Services & Employment Minister Rick Barker tell a different story," said Dr Newman.

"In the 10 months since PACE was created 2,149 budding `artists' have signed up to the programme. The most popular categories are `musician' with 195 people registered, `artist craftsperson' with 185, `film and television production staff' with 173, and `graphic designer' with 135. The least popular are `archivist', `basket and wicker worker', and `stuffed toy maker', each with one.

"Businesses around the country are currently calling out for workers, both skilled and unskilled. Finding unskilled labour is now harder than it has been in almost a decade - why, then, is the Government using PACE to entice able-bodied people onto welfare when there are more than enough options for those able to provide their own form of income?

"While ACT recognises the importance of arts and culture in our society, it is surely not the responsibility of taxpayers to pay for artists while they improve their skills. In every other field of occupational endeavour the funding for education and training is the responsibility of the individual themselves. Why should it be any different in the arts?

"The figures that are especially disturbing in the PACE statistics is the category labelled `other'. With 535 participants, it is the largest category. The Minister's explanation, that `some people in the PACE membership group do not have a first job choice recorded in the creative group of occupations', offers little comfort. It appears that people are now able to sign up to PACE, get a taxpayer-funded hand-out, and then decide what sort of art they want to specialise in later. I think New Zealand taxpayers deserve better than that," Dr Newman said.


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