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Entitlements to hi-needs sickness and unemployment

Government providing legal entitlements to hi-needs sickness and unemployment beneficiaries

Associate Minister of Social Services and Employment Rick Barker said today that figures detailing the highest claimants of unemployment and sickness benefits showed that the State was providing those clients with the minimum of what they were legally entitled to.

Mr Barker recently released figures detailing the amounts paid by Work and Income to the five highest claimants of unemployment and sickness benefits in the country, in response to an ACT Party request for the information.

However, despite the frequency and amounts paid to the hi-needs unemployment and sickness beneficiaries, Mr Barker stressed that the figures represented what the State was legally obliged to pay each client.

“These people, whose identities of course will remain private, are quite simply living in exceptional circumstances. I have been assured that all of these cases involve mainly larger families - families with high medical and accommodation costs, the needs of which the State is obliged to meet on a case by case basis.”

In almost every case, Mr Barker said the exceptional health and welfare needs of the claimant and their depedents in turn qualified them for higher special benefit and accomodation allowances.

“These are families, people whose circumstances were not of their making or choosing. The State has a legal and moral obligation to help and support these people through their time of need and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

The higher supplementary benefits paid to each client were also reviewed on a regular basis.

While it was easy to draw comparisons between what the beneficiaries received and others earned, Mr Barker said those who felt the need to spoon-feed the media which such slanted information should also be prepared put their social services policies on the table.

“Would ACT cut the funding for the childrens health needs in these cases or let these families live on the street because they couldn’t afford to meet their basic housing costs, or both?

“If we weren’t helping these families, you can bet this Government would be in the gun from its political rivals, the media and the public on how we were neglecting hi-needs beneficiaries with children who also had considerable health and welfare needs.

“ACT would presumably have these families live on the street, destitute, whereas this Government believes that those who are in dire straits should be given assistance in their time of need until they can get back on their own two feet.”

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