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Steve, You Must Be Joking

Steve, You Must Be Joking

ACT New Zealand Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today slammed Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey for crowing about his removal of work testing for DPB recipients.

"His pride in, and subsequent promotion of, this move is a joke. It only serves to highlight the Labour Government's soft-on-welfare approach," Dr Newman said.

"The new bill abolishes work testing, and relaxes the requirements for the DPB - enabling sole parents to quit their jobs one day and go on the benefit the next to get more money. It allows them to take an overseas holiday for a month, and it does not require a DPB recipient to take a job until their youngest child is 18.

"Work testing of sole parents, after their children reached school age, began in 1998 under the previous Government. The programme had seen DPB beneficiary numbers hold, then reduce, for the first time in almost 30 years.

"Mr Maharey, however, reversed this tough love approach when he became Minister in 1999. The Beneficiaries Unions, his staunchest supporters, presented him with more than 100 demands - and the removal of the work test was at the top of the list.

"Treasury, however, warned that the work test was succeeding. The initiative had the potential to significantly reduce the number of DPB recipients but, with Mr Maharey as Minister, it was not to be.

"The Minister's new legislation changes, which will have case officers and clients working `together' to find the client work, will not succeed. It is a toothless piece of legislation that will do little to ease the taxpayer's burden of soaring DPB numbers," Dr Newman said.

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