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National outlines welfare reforms

National outlines welfare reforms

National Leader Bill English has attacked Government policies which encourage welfare dependency and avoid helping those in need, in a speech outlining some of National's plans to toughen up on welfare.

In the speech to the Dunedin Business Group Mr English said the number of people on welfare had increased nine-fold in the past 28 years to 350,000, but the Government wasn't interested in tackling the growing number.

"Labour likes them how they are, dependent, grateful, reliable voters. Helen Clark and Steve Maharey are creating more state dependency". Mr English congratulated renegade Labour MP John Tamihere for his critical comments of Labour's welfare policies, but said Mr Tamihere was in the wrong party.

"Welfare is not a lifestyle choice or entitlement, but temporary assistance on the way back to independence.

"National believes work matters. Work has values way beyond increased income. It restores the pride and self-esteem that dependency destroys. We're considering a range of measures to support the people whose needs get lost in the large numbers that welfare agencies have to deal with," he said.

Mr English said National advocated work for the dole. "We will penalise those who don't actively seek work, or deliberately flunk work interviews, and we're looking at time limits on receipt of the dole.

"We'll reinstate the work test for a return to part-time work once the youngest child is six, with the intention of preparing them for work once the child is 14. We will also promote on-going education as a requirement for receipt of the DPB.

"National is also looking at removing the state monopoly on work placement of those on welfare. We are looking at the Australian system where work placement is largely carried out by private and community organisations on a pay for performance basis," Mr English said.

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