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Time For Some Honesty On Welfare

Time For Some Honesty On Welfare

Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey claims to be trying to move beneficiaries into work, yet his track record shows he is a soft-on-welfare Minister pandering to the Beneficiary Union's demands, ACT New Zealand Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman said today.

"In today's New Zealand Herald, Mr Maharey said `we work with jobseekers to ensure they have the right skills to match local needs'. Yet, just last week, Northland fruit growers found that jobseekers, referred to them by the Work and Income Department, lacked the work ethic and were unable to do the job," Dr Newman said.

"The Minister also said that the welfare system was `backed by firm work tests, sanctions and fraud prevention'. But work testing was removed from the DPB, this Government's jobseeker work scheme is voluntary, and Benefit Fraud Detection was softened not long after Mr Maharey became Minister.

"The failure to detect benefit fraud, the growth in long-term unemployment and DPB mothers refusing to name the father of their children are all evidence of the Minister's soft approach to welfare. Soon after taking office, Mr Maharey was presented with a list of more than 100 demands from the beneficiary unions. These included softening or removing the very measures that he now claims ensure that the welfare system runs effectively.

"It's time for the Minister to come clean. His spin is becoming tiresome, especially when all the rhetoric in the world cannot disguise the fact that he is failing beneficiaries, and ripping off taxpayers," Dr Newman said.

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