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Employers penalised for hiring non-Maori

Employers penalised for hiring non-Maori

National Party Social Services spokeswoman Katherine Rich says if Labour was serious about targeting need it would act immediately to review a Work and Income scheme that penalises employers for hiring non-Maori.

"There appears to be a belief at Work and Income that being Maori makes someone more disadvantaged. This is not true. There is no causal link between being Maori and being unemployed."

Mrs Rich is commenting on answers to parliamentary questions received from Social Development and Employment Minister Rick Barker about the Job Plus and Job Plus Maori Asset scheme. Under those schemes employers can receive up to $214 a week for up to year for taking on a registered job seeker.

"The average payment under the Maori-only scheme is double that of the general scheme," says Mrs Rich.

"The answers confirm a complaint I received from a Lower Hutt constituent who was incensed that a Work and Income case manager told him that if he hired a Maori employee he'd get more money for up to twice as long."

This follows revelations that Work and Income staff in Manukau can get bigger bonuses for placing Maori in jobs.

Under the general Jobs Plus scheme, subsidies to employers cost $43,933,879 for 19,771 job placements - an average of $2222 for each placement. But the Job Plus Maori Assets scheme saw 466 placements made, at a cost of $2,137,863 - an average of $4587 per person.

"Non-Maori make up the vast majority of our unemployed. There is no good reason to continue this race based policy," says Mrs Rich.

"Issues like a lack of education or job experience, health problems like addictions, length of time out of work and abuse, are far more important indications of disadvantage than skin colour.

"Both programmes should provide the same subsidies for the same length of time regardless of race," Mrs Rich says.

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