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Pro-Active Steps Needed For Welfare Reform

Pro-Active Steps Needed For Welfare Reform

Tuesday 20 Apr 2004

Dr Muriel Newman - Social Welfare

At a meeting of the Executive Committee of ACT's Whangarei Branch, ACT New Zealand Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today outlined the first of a three-step plan for serious welfare reform - requiring beneficiaries to re-apply for their benefits.

"The advantages of such a pro-active step would be twofold: not only would it help eliminate beneficiaries' barriers to work, but it would also expose those receiving benefits to which they were not entitled," Dr Newman said.

"The re-application process would mean a careful evaluation of each beneficiary's needs. Those needs - be it assistance with childcare, transport, relocation, or help to purchase work attire - would be met, thus removing any obstacles to the individual's return to the workforce.

"Requiring everyone to re-apply for their benefit would also involve a re-evaluation of their welfare eligibility. Those receiving State assistance while ineligible - whether for lifestyle purposes, fraudulently and the like - would have their benefits stopped.

"Under Labour's so-called leadership, more and more DPB mothers are refusing to name the father of their children, fraud detection has collapsed, and benefit fraud in all its forms is estimated to cost us around $1 billion a year.

"And, yet, nothing is being done. All major parties recognise the seriousness of the welfare crisis, but none are willing to take pro-active steps to halt its rapid growth.

"Requiring all beneficiaries - except, of course, those receiving pension entitlements, or physically incapable of working - is just the first step. Time limits on benefits, and participation in full-time work experience are the others.

"The time for talk is over. It is time for action. Then, and only then, will we be able to halt the spread of this very real danger to New Zealand society, that is emptying taxpayers' pockets and destroying lives," Dr Newman said.

ENDS

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