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Maharey Abandons Thousands

Friday 21 May 2004

Dr Muriel Newman - Press Releases - Social Welfare

ACT New Zealand Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today released new information proving, conclusively, that Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey has no intention of moving the long-term unemployed into work.

"Answers to my written Parliamentary Questions have revealed that, as of the end of April 2004, only 17 percent of people in receipt of the Unemployment Benefit for more than 10 years were being work-tested," Dr Newman said.

"According to these figures - provided by Mr Maharey's own Ministry - 4,888 unemployment beneficiaries had been on the benefit for more than 10 years. Of those, only 835 were actually registered unemployed and, therefore, subject to work-testing.

"This is completely unacceptable. It is an utter disgrace that these people are trapped in a cycle of long-term welfare dependency and, not being registered unemployed, are receiving no help whatsoever to get off welfare.

"Isn't registering as unemployed a requirement for receiving the benefit - allowing WINZ to determine whether or not a person is actually eligible for State assistance? This information shows that this does not seem to be the case.

"Or has the Minister changed the rules without telling anyone? Given his record of kowtowing to the Beneficiary Unions - reinstating the Sickness Benefit as a standalone benefit, softening benefit fraud detection, and replacing the proven Work for the Dole with the toothless Activity in the Community - this would not come as a surprise.

"Long-term welfare dependency is at hard end of welfare management. Mr Maharey has consistently shown himself unable - or unwilling - to address it, placing it in the `too-hard' basket. But we should be able to expect more from a Minister - even a Labour Minister.

"It is time for Mr Maharey to front up. I demand that he publicly explain why these people are not registered unemployed, and why he is happy to consign 4,053 people to the scrapheap," Dr Newman said.


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