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Bradford: Bash the system not the beneficiaries

Bradford says: Bash the system, not the beneficiaries

The Green Party says beneficiaries are being unfairly victimized by politicians, when inadequacies in the health and welfare systems are really to blame for the rise in people claiming sickness and invalid’s benefits.

“Recent Labour and National governments are responsible for tightening ACC health and work testing requirements to the extent that many people with major mental and/or physical disabilities have been forced into the benefit system,” said Sue Bradford, the Green Social Welfare spokesperson.

“Meanwhile, never-ending waiting lists and huge gaps in the health system, both for physical operations and for psychological services, also mean it is taking longer for some people to access the services they need to render them fit for work.

“For example, extremely long waiting lists for addiction services mean that people who might otherwise be assisted are left on the scrap-heap and are stuck with an invalids or sickness benefit.”

Ms Bradford also pointed out that the longer people stay on any benefit, including the unemployment benefit, the more likely they are to be in poor mental and physical health, and therefore more likely to move to a sickness or invalid’s benefit.

“We've had structural unemployment for two decades now,” said Ms Bradford. “The rising numbers of mentally and physically sick people is a direct result of entrenched poverty and unemployment.

“It is rich for National to be crying foul over the numbers of people on these benefits, when it was National which cut benefits in 1991, and which continues to encourage patronising and hostile attitudes towards beneficiaries who are sick or out of work through no fault of their own.”

Sue Bradford said the real answer to helping people off invalids and sickness benefits lay in:

• Changing the way in which ACC works with long term and seriously injured claimants so that people are genuinely rehabilitated before being pushed off income-related compensation;

• Improving funding and access to physical and mental health services in all parts of New Zealand, including speedy access to addiction treatment;

• Changing attitudes and services so that beneficiaries are genuinely assisted into work, and that sick and injured people are not be blamed or penalised for their situation.

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