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Communities will suffer from CEG scrapping

21 September, 2004

Communities will suffer from CEG scrapping

Green MP Sue Bradford said today that the scrapping of the Community Employment Group (CEG) is a major blow to community economic development in New Zealand.

"The scrapping of CEG without any clear or better replacement will have far reaching effects on communities and the not-for-profit sector," said Ms Bradford, the Green Party's Employment spokesperson.

"The reality is that CEG has been beset with a lack of leadership and commitment from the highest levels of government throughout its history. What began with great vision and hope in 1989 has been left to erode over the years since, with affected community groups and the people they support now the ultimate victims.

"What was valuable about CEG was that it supported community enterprise and economic activities in the not-for-profit sector. This sector finds it hard to get support from anywhere else and I fear that it will be forced to rely more on things like pokie profits that do far more to destroy communities than uplift them."

Ms Bradford said she held grave doubts over the future of social enterprise after the Government's decision to split CEG's role between the Department of Labour and the Ministry of Social Development.

"It appears that any focus on community economic development appears has been lost," she said. "CEG was never just about jobs, it was about supporting the efforts of local people in disenfranchised communities to build their own community-based enterprises.

"It's a great pity that the funding arm of CEG will be absorbed into Work and Income's dense bureaucracy where what remains is likely to focus on individual job seeker support rather than on developing community infrastructure.

"I hope that the Government's promised consultation will be genuine and not just lip-service. It's essential that groups that have worked with CEG are fully consulted and that whatever resources remain will be reinvested in community economic development - not in employing an ever-expanding number of policy analysts in the Department of Labour and the Ministry of Social Development," she said.

Ms Bradford has just returned from speaking at an international conference in Liverpool, the United Kingdom, on community development and social enterprise.

"I find it sadly ironic that the Government is scrapping CEG at the same time that other Governments like those in the UK and Canada have a comparatively high commitment to developing and supporting social enterprise," she said.

ENDS

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