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Govt's inept policies hinder unemployment plans

19 January 2005

Govt's inept policies hinder new unemployment plans

The Green Party has welcomed Government initiatives to help the long-term unemployed, but believes Steve Maharey has made some significant policy errors which are getting in the way of this fine goal.

"I fully support Government efforts to help long-term unemployed people into work, and applaud its compassion for this group of vulnerable New Zealanders," Sue Bradford, Green Social Services Spokesperson said.

"However, I'm concerned that other policies they are implementing will get in the way of fulfilling this goal. For example, the Government is in the process of dismantling the Community Employment Group (CEG), which has played a key role over the past fifteen years in helping create jobs in disadvantaged communities.

"Since its inception, CEG field workers have built up invaluable expertise that is now going to be lost to New Zealand because the Government appears not to be pulling these experts into the Ministry of Social Development. That is a tragic loss."

However, Ms Bradford applauded the Government's decision to increase the subsidy available to organisations employing long-term unemployed workers to $380 a week.

"This measure will encourage more employers to utilise the long-term unemployed, and that is a great thing. However, I am seeking assurances from the Minister that the subsidy will only be available to non-profit organisations.

"It would be wrong if it were used by for-profit organisations or private individuals to exploit and make money off the vulnerability of this group of New Zealanders, as has happened in some similar schemes in the past."

The new initiatives also needed to be implemented with sensitivity, Ms Bradford said.

"Tackling long-term unemployment should be about helping, not hassling. These measures should not be taken as an excuse by the Ministry of Social Development to make beneficiaries feel harangued and victimised.

"Any visits to beneficiaries' homes must be optional, not compulsory. Many beneficiaries are fearful and mistrustful of home visits, and they should also be given the option to meet their case workers at a Work and Income office or a neutral location."

ENDS

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