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Welfare policies should measure up

Immediate Release: 24 January 2005

Welfare policies should measure up

ACT Deputy Leader and Social Services spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today published a checklist of criteria which to judge welfare policy initiatives against.

“The first check must be whether or not the proposed policy is good for children. In making this assessment it’s important to remember that the unequivocal evidence from New Zealand and overseas is that welfare damages children.

“Secondly, the proposals need to be checked as to whether they will reduce dependency. That’s against the disturbing rise in welfare dependency over the last 30 years, which has taken New Zealand’s ratio of full-time workers to beneficiaries from 28:1 to 4:1.

“Thirdly, will the proposals toughen up on the fraud and abuse that are rife within the present welfare system, as exemplified by the recent outcry from doctors regarding bogus sickness benefit claimants?

“That means that when welfare proposals are launched - including those to be released by the National Party this week - they should be judged against the following test:

1. Will they be good for children?

2. Will they reduce dependency?

3. Will they eliminate fraud and abuse?

“In a country that is critically short of workers, having 320,000 working age New Zealanders and 250,000 children dependent on welfare benefits, is indicative of a Labour Party that is soft on welfare and failing in this key portfolio area. I expect that the National Party’s proposals will do a whole lot better,” Dr Newman said.

ENDS

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