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Sickness benefit changes admission of failure

Sickness benefit changes admission of failure

Tuesday 25 Jan 2005

Dr Muriel Newman - Press Releases - Social Welfare

Labour has all but admitted that its soft-on-welfare approach has allowed too many work-shy New Zealanders to receive a Sickness Benefit, ACT Deputy Leader and Social Welfare spokesman Dr Muriel Newman said today.

The MP was responding to Social Development Minister Steve Maharey's announcement today that the Government will allow doctors to seek a second opinion in situations where they have doubt over a person's eligibility for a Sickness Benefit.

"Steve Maharey trumpets the fact that unemployment has fallen. Yet at the same time, the number of New Zealanders receiving the Sickness Benefit has blown out," Dr Newman said.

"For the past five years, Steve Maharey has turned a blind eye to able-bodied beneficiaries, who should be working, signing up to the Sickness Benefit.

Dr Newman said that 54,000 adults were currently supported by the Sickness Benefit - an increase of over 30 percent since Labour took office. In addition, those languishing on a Sickness Benefit for over 10 years have grown 63 percent - from 3,322 to 5,415.

"Allowing people to shift from the dole onto the Sickness Benefit - to avoid work-testing - at great speed and with no accountability has seen the Government become a victim of its own soft-on-welfare policies.

"ACT is committed to getting people off welfare and into work. We will eliminate much of the fraud and abuse that has plagued the welfare system so that only those truly in need receive assistance," Dr Newman said.

ENDS


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