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Welfare reform requires more than a name change

Judith Collins MP - National Party Welfare Spokeswoman

21 February 2004

Welfare reform requires more than a name change

National Party Welfare spokeswoman Judith Collins says beating welfare dependency in New Zealand requires more than just a superficial name change.

"Call it what you like, a name change won't move one single beneficiary off welfare and into work," says Ms Collins.

She is responding to Labour's plans to bring together all benefits under one name, with special add-ons for those with different circumstances. Labour has been telling beneficiaries the level of payment will remain unchanged.

"National is sceptical to say the least. Labour has had this plan on the books for years. There can't be any coincidence that this is being rolled out a month after Don Brash's welfare speech, when welfare is set to become an important election issue.

"If Helen Clark was really serious about tackling welfare and offering some fairness to the Kiwi taxpayers funding it, Labour would be talking about the hard issues that National has raised, including work testing and community work for the dole.

"Only National can be trusted to deliver policies designed to break the cycle of dependency.

"However, National is keeping an open mind and will take a closer look at the model for the universal benefit, to see how it fits with our plans to get more beneficiaries into work. "On the face of it, it's hard not to conclude Labour is more intent on appearing to do something, than actually doing something.

"I also remain suspicious about how beneficiary numbers will be recorded under this new regime given that Labour's made the figures look much better by hiding many thousands of unemployed on the sickness and invalids benefits over the past five years," says Ms Collins.

ENDS

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