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Maharey's news only tiny part of the solution

Maharey's news only tiny part of the solution

The Labour Party's adoption of the single benefit concept is only the first step in ACT's five-step plan to overhaul the welfare system, ACT Deputy Leader and Social Welfare spokesman Dr Muriel Newman said today.

"While this is a step in the right direction, and one that Welfare Minister Steve Maharey has promised since July 2000, on its own it won't do anything to get the 355,000 working age adults off welfare.

"In fact, Mr Maharey's over-the-top promises fly in the face of the Government`s latest forecasts."

The December Economic Forecast Update forecasted beneficiary numbers to go up 28,000, or 9.1 percent, in the next four years.

"On one hand we now have the Minister promising benefit numbers will fall as a result of his more simplified benefit system. While on the other, Treasury forecasts show the numbers will rise.

"Labour is clearly talking this single benefit move up in election-year. However the reality is, over the past 30 years ad-hoc welfare initiatives by both Labour and National have created a growing welfare dependency culture that a single benefit can not turn around on its own

"That is why ACT has been advocating a holistic approach through its five step plan. As well as introducing a single benefit, beneficiaries should be made to reapply for their benefits each year, case management should be more proactive, the work search period should be time limited, and then beneficiaries should be moved into full-time work placement programmes.

"Labour got soft and scrapped work-for-the-dole but ACT believes it's a crucial step into motivating people back into the workforce.

"Labour's merging of the benefits is largely presentational. While it will undoubtedly led to a reduction in bureaucracy, on its own it does nothing to proactively get people back into work.

"The real issue is not what we call benefits or how we administer them. The real issue is how we reduce growing welfare dependency and abuse in these times of so-called record-low unemployment.

"The Labour's Party announcement is only a tiny part of the solution. The bottom line will be whether or not they're prepared to go further," said Dr Newman.

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