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Single benefit opens way for non-govt agencies

Single benefit opens way for non-government agencies

If the government’s move towards a single core benefit proves successful in reducing the amount of time spent on administering the benefit, then the role of Work and Income case managers will have to change dramatically, according to United Future deputy leader Judy Turner.

“The government claims that the current system of 10 different benefits and 36 add-on payments means that case managers were spending 70 percent of their time administering payments,” she said.

“Under a single benefit system, it is estimated that this time would be reduced to 30 percent.

“Work and Income case managers will be expected to become much more actively involved in preparing clients for work, returning them to work and keeping them in work,” said Mrs Turner, “and I’m not convinced that this will be a simple transition from their current focus.

“This is a perfect opportunity to involve non-governmental organisations in assisting beneficiaries into work.

“We shouldn’t go as far as handing over the entire case management of clients to outside entities, as they have in Australia, since this moves the power to sanction beneficiaries away from the state.

“But there’s no reason why we could not move to a system where such agencies could be paid a premium for every person they place into sustainable employment, with higher fees for placing those with significant barriers to employment.

“This would not only save money in the long term, but would utilise the expertise that is already out there amongst non-governmental agencies who are already helping people to find work on limited resources,” said Mrs Turner.

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