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'Single benefit' is a disguised swing to the right

23 February 2005

'Single benefit' is a cleverly disguised swing to the right

Green MP Sue Bradford says that, after having a day to closely study the Government's 'single benefit' proposal, she is convinced that it is a cleverly disguised swing to the right.

"This single benefit plan is symptomatic of Labour's ongoing move to the right in the welfare area," said Ms Bradford, the Green Party's Social and Economic Justice Spokesperson.

"They are trying to win over traditional National and ACT voters - people who demonise beneficiaries.

"The harassment of single parents and invalids and sickness beneficiaries is likely to intensify with the push to have everyone in the paid workforce. The clear message is that it is better to be in low wage or casual employment than it is to be a stay-at-home parent.

"This scheme is a 'single benefit' in name only, there will continue to be a high level of targeting, which means this is not really a genuine move to a universal benefit system.

"The agenda is clearly to get rid of some benefits. The Special Benefit is already gone and this morning Steve Maharey is signalling the end to the Widows' Benefit. Will the Independent Youth Benefit be next?

"Benefit cuts will happen, despite Government claims to the contrary. For instance, the loss of discretionary benefits such as the Special Benefit will mean that many people will receive less income. And invalids, who currently receive the highest benefit, will probably end up with less money because any add-ons to the base benefit will be calculated on verifiable costs, which is likely to be less than the simple core income support they currently receive.

"I won't accept that Labour is genuine in its desire to get long-term invalids and sickness beneficiaries back into work until it extends the Providing Access to Health Solutions, or PATH, programme to all such recipients. This scheme, which helps people get the health treatment they need to be able to work, is an example of a successful and pro-active Government programme that the Greens support.

"The Government also needs to actively promote and use section 66a of the Social Security Act, which allows people with severe disabilities to keep their whole benefit when they earn money through their own efforts.

"The Greens want to make the system genuinely simpler and fairer for all, with income support at levels people can actually live on and with proactive positive help for people to get into work and training, but not at any cost to their children, health or sanity," said Ms Bradford.

ENDS

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