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Single benefit looking like a spin-doctor sham

Single benefit looking like a spin-doctor sham

Labour's single benefit package has been a hurried election-year PR exercise to try to counter Opposition attacks on Labour's soft-on-welfare record, ACT Deputy Leader and Social Welfare spokesman Dr Muriel Newman said tonight.

"The whole country knows that the Labour Party is soft on welfare. As a result, on a regular basis, Welfare Minister Steve Maharey has been advised to make some `hard hitting' announcements in an attempt to look tough.

"We've already had his grand job creation scheme - the `Community Employment Organisations' - which was meant to create 4,000 jobs but delivered only 400 before sinking without trace. There was his flagship `Social Entrepreneur Scheme' that gave the country the now infamous hip-hop tour, before it too was scrapped.

"Then we had `Jobs Jolt' which was launched with great fanfare but failed to make any real difference. Now we have a re-run of an announcement made five years ago that he intends to introduce a single benefit.

"Given that the Minister's own Cabinet papers show that his scheme still has not received Cabinet approval, that it is short on detail, that it lacks proper costings, and that it is based on benefit numbers that simply don't stack up, I would not be at all surprised if this scheme never gets off the ground.

"Mr Maharey has a track-record of making exaggerated announcements that are big on spin but short on substance.

"Claims that the single benefit proposal is the biggest welfare change since 1938 is ridiculous. So are his claims that benefit numbers are going to fall, when the Government's own forecasters are showing beneficiary numbers increasing by over 28,000 over the next four years." said Dr Newman.

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