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Reform: Work-focussed Service Sites Announced

Welfare reforms: Sites for new work-focussed service announced

Trials of a new work-focussed service for all beneficiaries will begin in 12 locations across the country next month as part of the government's reform of the welfare system, Social Development and Employment Minister Steve Maharey said.

The 12 sites will be in Whangarei, Auckland, Otara, Hamilton, Tokoroa, Gisborne, Waitara, Masterton, Naenae, Nelson, Riccarton and Dunedin South.

Steve Maharey said the new service - which extends employment services to all beneficiaries, regardless of benefit type - would underpin the single core benefit to be introduced in 2007.

"The service will focus on work outcomes for all beneficiaries, not just the 20 percent on an unemployment benefit," Steve Maharey said. "Sole parents and people with disabilities or illness will have access to a full range of specialised employment services, including work seminars, job matching and training.

"Rather than categorising people on the basis of why they are unable to work, the service will focus on what support people need to help them move into work, regardless of their benefit type."

From September the pilot sites will also offer extra services to support people with ill health or disability to take up work as part of a $27.7 million Budget 2005 initiative. This will include dedicated employment support staff, access to some targeted health services and work assessments to identify employment possibilities.

"We can no longer assume that people with disabilities and illnesses don't want to work or are unable to. Many are eager to join the workforce but often face barriers such as high costs. Our reforms of the welfare system are geared towards removing those barriers and supporting people to move into the workforce."

Steve Maharey said Work and Income would continue to provide financial security to people with severe illnesses or disabilities who clearly were unable to work.

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