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Beehive Bulletin Friday, 27 May 2005

Beehive Bulletin
Friday, 27 May 2005

200,000 families benefiting from 1 April changes

Almost 200,000 families are already receiving extra help as a result of the 1 April Working for Families increases in family income assistance says Social Development and Employment Minister Steve Maharey. Initial uptake figures released this week show 196,230 families, with around 385,000 children, received family income assistance from either Inland Revenue or the Ministry of Social Development in April. The figure is set to exceed 260,000 by April next year, before the In-Work payment takes effect, and reach 300,000 by the time the roll-out is complete in 2007. "These results are clear evidence that the Working for Families package is already making a difference for New Zealand families," Steve Maharey said. "The average Inland Revenue family assistance payment was $113 per week - a 33 percent or $28 increase on April last year."

Terms of reference for Immigration Act Review released

Terms of reference for the review of the 18-year-old Immigration Act have been released this week. Immigration Minister Paul Swain says a fundamental review of the Act is needed to make it more relevant to New Zealand's needs and the international environment. "More people are travelling than ever before, tourism is increasingly important and there is growing demand for skills and labour. Just as important, given increasing security concerns following September 11, is New Zealand's right to keep out the people we don't want and remove those who shouldn't be here." Paul Swain says the review is part of a wider push from the government to attract skilled migrants, improve border security and regulate immigration agents.

Programme for flood recovery and rehabilitation

A recovery facilitator has been appointed to work with the Whakatane District Council on a rehabilitation and recovery programme for the flood-devastated town of Matata. The programme, announced earlier this week by Prime Minister Helen Clark and Civil Defence Minister George Hawkins, will focus on recovery planning, stream diversions, clean-ups, and resurvey and land purchase as appropriate. Cabinet has also agreed to remove the threshold for costs to be met for the Whakatane District Council's other response costs taking into account that in the current financial year Whakatane District Council has also had to meet the costs of last July's major flood event. The total contribution of government into the mayoral relief funds for the three council areas affected by the floods will total $250,000.

One-stop shop a hit in the heartland

The government's Heartland Service centres have received near-unanimous approval with a new survey showing 96 per cent public satisfaction say Social Development and Employment Minister Steve Maharey and Rural Affairs Minister Damien O'Connor. Heartland Service centres have been established in 30 locations across the country to help connect rural New Zealanders to government services. The centres provide a "one-stop shop" for a range of agencies including Housing New Zealand, ACC, Career Services and Work and Income. The Colmar Brunton survey shows 96 per cent of people are satisfied with their visits to the centres with 75 per cent saying they were "very satisfied."


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