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Multimillion-$ programme to have little effect

Multimillion-dollar programme to have little effect

“A $30 million boost in the Budget to a programme targeting sickness and invalids beneficiaries will do virtually nothing for the overall numbers,” says National Party Welfare spokeswoman Judith Collins.

The recent Labour Budget included a $27.7 million expansion of a service to help sickness and invalids beneficiaries into work. The total programme will cost $127.8 million over four years.

In December, Treasury was estimating that in the 2007/08 year there would be 84,000 people collecting the Invalids Benefit and 50,000 collecting the Sickness Benefit.

“Treasury’s projections on Budget day show that only 3,000 will have dropped off the Invalids Benefit by 2007/08 and there would be no change in the Sickness Benefit.”

As at April 30 this year there were 74, 035 collecting the Invalids Benefit and 44 268 collecting the Sickness Benefit.

“Invalids Benefit numbers have been revised downwards slightly, but they’re still expected to rise significantly. Sickness Benefit numbers are expected to be unaffected in spite of the extra money injected into Labour’s costly programme.

“Labour’s initiatives will do virtually nothing to reduce the number of New Zealanders claiming the Sickness and Invalids Benefits.

“They will continue to rise practically unabated. Labour is spending a further $30 million of taxpayer money on a programme that isn’t expected to work.

“This is further evidence that Labour can’t be trusted to set up their vague ‘single benefit system’. They will do precisely as they have in health - reorganise the waiting lists so the numbers don’t look so bad.

“National will find a better balance. We will expect mutual obligations through things like a more consistent testing regime for those seeking the Sickness and Invalids Benefit, and we will require community work or retraining for those on the dole.

“National accepts there are some people who will never be able to work through sickness or injury. However, we approach welfare believing that those who are able to work should be giving something back to their communities and to taxpayers who are paying their way,” says Ms Collins.


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