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Work & Income policies give everyone a fair go

30 August 2005

Greens' Work & Income policies gives everyone a fair go

The Greens' new Income Support, and Work and Employment policies, launched today in Rotorua, includes retention of the Special Benefit and restoration of community economic development to Government.

"Everyone in this country deserves a chance at a job and enough money to live on if they can't get one, whether it's through unemployment, sole parenthood, sickness or disability," Green Party Welfare and Employment Spokesperson Sue Bradford says.

"It is time we stopped blaming beneficiaries for their situation, and instead worked for a benefit system that is both simpler and fairer than the current mess of 35-odd different entitlements.

"But as important as simplification is, the Government shouldn't be cutting corners at beneficiaries' expense to achieve it. For instance, Labour is planning to scrap the Special Benefit as part of the implementation of their Working for Families package, but the Greens argue it must be retained until general benefit levels are enough to live on or something better is put in its place.

"We also want to see the Government getting back into community economic development, the last vestiges of which were lost when the Community Employment Group was disbanded. Having said that, we are not envisaging resurrecting the CEG itself, which was far from perfect, but we are committed to seeing the community economic development function being met by Government again. Unlike Jim Anderton's regional development initiatives, which are geared towards kick-starting larger business ventures, community economic development is about grassroots employment creation that focuses on environmentally and socially useful work in areas where there is still high unemployment.

"The Green Party's Income Support and Work and Employment policies are fair and progressive. If we are part of the next Government, the Green Party will do everything we can to improve the situation for unemployed people and beneficiaries and the community groups that work to support them.

"While Labour is to be congratulated for our current low unemployment rates, there are still hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders who want a job and can't get one, or can't get the hours they need to support themselves and their family. We are a long way from the dream of full employment," Ms Bradford says.

Some other key points of the Greens' Income Support and Work and Employment policies:

* A Universal Child Benefit, like the old family benefit, which can be capitalised for a home deposit.

* Make Working for Families non-discriminatory against beneficiaries.

* Throw out Social Security Act 1964 for new law based on simplicity, sufficiency and universality.

* Ensure Work and Income gives beneficiaries their full entitlements.

* Opposes any form of forced 'work for the dole', but facilitate beneficiaries doing voluntary work.

* Commit to a full employment economy, including more pro-active job creation.

* Remove income penalties for DPB recipients who can't or won't name the father of their child.

ENDS

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