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Labour must confirm support for welfare-work gap

Thursday, 1 September 2005

Turner: Labour must confirm support for welfare-work gap

United Future deputy leader Judy Turner called on Labour to state that it would keep welfare-to-work incentives in the Working For Families package, after the Greens yesterday pushed for their removal.

Mrs Turner was referring to the Greens' policy which would allow beneficiaries to access the new In Work payment, removing the gap between welfare and work.

"One of the main reasons United Future supported Working For Families was because it incorporated a financial incentive to work - a key element in successful overseas programmes such as the Earned Income Tax Credit in the US," Mrs Turner said.

"The welfare-work gap is particularly important in helping sole parents overcome the welfare trap, as they have to earn proportionally higher incomes than unemployed adults without children to make work worthwhile."

She said Ministry of Social Development research shows that, after taking account of childcare costs and subsidies, single parents need to earn one-and-a-half to two times the minimum wage to receive more than they would from a benefit.

United Future is also opposed to the Greens' policy of removing income penalties for DPB recipients who can't or won't name the father of their child, instead opting to support Labour's proposed increase in the penalty.

"Having said this, the best way to ensure that the child is not punished for their parents' actions or omissions is to allow the State to file for child support on their behalf. We have pushed for that and its good to see the Government is now considering our proposal."

United Future is also opposed to the Greens' plan to restore the special benefit.

"The number special needs benefits granted increased by more than five-fold, from 13,482 in 2000 to 69,560 in 2004, and over the same period the number of people who have received more than one special benefit a year has also increased more by more five-fold, from 1499 to 7985."

"This discretionary assistance was clearly getting out of control, and once again, it tended to erode the welfare-work gap," Mrs Turner.

ENDS

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