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Work-for-dole is bad for the social environment

Work-for-the-dole is bad for the social environment

National's surreptitiously launched work-for-the-dole scheme will cost even more than Labour is estimating, Green Social Services and long-time unemployed workers advocate Sue Bradford says.

The National Party's environment policy, released today, includes "community work schemes for long term and young unemployed". The Labour Party has estimated that such a work-for-the-dole scheme would cost $40-per-head-per-week, which if 50,000 beneficiaries were forced in, would cost $104 million a year.

"The Green Party totally opposes work-for the dole, however it's dressed up.

"We do support unemployed people being encouraged to take on properly-paid, full-time work with a positive environmental and conservation focus, but what National is proposing is forced cheap labour.

"Frankly even Labour is underestimating the cost of this disgraceful idea. It costs a lot more than $40-a-head to resource work-for-the-dole schemes, as National found out last time they tried to introduce it. Supervision and equipment always needs to be paid for and with conservation-focused programmes those are particularly costly items, and then you have to add the cost of transport as well.

"Quite apart from the ethical problems they had with it, most local bodies and community groups were not keen to administer work-for-the-dole last time because it was invariably under-resourced. They land up having to pick up the extra costs and do the unpleasant work of policing an unwilling workforce.

"Rather than revealing it in their welfare policy, which they know will be unpopular, National has slipped work-for-the-dole into their environment policy, using the benign sounding term 'community work schemes for long term and young unemployed'.

"Similarly last week, they quietly put their housing policy up on their website and used the weasel words 'equity between private rentals and state home rentals' to hide their plans to scrap income-related rents, a fact confirmed when the media confronted their housing spokesperson.

"Sneaky moves such as these are but the tip of the policy iceberg. Clearly, if elected this Saturday, National would introduce a far right 1991-style agenda," Ms Bradford says.

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