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Taranaki initiative to help beneficiaries to work

Hon David Benson-Pope
Minister for Social Development and Employment
Member of Parliament for Dunedin South

Thursday 23 March Media Statement
Taranaki initiative to help Sickness and Invalid’s beneficiaries into work

Sickness and Invalid’s Benefit clients in Taranaki will get help moving into work thanks to the launch of a new programme in the region today by Social Development and Employment Minister David Benson-Pope.

The PATHS (Providing Access To Health Solutions) programme, the first of its kind in the world, is aimed at helping recipients of the Sickness and Invalid’s Benefit into the workforce by removing, reducing or managing the health problems that are preventing them from working.

“PATHS literally provides a pathway for people coping with sickness or ill health to move into work. It’s about ensuring all New Zealanders have a stake in the future," said Mr Benson-Pope.

Mr Benson-Pope said New Zealand has seen a steep decline in the growth rate of Sickness and Invalid’s Benefits, but there is always more work to be done.

“Under the National government the Sickness and Invalid’s Benefits grew at a rate of 69 percent and 84 percent respectively. Under the Labour-led government this rate has dropped right down to 2.7 per cent in the latest year to December.”

The PATHS programme provides integrated medical services that treat both primary and secondary conditions, and that resolve both the physical and the mental effects of ill health.

All PATHS services have three core dimensions:

- health services

- community mental health, drug and alcohol, housing, education and social support services

- social assistance and employment services

“We’ve learned how essential it is to integrate all our services for people. We get the best results when we fully integrate clinical, employment, and support services, making sure we’ve covered all the bases," said Mr Benson-Pope.

“PATHS is about making sure that people who present with a health barrier to employment are linked into all the services they need – that we do everything possible to support a person who wants to work, no matter what their barriers.”

Taranaki is the sixth region in New Zealand to host the initiative.

ENDS

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