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Getting people into the right job

27 April 2006

Getting people into the right job, at the right time, right from the start

Comprehensive employment help will be available to all Work and Income clients regardless of their benefit type under a new case management approach launched today by Social Development and Employment Minister David Benson-Pope.

Mr Benson-Pope says the Government is committed to a modern responsive social support system that actively encourages people into work, while ensuring that those who can't work receive appropriate financial and social support. By 2007 Working for Families will be delivering $1.6 billion of tax relief and social assistance to around 350,000 families each year, ensuring that people are better off in work.

He says today's announcement builds on this by reshaping Work and Income services to provide comprehensive employment help to all clients regardless of their benefit category, so more New Zealanders are able to take advantage of the rewards offered by employment.

“All New Zealanders should have the opportunity to have quality jobs that contribute to New Zealand's economic growth and that provide stability and security for themselves and their families. Our on-going reform of the welfare system is actively supporting more people into work," said Mr Benson-Pope.

"Under Labour 117,000 fewer people are reliant on a benefit today than when we took office, a drop in the number of beneficiaries of nearly 30 percent. These results have been achieved by opening up real opportunities – not by impoverishing beneficiaries or placing them in make work schemes.

“From May 2006, all new Work and Income clients will be case managed differently to improve the focus on getting people into the right job at the right time, right from the start. The starting point will be what a person can do rather than what benefit they are entitled to.

“While there will always be a group of people for whom work is not an option, most people on benefit want to, and with the right support, are able to work. Reshaping Work and Income services to recognise and encourage this will help more people into work,” said Mr Benson-Pope.

"The pilots we ran showed that up to 20 percent of clients who get a non-unemployment related benefit (Domestic Purposes, Sickness or Invalid's Benefit) were identified as being able to work now, be it part time or full time. This showed that offering employment services primarily to unemployment benefit clients was missing a group of other clients willing and able to work, who would benefit from greater access to employment services," said Mr Benson-Pope.

Mr Benson-Pope says policy work continues on reforming the social support system to replace the seven main benefits with a simplified benefit system. The details of the new and simplified benefit structure, including its name, will be the subject of Cabinet decisions later in the year. Legislation was likely to be introduced by the end of this year, with the remaining elements being introduced in 2007.

********

Fact Sheet: New Case Management Approach

The new service approach focuses on the client and builds services around the employment outcome they can achieve.

Work and Income has been trialling the new service approach in 12 selected sites and two contact centres since May last year.

Early findings indicated that the prototype service model worked well. More than 90 percent of people voluntarily took-up the service.

Up to 20 percent of clients who would get a non-Unemployment Benefit are being identified as able to work now, be it part time or full time.

Work and Income's new service will include:

- A pre-assessment of a person's circumstance, needs and work readiness

- WRK4U seminars that provide jobseekers with information on local labour market conditions, vacancies, employment services and income support entitlements and responsibilities

- Information, planning and preparation seminars for people who want to work but are unable to do so immediately because of constraints like caring responsibilities or illness

- Access to work brokers who link jobseekers with employers through jobz4u profiles

- Better and earlier access to employment programmes including job subsidies and training

Unemployment Benefit clients already have access to many of these services and measurable change on employment outcomes has already occurred.

The major impact of the new approach will be for Domestic Purposes, Sickness and Invalid’s Benefit clients. For the first time they’ll have:

- employment as an option from initial contact

- access to information and the ability to apply for local job opportunities through Work and Income

- support in preparing to return to work if not able to return to work immediately

- access to employment services that will enhance their ability to obtain a job where it is clear that the client is at significant risk of not obtaining work without assistance.

It is expected that the new approach will result in Domestic Purposes, Sickness and Invalid’s Benefit clients having:

- shorter duration on a benefit before moving into full-time work
- increased earnings and participation in part-time work while on income support

The roll out of Work and Income's new case management approach will be across all 142 service centres and five contact centres.

Initially the new service will be offered only to new clients, with existing clients becoming involved from September this year.

ENDS

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