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Greens welcome report, condemn interference

7 January 2008

Greens welcome report, condemn political interference

Green Party Social Development spokesperson Sue Bradford is welcoming the delayed publication of an important report that fell victim to political interference from the Government.

The report, 'Improving Work/Life Balance for DPB Beneficiary Sole Parent Families', investigates aspects of how Work and Income interacts with sole parents.

"I congratulate the Rotorua Peoples Advocacy Centre on having the courage to publish this report, but it is a huge pity political interference from the highest levels meant they were forced to fund publication themselves, rather than have it produced by the Families Commission, who commissioned the research in the first place.

"The former Minister of Social Development Hon David Benson-Pope embarrassed himself by personally attacking the report and its researchers in the House, and the Families Commission subsequently did not publish the report, despite its relevance to the Social Security Amendment Bill before the House at the time.

"RPAC had to wait six months before publication. Even worse, this hard pressed and ill-funded beneficiary advocacy group had to struggle to find the funding to do a job the Government should have paid for.

"I acknowledge the organisations who did put up the money for publication - the National Distribution Union, Child Poverty Action and the Northern Drivers' Charitable Trust. They understand, as the Green Party does, that research on the reality for some of the poorest families in our community should not be buried just because the Government doesn't like the results.

The Green Party supports the key findings of the research, including that: * Work involved in parenting, including voluntary and community work, needs to be formally recognised and acknowledged. * More work should be done to end the culture of negative stereotyping within Work and Income when dealing with sole parents on the DPB. * More support is needed for sole parents to go into part time rather than full time work to better meet their own and their children's needs. * Changes should be made to the PDEP (Personal Development and Employment Plan) system in order to increase its efficacy from both a beneficiary and a Work and Income perspective.

"This report is a significant contribution to the debate on whether our welfare system should be geared to 'Paid Work First' at the expense of all else or towards the real needs of beneficiaries and their families," Ms Bradford says.

"It is time the debate shifted from being a race between Labour and National to get the most sole parents, sick, injured and disabled people off benefits, to being a more realistic discussion of how the State can best support some of the poorest families in the country to lead productive and fulfilling lives, not just for the adults' sake, but most of all, for the future wellbeing of their children.

ENDS

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