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National courts beneficiary-bashing vote

11 August 2008

National courts beneficiary-bashing vote with welfare policy

National's new welfare policy is a recipe for further harassment and despair, and little more than an updated replay of its failed 1990s attack on unemployed people and beneficiaries.

Responding to John Key's announcement this afternoon, Green Social Development Spokesperson Sue Bradford says: "National's beneficiary-bashing policy is clearly taking Labour's 'Work First' message to its next logical step.

"The new policy to work-test DPB, Invalid and Sickness beneficiaries takes no account of the fact that we do not have full employment now and are heading into recession. Where are the jobs going to come from not only for people on these benefits, but also for the unemployed?

"In his aim of adding further sanctions to the benefit system, Mr Key seems neither to know nor care that the reason beneficiaries constantly get into debt is not because they can't access budget services, but that they simply don't have enough to live on.

"National's benefit cuts of 1991 are still taking their toll - the Benefits Policy released today is only going to make things worse.

"Some of what Mr Key proposes as new policy is already happening, for example his requirement that people on the unemployment benefit have to comply with a myriad of obligations or lose the dole.

"Other proposals will add layers of harassment, potential loss of income and complexity to a benefit system which already treats people pretty harshly.

"One of the worst things about the new policy is the risk that it will plunge already vulnerable, sick or injured people into deeper physical and psychological illness.

"I fear that National's policy will only make things worse for beneficiaries and their children. It's a recipe for further poverty, family violence, mental and physical illness and crime.

"The Green Party believes we should be reforming the welfare system on the basis of greater equity and simplicity, not making things even worse for those - children and adults alike - who are already in the poorest section of the population."


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