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Compassion key to Greens' unemployment support

31 October 2008

Compassion key to Greens' unemployment support package

Everyone who loses their job deserves support, Green Party Social Development Spokesperson Sue Bradford says.

"In the face of likely recession and increasing layoffs and redundancies it is vital that people receive assistance to help tide them over."

Key Green policies in this area include:

* An immediate end to all stand down periods, so that people are eligible for support from the day after they stop getting paid. This will make a huge difference, as people often plunge hugely into debt the minute their wages stop or holiday pay runs out.

* Restoring discretion into the benefit system. This was lost when the Labour Government abolished the Special Benefit. Discretion means giving Work and Income the ability to help people meet gross gaps between income and outgoings, for example when people have high mortgage or rent commitments.

* Beginning to lift base benefit levels so that people have enough to live on while out of work.

* Universalising the discriminatory 'In Work' component of Working for Families by applying it to all income-qualifying children. At the moment, if a parent becomes jobless, the family risk losing up to $3000 a year from loss of the 'In Work' payment.

"While the Green Party welcomes Labour's 13 week job seeker allowance announced yesterday as a step in the right direction, we also believe their plan discriminates against all unemployed people who have been in the workforce for less than five years, or who have had broken labour force participation, for example because of raising children," Ms Bradford says.

"Compassion, fairness, and equity are key to our policy. We call on both Labour and National to look seriously at what the Green Party is proposing, and to demonstrate their commitment to the jobless through policies that are fair, workable and sustainable over the long term.

"Ending the stand down period would be a great first step."

* The Green Party's Income Support and Work & Employment policies are available at: http://www.greens.org.nz/policy/incomesupport and http://www.greens.org.nz/policy/work

ENDS

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