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More intensive support through welfare reform

Paula Bennett
Minister for Social Development

16 May 2013

More intensive support through welfare reform

A further investment of $188.6 million for the next stage of welfare reform will ensure beneficiaries get more intensive support to move from welfare to work, Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says.

“The new investment approach introduces a new way of working with people and we’re hiring 354 extra staff to provide intensive help and support.”

The extra Work and Income staff will work with more people, more intensively, providing a new level of support.

The extra funding announced today also includes $16.4 million for the Work Bonus. This enables those on Sole Parent Support or the Supported Living Payment to retain some of their benefit for the first few weeks if they find work.

Of the 354 extra staff, 100 will go into centralised processing roles, 40 into contact centres to ensure people get the best, most efficient service and 214 will be frontline staff in Work and Income offices.

The new approach focuses on three areas:
Work Focused Case Management: intensive case management for people who can work, but are at risk of long term dependence. This includes one on one case management for people with a health condition or a disability who can work.

Work Search Support: seminars and outbound calling for people capable of doing their own job search.
General Case Management: primarily for people who are soon to start work or are preparing to work, including parents.

This new approach means Work and Income will be actively working with 41 per cent of beneficiaries.

Work and Income expects the number of people on benefits to fall by between 28,000 and 44,000 by 2017, resulting in estimated savings of between $992 million and $1.6 billion.

“Savings of $339 million over five years have already been reflected in Budget forecasts.”

Of the $188.6 million in extra investment in Budget 2013, about $174 million is new money, with the remainder from savings and reprioritisation initiatives within Vote Social Development.

This announcement builds on the $287.5 million investment in Budget 2012, which included $80 million for childcare.

“We’ve beaten expectations. Welfare reform has contributed to expenditure being $176 million lower than departmental forecasts in the 12 months to March this year.”

Welfare reforms introduced in July 2013 will:
• Reduce and simplify seven benefit types to three: Jobseeker Support, Sole Parent Support and Supported Living Payment
• Support vulnerable children by introducing obligations for beneficiaries to have their children:
o attending early childhood education from age three until starting school
o attending school, from age five or six (whenever they start school)
o enrolled in primary health care and completing core WellChild/Tamariki Ora health checks
• Require people with work obligations to take and pass a pre-employment drug test when they are referred to a job that requires them to be drug free for health and safety reasons.
• Stop or reduce benefit payments for people who do not clear their arrest warrants.
• Create a new assessment model for people with a health condition or disability that focuses on supporting them to get suitable work.
“These changes will mean we’ll go from having less than 50,000 people on the Unemployment Benefit to 129,000 on Jobseeker Support,” Mrs Bennett says.

We’ll also see innovative external case management and wrap around services for 1,000 sole parents and 1,000 people with a health condition or disability.

“These changes represent a new way of working with those in the welfare system, which equates to better support to move into work,” Mrs Bennett says.

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