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Overcoming barriers to work

Hon Paula Bennett

Minister for Social Development

30 January 2014 Media Statement        

Overcoming barriers to work

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett is celebrating the effort of a young man who has overcome significant challenges to work.

“Twenty-four year old James has battled brain cancer and is legally blind, but none of that has dented his incredible determination to work,” says Mrs Bennett.

James has received a Supported Living Payment (previously called Invalid’s Benefit), since he was diagnosed with a brain tumour at age 18.

People on this benefit are not required to work.

“With the help of his family and friends, James found a removal company prepared to offer him 20 hours of work a week, working in the storeroom.

“After a referral from a specialist health and disability provider, Work and Income negotiated a wage subsidy with James’ employer to allow them to stretch to providing more hours.

“This determined young man is now working 30 hours a week.  I’m in awe of his motivation to work despite his many challenges and the fact that there is no requirement for him to do so.

‘I’m told his boss is really impressed with James’ attitude and motivation and plans to keep him on long-term,” says Mrs Bennett.

This employer indicated that the job subsidy has made a big difference with meeting the costs of training and support to help James on the job.

The Government supports around 7,000 people a year through wage subsidies which allow employers to take on staff who may require extra support.

There are currently more than 3,300 people on Supported Living Payment who are working part time.

Under new welfare reforms, the name of this benefit was changed and while there is a new streamlined process for new applications, the entitlement and qualification rules remained the same.

“Without question, the welfare system is there to support those in genuine need and New Zealanders with serious disabilities and terminal illnesses should be provided support without onerous paperwork.

“We also have a responsibility to support anyone on this benefit who wants to work; it is a basic right to be able to participate in work like anyone else,” says Mrs Bennett. 

Editor Note: People assessed as legally blind may continue to receive a benefit while working.

ENDS

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