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National to extend payment cards to more young beneficiaries

Hon Paula Bennett

National Party

Social Development spokesperson

11 August 2014 Media Statement

National to extend payment cards to more young beneficiaries

A re-elected National Government would extend payment cards, money management, and intensive support and guidance to all teen parents and many 18 and 19 year old beneficiaries.

“While the numbers have been reducing, too many teenagers are still at risk of falling into the welfare trap,” says National’s Social Development spokesperson Paula Bennett.

“We want to do everything we can to ensure young people have the opportunity to get ahead.”

National introduced the Youth Service approach in 2012 for 16 and 17 year olds, and for teen parents up to 18. The service involves mentoring and advice, money management, and budgeting and parenting obligations.

These young people have a capable adult from a community-based organisation to work with them, help them pay their bills directly, and have money loaded onto a payment card for groceries and essentials. They get help to find an education or training course, or to get a job and go off the benefit.

“This approach is working well, and that’s why we are going to extend it to 19 year old sole parents, and to many other 18 and 19 year old beneficiaries who need more support or who are at risk of long-term welfare dependence.

“Many 18 and 19 year olds coming into Work and Income need more than job search assistance – they need help to get their lives on track, manage their money and pay the bills.

“National supports people in need, but expects them to do everything they can to get back on their feet when they are able”, says Mrs Bennett.

Under the new policy, Work and Income will assess all under 20s who are seeking a benefit. Self-motivated young people who are not likely to spend long on a benefit will continue their job search with the help of Work and Income, just as they do now.

Others with more complex needs will be referred to a youth service provider, where they will receive intensive support and guidance, together with budgeting support and the use of a payment card.

There will be no change for young people receiving the Supported Living Payment.

“Since coming into Government nearly six years ago, we have made significant reforms to the welfare system and we are seeing positive results,” says Mrs Bennett.

“I’m proud of what we have done and we are now seeing 1,600 people go off welfare and into work every week.

“But there is more we can do, and that’s why we’re going to extend the successful Youth Service model to take in more young people who really need a hand to get on their feet.”

The total lifetime cost of all people currently on welfare is $76.5 billion and more than 70 per cent of that is attributed to those who went on benefit as teenagers.

The National Government has already increased training and education opportunities with fees-free Youth Guarantee places for 10,000 16-19 year olds as well as 20,000 Apprenticeship Reboot places and 5,250 Trades Academy places a year.

The number of young people under 20 who are not in education, employment or training, is now the lowest it’s been since 2004.

“National is investing in young people to ensure their time in the welfare system is as brief as possible, so we help them avoid welfare dependency”, says Mrs Bennett.


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