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Welfare reform sitting in limbo

Simon Bridges - National Party Leader

29 April 2019

After sitting on the Welfare Expert Advisory Group’s report for two months, the Government will report back later this week making next to no changes, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.

“National understands the Government will ignore the majority of the working group’s recommendations and instead kick the can down the road for further work, like it did with the Capital Gains Tax.

“This review cost $2.1 million, only for it to be put on the scrap heap.

“The fact the Government expected to release its response in late March suggests once again it hasn’t been able to make crucial decisions on pieces of work it commissions.

“New Zealanders will rightly be questioning what the point of this Government is when it commissions work, only to reject it because the coalition can’t agree with each other.

“The Welfare Expert Advisory Group had a wide ambit to look at the whole of the welfare system, including whether or not to remove all obligations and sanctions in line with the Labour Greens confidence and supply agreement, increase benefit rates and changes to working for families.

“Given 13,000 more people are on the benefit since the election, it didn’t need another expensive working group to tell it what to do.

“With a 31 per cent reduction in the number of sanctions being imposed on beneficiaries who do not fulfil their work or training obligations, New Zealanders will rightly be asking where is the fairness in our welfare system.

“National did extensive work in Government to make the welfare system fairer. We increased benefits above inflation for the first time in 43 years and strengthened obligations and sanctions to make sure people who were looking for work were attending job interviews and getting into training.

“It isn’t kind or compassionate to reduce incentives to work and to stop Kiwis being more aspirational and live more meaningful lives. National believes New Zealanders are better off in work and creating opportunities for them and their families.”


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