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Labour Would Again Abandon Long Term Unemployed

Office of the Associate Minister of SOCIAL SERVICES, WORK AND INCOME (Work and Income) Hon Peter McCardle

June 15 1999

Work for the dole defended

Labour Would Again Abandon The Long Term Unemployed

"The successful Community Work strategy is part of a response to Labour's creation of appalling numbers of long term unemployed when they were in government," Associate Work and Income Minister Peter McCardle said today.

"Under Labour during 1984 - 90, the numbers rose 600 per cent."

Since last year 25,000 people have so far taken part in Community Work projects for the long term unemployed, or those at risk of falling into that category.

"We are right on target. Labour's plan to scrap Community Work if it becomes the Government is foolish, and a backward step. It would leave the most needy out in limbo. Those 25,000 people, many of them Maori, have gained a better chance of finding employment in future because of their participation in Community Work. Without it they would be slipping further and further away from the job market, sitting passively at home doing nothing," Mr McCardle said.

"Even in a booming economy many would struggle to get any job due to their lack of recent work experience, skills or qualifications. Community Work fills that gap.

"This scheme and others like it are called "staircase programmes" for the most unskilled jobless, and are one step towards a paid job. People taking part may need to go through two or more other steps before employers will take them on. On the other hand, many do go straight into a job or training from Community Work.

"Jobs are now being created by the economy, but we have stated clearly from the start that Community Work is not aimed at producing instant paid employment, any more than it will turn winter into summer. However it will produce people who are more work-ready.

"Steve Maharey has consistently criticised Community Work without providing, or being challenged to provide, any well-thought plans for what Labour would do to deal with the long term unemployed, complete with costings. It is about time he did so," Mr McCardle said.


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