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Mayors express concern about fate of CEG

2000 web siteMayors from around the country have joined in the chorus of disapproval at Work and Income New Zealand's plans to restructure the operations of the Community Employment Group.

Labour spokesperson on employment Steve Maharey wrote to mayors last month to draw their attention to WINZ's review of the CEG.

"The CEG has achieved positive outcomes and is widely supported by communities and local bodies. Its intent is to develop regional programmes that will lead to economic and job growth but the fear is that WINZ, using the review as an excuse, will completely absorb the CEG, farm out its responsibilities to regional commissioners, and the group's focus will be lost," Mr Maharey said.

"It is clear that WINZ is proposing changes which will see the end of CEG as a stand alone organisation focused on community economic development. It appears CEG will be merged into WINZ and focused on helping individuals find community wage work.

"Such a change would be very short-sighted as community development has a significant impact on long-term development within regions.

Mr Maharey said the process undertaken by WINZ to review the CEG was inadequate.

"There was never enough time for the wide range of communities and local bodies who have benefited or might benefit from the work of the CEG to be fully involved in consultation."

Mr Maharey has received responses from over a dozen mayors - the majority writing in support of the CEG and its work.

"It is time for WINZ to listen to the communities it is there to support. Its track record of managing change has been disastrous, so why risk a programme that is accepted as having positive benefits?"

"WINZ is due to release details of the future shape of the CEG within days. These letters should serve to remind the organisation that the current structure has worked well, and that change should only be considered if improved outcomes are guaranteed. I am far from convinced that this will be the case," Mr Maharey said.

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