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WINZ makes big savings/getting results - Minister

Performance Results To Date From Winz
WINZ making big savings and getting results for jobseekers - McCardle

Associate Work and Income Minister Peter McCardle today released figures on the achievements of Work and Income NZ in the employment area over the past year. "It's early days yet but WINZ is succeeding with key employment goals. It is helping the hard-to-place jobseekers into work, and that is its best achievement so far," he said.

"There has been a significant drop in the numbers on the DPB, and these people are returning to the workforce. Latest figures show that 9558 people went off the DPB and into jobs in the past year, more than in any previous recorded year.

"WINZ has been given ambitious goals, and there have been teething problems and operational issues. But, even though it is just nine months old, WINZ is on track to achieve employment results, and the figures prove that. WINZ's priority is helping the long term unemployed, and those who've been out of the job market for a long time, such as people on the DPB.

"WINZ was set up to build a closer link between benefits and work. Many newly unemployed people don't need help to find another job, whereas the long term unemployed need intense help. WINZ's role is to prevent beneficiaries who are capable of working from being condemned to a life on the benefit. The longer a person is out of a job, the harder it is to get any kind of work," he said.

Due to the flat economy, it has been a tough year for jobs, and the number of advertised vacancies fell by two and a half per cent. But despite that WINZ has made solid inroads. The results to date include:

-people moving off the DPB and into work due to the new approach of personal "case managing" - reduction in entrenched long term (over 4 years) unemployment - over 25,000 people participating in Community Work or CTF - targets for customer satisfaction, accuracy, timeliness exceeded


People Moving Off The Dpb And Into Work

Over the past year more sole parents went into work than during any other recorded year. This is a big turnaround, and is due to the new approach by WINZ of case managing each beneficiary.

Over 9 and a half thousand sole parents obtained work - this is a 16 per cent rise in the number of DPB beneficiaries going off the benefit in a year when the number of advertised vacancies fell.

DPB numbers overall fell by almost 3,000 after decades of rising steadily.

"These results are unprecedented, and this is a key outcome. For the first time we have seen a significant fall in DPB numbers. Until recently, most sole parents were largely paid a benefit and left to drift further away from future work and a career. That meant huge numbers of people who need a chance to earn a living, and are capable of working, were too often condemned to life on a benefit with little chance of getting off it," Mr McCardle said.

The DPB will cost New Zealand approximately 1.5 billion dollars this year, and there are over 110,000 people on it.

Sole parents with a child over six must now be available for part time or fulltime work if an appropriate position can be found for them. They are a priority for WINZ because the longer they stay away the harder it is to return to the job market.

Recently, WINZ got jobs for two women who had been on the DPB for over 20 years.

Long Term Unemployed Going Into Jobs

There has been a 30 per cent fall in the number of very long term unemployed under this Government.

"These people are very difficult to get into jobs, often due to their lack of skills, qualifications, work record and lowered self esteem, which is why they need to be assisted by a personal WINZ case manager," Mr McCardle said.

Over 25,000 People Doing Community Work

Well over 25,000 of the long term unemployed (or those at risk) have participated in Community Work or its predecessor, Community Taskforce, over the financial year to June 30. In doing so, WINZ met its target range of 25-30,000 participants.

"Those jobseekers are getting back on track to paid work in future, instead of falling further away from it with each month they remain without a job. Doing Community Work will not guarantee a paid job instantly, as I have said from the start, but it's a step closer," he said.

Placements are usually for around 6 months, and there are approximately 9300 people currently on Community Work projects. Around 4,500 community organisations (sponsors) are taking these jobseekers on.

"The theory behind Community Work is simple. It is far better for long term unemployed to be doing something active rather than staying at home doing nothing, and risk losing their motivation, confidence, and work habits. One of the first things employers look for in hiring staff in this employment area is recent work experience, good attitude and reliability. These can be as or more important than skills and qualifications," Mr McCardle said.

"The critics - who got great media coverage by claiming Community Work would fail - have been proved wrong," Mr McCardle said. " Equally, as I predicted from the start, it has rarely been necessary to use penalties for misbehaviour.

"Community Work is what we call a staircase measure. The jobseekers taking part are generally last in the queue for paid jobs due to their lack of skills, qualifications and recent work experience. Nevertheless, some Community Work sponsors are placing a large percentage of their participants into paid jobs, including Maori jobseekers.

"In addition there are tens of thousands of other jobseekers taking part in activities which help them get back into work, teaching essential skills such as how to job search, write CVs, and basic administrative and computer skills."

$162 MILLION SAVINGS OVER FIRST 10 YEARS

As a result of the integration of the offices and staff of the Employment Service, CEG and Income Support, big cost savings are being made.

The projected savings to the taxpayer in lower administration costs and overheads is estimated at 162 million dollars over the first ten years. Naturally, those savings increase each year into the future.

There are hundreds fewer staff, and fewer buildings, needed. The $162 million saving is not affected by any change in the number of beneficiaries over that period, nor by any changes to programme funding.

Most Performance Targets Being Exceeded

In the March quarter, WINZ was set a client satisfaction target for service delivery of 70%. Its performance was 86%.

The accuracy target was 80%. The actual performance was 90%.

The timeliness target was 70%. The actual performance was 91%.

WINZ had a target of limiting the rise in registered unemployed of more than 2 years duration to a range of 10 - 12,000. The actual figure was 6,753 since June last year.

WINZ has not yet met its target for limiting the number of Maori among the registered unemployed. The target was keeping the proportion to 27%. To date the figure is 29.43%.

The service delivery targets are defined in the Purchase Agreement between the Chief Executive and the Minister.

Jobseekers Now Getting Personalised Help

"The key to the results coming through is case managing each individual personally," Mr McCardle said.

"Beneficiaries who are capable of working now get specialised, focused help over their benefits and with their job search, from a personal case manager. This is a key innovation, and a big improvement on the past. Previously, the two Government departments dealing with benefits and job searching had little to do with each other. One hand didn't know what the other was doing. There was a lot of waste and duplication of effort, as well as duplication of rent and other office costs.

"The multi-skilling of staff is a key part of WINZ's operations, and was the reason for integrating staff of the former Employment Service and Income Support," he said.

"The aim of the employment/welfare reforms has never been to "create jobs", and it is absurd to try to criticise them for "failing to create jobs". The reforms are aimed at helping the least skilled and experienced jobseekers move closer to work. The number of new jobs is determined by the economy, which has recently going through turbulent times. Creating enough jobs for the workforce is a challenge worldwide, though we are now projecting job growth for the New Zealand economy.

"In my view Work and Income NZ is still several months from being able to harness its full potential. Staff have been largely trained in technical matters, but there is more training yet to be done before all staff are completely multi-skilled so that they know about both benefits and job seeker assistance. When they have achieved that, WINZ will produce even more remarkable results," Mr McCardle concluded.

ENDS

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