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McCardle Scores "Own Goal" On WINZ

The Green Party says Associate Work and Income Minister Peter McCardle's defence of the "achievements" of WINZ is a pathetic attempt to justify appalling performance.

In the face of mounting criticism of WINZ's performance McCardle released figures yesterday on the number of sole parents who have moved off the benefit, the level of long-term unemployment, the number of people in community work, and the proportion of Maori unemployed.

However, Green Party Co-Leader Rod Donald says WINZ has failed on all counts.

"The only reason the number of sole parents on the DPB has dropped is because WINZ tightened the rules last year," Mr Donald said.

"As for the long term unemployed, there are now 51% more people who have been out of work for between two and four years than there were in March 1998.

"In an extraordinary example of doublespeak WINZ claims it has 'succeeded' in slowing the increase in the number of long term unemployed to 6753. It's an appalling indictment on a failing government department which trumpets a rise in long term unemployment of almost 7000 people because it was expecting the increase to be over 10,000.

"McCardle has also tried to defend his community work scheme, but again WINZ is failing to meet targets in this area. There were meant to be between 10,000 and 12,000 people on community work placements at any one time, but the current level is only 9300.

"Despite trying to fudge the level of Maori unemployment even the minister has had to admit that the proportion of Maori on the job seeker register has actually risen to 29.4% against a target of 27%.

"But the minister's ultimate stupidity is his claim that the creation of WINZ will save money. In the light of recent extravagances on conferences at resort hotels, refurbishing offices to fit the new brand image and sending accounts staff to a seminar to learn how to sack staff, the last thing Mr McCardle should be highlighting is projected cost savings.

"Most New Zealand taxpayers would rather WINZ got on with creating jobs for the unemployed, ensuring superannuitants had a secure retirement, and supporting sole parents so they can do a decent job raising their family, than cutting corners on service delivery," he said.

ENDS

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