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Govt Told Punishing Sole Parents Not The Answer

Wellington People’s Resource Centre

Press Statement 27 November 2001

Govt told punishing sole parents not the answer

Beneficiary advocates welcome certain findings of the government's recent evaluation report on the DPB and Widow's Benefit reforms in 1999.

At their national conference last weekend, the Advocates' National Network welcomed the acknowledgement in the report that sole parents were found to be a "highly work motivated group" and that job-search success among sole parents occurred independent of Work & Income.

Beneficiary Advocates' spokesperson Tina McIvor commented that these findings simply supported what advocates had highlighted at the time of the reforms. "The coercive approach of the previous government towards placing sole parents in work was clearly unnecessary. Sole parents have the motivation to look for work and don't need the added stress of being sanctioned if an employment plan is not completed."

The Advocates' Conference questioned the need for Mr Marharey to retain coercive measures in his recent proposal to change the administration of the DPB and Widow's benefits. It is understood that all sole parents will be required to formulate an employment plan, regardless of the age of their children. Those who refuse to participate will face a sanction, including possible suspension or reduction of their benefit payment.

Ms McIvor said "It is high time the Labour/Alliance government stopped listening to the 'welfare dependency' rhetoric of the mid-nineties when the work-test with sanctions were first introduced. After considering the findings of this report, recently released by the Department of Labour, an employment plan for sole parents that is entirely voluntary has become more appropriate."

Ms McIvor asks "Why is Mr Marharey focusing on providing increased case management and work plans to push sole parents into work when there is a significant pool of unemployment beneficiaries who would be a better focus for this policy?"

National spokespeople: Tina McIvor 04 385 8596 Ivan Sowry 025 274 4724

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