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Competition will sharpen Welfare Providers

McGillicuddy Serious
Social policy unit
Telephone +64 4 385 6728

Thursday, 14 October 1999
Press release - no embargo

Competition will sharpen welfare providers say McGillicuddies

McGillicuddy Serious announced plans to restructure income support services
to increase provider efficiency by making them responsive to market

“A McGillicuddy government would open up the benefit provision sector to
competition”, said spokesperson Joe Rastapopoulous. “Instead of a government
run monopoly provider, any approved organisation would be able to tender to
the government to provide benefit services. Income support clients will be
able to choose a service provider appropriate to their needs and their
desired quality of service. Providers will be funded according to their
ability to attract customers.”

“There is a lot of inertia to overcome,” said Mr. Rastapopoulous, “the
existing Income Support Service has inherited the structure and work-culture
of the old paper-pushing civil service. There is a climate of complacency
amongst both staff and customers. There will be no incentive for change
until agency funding is firmly client driven.”

“Under this plan, an unemployed person may wish to choose a low rate of
benefit but a high quality of service. Alternatively the may opt for a high
benefit but little or no assistance with job seeking, no regular interviews
and low chances of finding employment. Other flexible options could include
provision for telecommuting to job centre interviews, perks such as company
vehicles and entertainment allowances, as well as little things like
providers offering decent coffee and clean toilets.”

“Sheltering welfare consumers from having to make informed choices has
created a generation of passive consumers, who do not demand a strongly
service orientated welfare sector. These changes will retain client’s within
a workplace environment, boost their self-esteem and enhance their ability
to engage in a competitive economy.”

Mr. Rastapopoulous noted that the welfare sector was a major component of
the economy and last year accounted for a significant percentage of GDP. He
said the proposals would end the days of heavy-handed government regulation
of this sector and “finally bring social welfare into the 1990s.” He said
the proposals should receive cross party support “given all the major
parties’ basic commitment to neo-liberal economic policy.”

For further information contact:
Joe Rastapopoulous Telephone 04 385 6728 or 04 384 1364
e-mail: joerastapopoulous@hotmail.com


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