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Opposition Welfare Policy In Melt-Down

The employment and welfare policies of National and Act are in serious melt-down following proof that their 'flag ship' Community Work scheme was a complete failure at getting beneficiaries into real work, Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey told Parliament today.

A November 2000 evaluation of the scheme by the Department of Work and Income shows that beneficiaries are no better off in Community Work than if left on a benefit. The evaluation also shows that, when compared with a control group of beneficiaries not part of the scheme, those not on Community Work were more likely to get paid work that scheme participants.

Mr Maharey said the report was a major embarrassment for the National party who made Community Work the central tenet of their welfare policy, and Act who have repeatedly claimed the scheme has been a success.

"Work-for-the-dole didn't work – period. The stark reality now is that, effectively, National and Act's welfare and employment policies are in serious melt-down.

"Only last week Act's Muriel Newman trumpeted Community work as 'the most successful programme to assist the unemployed into work'. National leader Jenny Shipley has been similarly celebratory about a scheme which has now been conclusively shown to be a failure.

"The challenge for both parties is to be big enough to admit Community Work was a mistake and back the Government's sensible reforms.

"The Social Security Amendment Bill now before the House focuses on building people’s abilities and supporting them into paid employment. Sanctions will be retained for those who refuse to take up suitable paid work opportunities, but we will abolish National's bureaucratic and ineffective sanction regime for voluntary work.

"Giving unemployed New Zealanders real opportunities to earn a real wage in a real job is our promise," Steve Maharey said.

Ends

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