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New welfare legislation good for families


New welfare legislation good for families

Welfare legislation passed this evening by Parliament evening will significantly increase the support available for sole-parent and widows beneficiaries to raise their families and move into work when family responsibilities allow, says Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey.

The key provisions of the Social Security (Personal Development and Employment) Amendment Bill come into force on 10 March 2003. A new active case management system will be introduced and sole-parent beneficiaries will be required to draw up annual plans detailing the steps they will take to prepare them to re-enter the workforce when family responsibilities allow.

Steve Maharey said the new act recognises three vitally important factors which National entirely ignored in the ‘work first’ reforms it introduced during the 1990s.

“Firstly, that the vast majority of people currently receiving Widows or Domestic Purposes Benefits are highly motivated to improve their own and their children’s circumstances. They don’t need to be shoe-horned into any job no matter how unsuitable it might be in light of their family responsibilities.

“Secondly, the Labour-led government recognises that raising healthy successful children is vital nation building work. The new rules assist beneficiaries to move into paid work but being a good parent must come first.

“Finally, the new rules will provide the support beneficiaries need to move into work to stay there. The government invested $55 million in the Budget to enable Work and Income case managers to spend time with beneficiaries one-on-one goal setting and planning for the time when they are ready and able to work.

“We have also improved access to childcare and we are improving the benefit abatement system to make moving into employment more worthwhile.

“This legislation is good for families,” said Steve Maharey.

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