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WINZ culture must change

Judith Collins MP
National Party Welfare Spokeswoman

12 February 2007

WINZ culture must change

"Labour's pledge to make finding work for beneficiaries the focus at Work and Income appears to be yet another empty promise, after revelations that working New Zealanders are being told they are better off on a benefit," says National Party Welfare spokeswoman, Judith Collins.

Napier businessman and Hell’s Pizza franchisee Richard Stevenson says an employee of his quit her job when a WINZ staff member told her she would earn more on a benefit.

“This is an appalling message to be sending to a New Zealander who was trying to get ahead through her own efforts.

“Our welfare system should be a safety net and the Work and Income case managers should be under no illusions as to the message they should be sending potential clients.

“Working is about more than just the amount of money you pull in with your pay-cheque. It’s about building a work history, developing good work habits and building confidence.

“The message we must be sending New Zealanders is that being in paid employment is the best possible option.

“That message needs to come from the top down.

"This episode totally flies in the face of assurances from the Social Development Minister that under his watch, Work and Income has co-opted National's 'work first' approach, where identifying entitlements is supposed to take second place to finding work.

“Social Development Minister, David Benson-Pope must give an assurance that his department is in fact following the policies that he himself is advocating.”


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