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National makes dangerous moves on welfare

11 August 2008

National makes dangerous moves on welfare: Greens

National looks set to take a giant step backwards in its plans for beneficiaries, say the Greens.

"My fear is that John Key will see attacking beneficiaries as one way of finding support among the kind of voters who liked National's 1990s prescription for welfare," Green Party Social Development spokesperson Sue Bradford said this morning.

"While we have yet to see National's full plans on welfare, talk of workfare and of forcing all people on the DPB with children six years and older into part time work or training is alarming, to put it mildly.

"'In 2001 the Ministry of Social Development carried out an evaluation of National's DPB reforms of the late 90s, and found that:

* The financial benefits of being pushed into part time employment were limited, with part time workers on lower average rates of pay than those in full time jobs, as well as facing the additional costs of going out to work.

* Sole parents found it hard to access childcare that was accessible, affordable and high quality. They often had to take on night work.

* MSD had concerns about possible negative effects on children, including children under 14 being left home alone while their parent is out at work (see 'Evaluating the February 1999 Domestic Purposes Benefit and Widows Benefit Reforms', MSD, November 2001).

"I would like to know why National doesn't understand that looking after children on your own - especially if there are a number of them, and/or if one's children suffer from sickness or impairment - isn't actually a more than full time job in itself.

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"The Green Party thinks it is great that Work and Income can often support sole parents to access quality training and regular employment, but this should not be forced on people on pain of losing their benefit.

"Nor should DPB recipients or any other beneficiaries be forced to work in return for their benefit.

"While we do welcome Mr Key's plan to raise the amount beneficiaries can earn before they start losing their benefit from $80 to $100 a week, this is sadly far from enough to make up for the negative impacts of forced work for the dole, or of forcing all sole parents out to work or training.

"I also wonder where National will find the work for all these sole parents to do if unemployment continues to rise."

* The MSD report referred to can be accessed at weblink:


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