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Labour will provide transitional assistance

30 October 2008 Media Statement

Embargoed until delivery

Labour will provide transitional assistance through new Job Search Allowance

Labour will provide security to people affected by redundancy by introducing a new Job Search Allowance irrespective of a partner’s income, Prime Minister Helen Clark announced today.

“Our nation faces challenges as the global financial turbulence continues to affect our economy. Labour has a clear vision and plan to keep momentum in the economy through an economic stimulus package and to support people in the event of redundancies.

“Labour will introduce a new Job Search Allowance, available for up to thirteen weeks, to people who have been made redundant after at least five years in the workforce.

“The rates of payment will be the same as for the unemployment benefit, but will not be means — tested against a partner’s income.

“This is a fair and transparent way of supporting people who lose their jobs and is simple to administer.

“The new allowance will become a permanent feature of the social security system under Labour. It is not a temporary measure.

“This initiative recognises that two earner couples and families take on commitments commensurate with their combined earnings and that redundancy can cause considerable difficulty in making ends meet.

“This initiative complements others already announced and/or being planned to guide New Zealand through the international slowdown. These include:

- Introducing a retraining allowance for those made redundant after five years in the workforce. They’ll be entitled to a student allowance for a full year, with no spousal income test, for a quality course.

- A retraining allowance for those who have been in the workforce for ten years and wish to upgrade their skills or retrain in a new area

- Continuing to increase investment in skills training with announced increases in places in Modern Apprenticeships and in industry training overall.

- Reducing the use of money interest rate for under payments of provisional tax to the same level as that which applies to overpayments, to ease pressure on businesses affected by the international downturn

- Developing an economic stimulus package within forty days of re-election for release in December with plans to bring forward investment in infrastructure and other projects which are job rich.

“This is not a time for razor gangs – National Party style which set out to slash public spending and embark on privatisation of state assets and services.

“This is a time for putting in place policies consistent with Labour’s long-term vision for a more innovative economy, driven by educated and skilled people and underpinned by modern infrastructure.

“It’s also a time for ensuring that those who may be affected by redundancy are given support through a transition period during which they seek new work and/or readjust their circumstances,” Helen Clark said.

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