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Key package helps - but Kiwis deserve better

31 October 2008

Key package helps - but Greens say Kiwis deserve better

Details of John Key's transitional relief package show that National, like Labour, still falls short in terms of providing equitable assistance for all newly laid-off workers, says the Green Party.

"It is great that both National and Labour are taking the welfare of newly redundant workers seriously. However, neither go far enough," Green Party Social Development Spokesperson Sue Bradford says.

"And while National has obviously put some useful work into tidying up details subsequent to Mr Key's rather worrying statements on Monday, his proposal still has fishhooks in it.

"For example, the $100 increase in the Accommodation Supplement will simply be offset by a loss of income in Temporary Additional Support (TAS) for people who have no cash assets, meaning there will be little gain for people in this category."

In addition, the six month requirement for eligibility means that people who have shifted jobs within the last six months, or who are temporary workers will clearly miss out," Ms Bradford says.

"The CTU suggestion that Labour's proposal for a new Job Search Allowance for 13 weeks and National's plans for an extra $100 on the Accommodation Supplement and a continuation of the In Work payment for 16 weeks be combined into one scheme has merit."

However, the Green Party believes a new integrated scheme has to be fair so should apply to all laid-off workers, and be accompanied by three other key measures:

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* The universalisation of the In Work payment so that there is no discrimination on the basis of a parent's employment status.

* The abolition of the compulsory stand down period applied to all workers when they first lose their job.

* Lift base benefit levels so people have enough to live on. As beneficiaries are now worse off compared to waged workers than they were after National's 1991 benefit cuts.

"As the recession starts to bite it is imperative that the next Government takes the plight of unemployed workers seriously.

"I hope that this time around - and unlike the 1980s and 1990s - unemployed people will be treated with dignity and respect, not just in terms of the financial support made available to them, but also in the way they are treated by the Ministry of Social Development, and by Government and politicians across the board."


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