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ReStart assistance package for redundant workers

Hon Paula Bennett
Minister for Social Development and Employment
Minister for Disability Issues
Minister for Youth Affairs

15 December 2008

3 PM Media Statement

ReStart assistance package for redundant workers

People hit by redundancy will get breathing space to adjust to their new situations under the Government’s ReStart package, Social Development and Employment Minister Paula Bennett said today.

“We’ve wasted no time putting ReStart in place because people need assurance that help will be there as we move into tougher, more uncertain economic times,” she said.

“ReStart provides short-term support to low to moderate income families with children, and to people with high housing costs, who have been made redundant. It is there to help people get back on their feet.”

ReStart will be available to people who have been in work for the last six months, including self-employed people and those who have changed jobs or employers during that time. The assistance will be available for 16 weeks or until they move into work.

ReStart comprises three components:

- ReCover – a payment for families with children and who are no longer eligible for the In Work Tax Credit, of $60 a week for families with up to three children and $15 a week for each extra child

- RePlace – available for those who qualify for the maximum Accommodation Supplement after they have been made redundant. RePlace increases the amount by up to $100 a week.

- ReConnect – employment and job services.

ReStart entitlement will be backdated to the election date - people made redundant between 8 November and today will have until 15 January to apply for ReStart Assistance. People made redundant after today will have 20 working days to apply from the date they are laid off. Payments will be made from 1 January, 2009.

“People made redundant may be eligible for different parts of the assistance package. For instance, people without children may be eligible for RePlace housing assistance. People looking for work can use the ReConnect assistance, which focuses on supporting people back into work,” Ms Bennett said.

She urges employers who may need to make staff redundant, or employees who have been made redundant, to call 0800 559 000 as soon as possible to find out what support can be provided.

“It’s important to remember that job numbers are still holding up pretty well, though we are entering tougher times. I know that good employers value good staff, and will do their best to keep them in work,” she said.


BACKGROUNDER

ReStart – key facts

- ReStart is available for 16 weeks or until full time work is found – 20 hours for sole parents, 30 hours for everyone else.
- People made redundant between 8 November and today will have until 15 January to apply for ReStart Assistance.
- People made redundant after today will have 20 working days from when they were laid off to apply.
- Payments will be made from 1 January 2009.
- People become eligible for payments depending on their final pay date, including their holiday pay.
- ReStart will be administered through Work and Income.
- ReStart is non-taxable – this means payments will not affect tax liabilities or receipt of family tax credits. Payments will not be treated as income for abatement of main benefits such as Unemployment Benefit or supplementary assistance such as Disability Allowance or Childcare Assistance.
- Payments will be treated as income for hardship assistance such as Temporary Additional Support and Special Benefit.
- Only one member of a family unit can receive assistance under the Package at any one time. If a second family member is made redundant, and meets the eligibility criteria, that person can defer their application until up to four weeks after their partner or spouse’s assistance finishes.
- Payments can be suspended for up to four weeks if a person takes up a short term job during their entitlement time.
- The ReStart package is intended to be in place for two years. People can apply for assistance more than once during the two year period as long as they meet the normal criteria for eligibility.

- To be eligible for ReStart, applicants must:
- Have been in the work force for at least six months before being made redundant – this could be with a different job or employer.
- Be seeking full time work.
- Be a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident, and be ordinarily resident in New Zealand when made redundant.
- If self-employed, meet the criteria to receive the Unemployment Benefit.

- People are not eligible for ReStart if they have:
- Been dismissed.
- Completed a fixed term contract.
- Ended a seasonal work contract.
- Started a job with more than 20 hours a week for a sole parent, or 30 hours a week for everyone else.


RePlace:

- Is for people who qualify for the maximum Accommodation Supplement after having been made redundant.
- Provides up to $100 on top of the maximum Accommodation Supplement. The amount the person receives will depend on the region they live in, their accommodation costs and the size of their household.
- Is reviewable during the entitlement time if a person’s accommodation circumstances change.
- Will not be available to people who receive more than $25,000 in redundancy, although they may be eligible for the Accommodation Supplement depending on their circumstances.
- Is not available for Housing New Zealand Corporation tenants.

ReCover:

- Provides payments for families with children who were eligible for the In-Work Tax Credit - $60 a week for families with one to three children, and $15 a week for each extra child.
- Remains at the same payment level for the duration people receive the package.
- Payments stop if a person returns to work of 20 hours a week for a sole parent and 30 hours a week for couples.

ReConnect:

- Provides assistance with job search and employment training, including skill assessments, help with CVs, matching people with job vacancies, and in-work support in some cases.

- For more information about ReStart go to: http://www.workandincome.govt.nz/individuals/a-z-benefits/restart.html.

See also:

ENDS


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