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Time to relax benefit assistance criteria

Hon Annette King
Social Development spokesperson

7 May 2009 Media Statement

Time for Bennett to relax benefit assistance criteria

Labour is calling on the Government to relax the Work and Income criteria for special assistance, in the wake of the latest unemployment figures and growing evidence of increased hardship, says its Social Development spokesperson Annette King.

The Household Labour Force Survey released today found the number of people who are unemployed has increased by 7000 in three months and unemployment is now at its highest since 2003.

“The demand on foodbanks has grown significantly and agencies working in the field say the profile of households which are struggling has broadening significantly with new job losses and declines in part-time work for those already on benefits,” Annette King said.

“The Social Development Minister was asked earlier this year if she would relax the criteria around the access to special assistance in the wake of the recession and she refused, saying it wasn’t the time for ‘tinkering’.

“Well if it wasn’t a crisis then, what does she think it is now? Does she still thing the rising unemployment figures are just a ‘blip’ as she’s said before?”

“Paula Bennett might think that relaxing the criteria is just ‘tinkering’, but for the many struggling families out there it could make the difference as to whether there’s a proper meal on the table or not.

“The Government has been prepared to help medium and large businesses and to prop up the banks, now it should turn its attention to struggling families.

“Now is the time to give them a hand-up as well,” says Annette King.


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