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Welfare Working Group fails the reality test

Welfare Working Group fails the reality test

The Welfare Working Group’s (WWG) relentless focus on paid work ignores the fundamental reality of the current economic situation, the Green Party said today.

“The options paper released today by the WWG is a missed opportunity to genuinely address how to help people out of poverty,” Green Party Work and Income Spokesperson Catherine Delahunty said.

“Instead, as predicted, it presents the Government with a smorgasbord of punitive measures that would punish beneficiaries and their children if they can’t find non-existent jobs.

“Many of the options outlined would introduce sanctions and requirements for beneficiaries related to finding work. This makes no sense, when just yesterday we heard from Statistics New Zealand that job creation in New Zealand in the September quarter was the lowest since 1999.

“In the current context, it makes much more sense to help people into education and training and to invest in real job creation nationwide.

“Yesterday I said the true test of the WWG’s commitment to supporting people out of poverty would be whether it was prepared to consider reintroducing a financial assistance scheme to help sole parents into higher education.

“For many sole parents, combining education with childcare can prepare them to enter the job market with new skills at the appropriate time.

“Unfortunately the WWG failed that test, and instead outlines punitive options like requiring sole parents to return to work when their youngest child is just one year old.

“There is little to be gained for parents or children from shifting parents into minimum wage jobs. Factoring in the cost of childcare, parents would be no better off financially, and children would be deprived of all-important parental care in the early years.”

Ms Delahunty said the options outlined for Sickness and Invalids’ benefits were equally discouraging.

“Many people who are incapacitated by illness or disability would love to be assisted into appropriate, flexible work, if such work existed, but in reality such work is hard to come by. A punitive approach to Sickness and Invalids’ beneficiaries could see people shoe-horned into inappropriate jobs and entrench already poor outcomes.”

Ms Delahunty was pleased that the WWG recognised the importance of focusing on at-risk young people.

“There are a very few options canvassed in this paper that might genuinely help to support young people and others out of poverty, and the Green Party will engage constructively on these points. Unfortunately these are few and far between.

“I look forward to the release of the Alternative Welfare Working Group’s reports to put some genuinely constructive options on the table,” Ms Delahunty said.

ENDS

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