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4th day of Christmas: put children at centre of welfare

EMBARGOED UNTIL 5AM, THURSDAY 9 DECEMBER 2010


On the fourth day of Christmas, let’s put children at the centre of welfare reform

On the fourth day of Christmas, the Green Party today welcomed the release of the Alternative Welfare Working Group’s (AWWG) report, and endorsed its recommendation to put children’s interests at the centre of welfare reform.

“Every child needs a secure home, food to grow healthy and strong, quality public education, and a safe environment. For children whose parents rely on a benefit, these essentials are not assured,” Green Party Work and Income Spokesperson Catherine Delahunty said.

“Any reform of the welfare system must be aimed at guaranteeing the essentials to every child so that everyone gets the best possible start in life.

“I am pleased that the AWWG’s report focuses on child poverty and suggests options for reform that put children front and centre.

“The Green Party supports the conclusion that current benefit levels do not meet the needs of beneficiaries and their children, and agrees that a focus on real job creation and flexible working conditions is a better way to support people out of poverty than a punitive focus on moving people off benefits at all costs.

“We endorse the AWWG’s suggested policy priorities of improving the health, education, and income of families with young children, promoting decent jobs at adequate wages, reducing barriers to paid employment for people with disabilities, eliminating the punitive culture at Work and Income, and making benefit levels adequate to prevent poverty.

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“There are two particular reforms we would like to see to the benefit system that would promote child wellbeing and support people out of poverty.

“These are reintroducing an allowance to support parents on the Domestic Purposes Benefit to access higher education while caring for children, and extending Working for Families tax-credits to families whose parents rely on a benefit.

“In the short term, we would reintroduce a discretionary Special Benefit so that people who are already receiving their maximum entitlement can still make ends meet.

“In the long term, we support the AWWG’s call for substantial work to be done exploring the possibility of a Universal Basic Income.

“These options are on our Christmas wish-list that would guarantee the essentials for our kids, narrow the gap between the haves and the have-nots, and help to build a strong community that's better for everyone,” Ms Delahunty said.

Each working day between now and Christmas, the Green Party is highlighting a key issue related to inequality, and presenting Green solutions to those issues.

On the 'fifth day of Christmas' tomorrow, the Green Party will examine the issue of secure housing.

ENDS

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