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Welfare reforms shambolic

Social Development Spokesperson
Welfare reforms shambolic

While the government’s youth services reforms might have been given the green light in Parliament today, their hasty introduction has generated a host of problems for those working in the sector and the young people they are supposed to be helping, Labour’s spokesperson for Social Development Jacinda Ardern says.

“Paula Bennett made the call last year to dump our existing network of Youth Transition Services and replace them with a new model, one which will cost more and serve fewer young people.

“The Minister has made it very clear she is only interested in targeting the 14,000 16 and 17 year olds not in education, training or work (Neets), leaving a large number of the over 80,000 young people in that category without support.

“Her new targeted services - which she argues are ‘keenly focused’ on youth - have had a shambolic start, with her haste to get them up and running seeing their roll out delayed yet again.

“While the Minister tried to argue in the House today that services can just start operating, providers disagree, and rightly so. Some have no contract, no mandate, no information on the young people they’re meant to work with, and no legislation covering them on privacy issues. Meanwhile the delay means hundreds more kids have left school and dropped off the radar,” Jacinda Ardern said.

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“These new youth service providers haven’t just been told to move young people into work, training or further education. They have also been told that it’s their job to administer any benefit or emergency needs that young people may have, and that under no circumstances can they be referred to Work and Income.

“This is the first time external providers will be managing such a significant part of our social security system. Most of them will have no previous experience working on such issues, and some are covering an area equivalent to half of the South Island.”

“The Minister has admitted that these welfare reforms will cost more than they save, but the costs aren’t just material.

“Changes in this area needed to reach all the young people whose potential is currently being wasted, not just a few, and they need to be based on getting the best outcomes, not just getting people off the books,” said Jacinda Ardern.

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