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National to reform social services for Kiwis

30 October 2019

National has today released its fifth Discussion Document which focusses on social services and outlines a range of policies that will help to enable more Kiwis to gain economic independence and lead better lives, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.

“We want to build a strong safety net for New Zealanders, using evidence to pinpoint how we can best help vulnerable Kiwis out of cycles of poverty.

“People should be in the driver’s seat of their own lives, keeping more of what they earn because we know families know their own needs best.

“National’s plan for social services will focus on our transformative Social Investment approach, providing tailored, targeted solutions to the social and economic challenges Kiwis face.

“We understand that sometimes people need help to get back on their feet. We also know that help is paid for through the taxes paid by all New Zealanders – so there needs to be accountability and obligations met in return.

“The current Government lacks ambition for New Zealanders. There are over 22,000 more people on the dole than when it came into office and the social housing wait list has more than doubled, while seven of the nine child poverty indicators are worse. And all this in a time of high employment. It will be worse when the economic slowdown bites.

“Led by Social Development spokesperson Louise Upston, we’re proposing a range of positive measures to ensure our social services are well managed and provide the best opportunities for Kiwis to reach their potential.

Some of our commitments include:
• Reintroducing the Social Investment approach;
• Setting targets to ensure the number of children in benefit-dependent homes is reduced;
• Ensuring gang members and associates can’t access welfare if they’ve got illegal income;
• Partnering with Community Housing Providers to ensure local solutions to local housing challenges;
• Supporting Housing First to move people off the street and into stable housing;
• Increasing postnatal care to three days of fully-funded care in a facility of the mother’s choosing;
• Ensuring paid parental leave can be split between parents and taken together;
• Keeping superannuation at no less than 66 per cent of the average wage; and
• Developing a nationwide action plan to help communities with parenting support and resources.

We’re also proposing or asking for New Zealanders’ feedback on:
• How the welfare system can be simplified;
• Whether there should be a time limit on the dole for those under the age of 25;
• Extending the use of money management to all beneficiaries under age 20, and those up to age 25 who don’t fulfil their obligations;
• Providing intensive wraparound services for parents under 20 to ensure they achieve NCEA Level 2;
• Improving antenatal and postnatal education for parents;
• Investigating better ways to support people with dementia; and
• Improving support for foster parents and grandparents raising grandchildren.

“National believes social services should be a hand-up, not a hand-out. We’re proposing measures that respond to the diverse needs of New Zealanders, whether they’re new parents, looking for work, vulnerable children or struggling to find a place to live.

“This document is part of the biggest policy development process by an Opposition ever. The current Government has no plan to grow the economy and is failing to deliver for New Zealanders. We’re doing the work now in Opposition so we’re ready to hit the ground running in 2020.”

The discussion document can be found here.


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