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Redundancy relief project launched

Media Release (For Immediate Release)
4 June 2009


Redundancy relief project launched

Waitakere City Council has launched a groundbreaking redundancy relief initiative that provides local residents with meaningful work experience while they seek re-employment.

The Plus 4 Redundancy Relief Programme provides for four weeks of paid work experience for 23 residents who have been recently made redundant and have no entitlement to redundancy payouts.

The council has committed money out of existing project budgets to support residents referred to the programme from Work and Income. Participants receive a gross payment of $500 per week for their work and are supported to search for jobs and attend interviews during that time.

The temporary positions cover a wide range of project work, which includes anything from planting stream banks to covering for administration staff on maternity or sick leave.

Plus 4 offers a number of benefits to participants, including the ability to maintain a work routine and ethic and gain additional experience and skills. They also receive about $100 more a week than they would on a benefit (and some also qualify for supplementary financial assistance from Work and Income such as the Accommodation Supplement). The council accrues benefits from the additional temporary staffing capacity and through the intake of new talent who may not have previously considered working in local government.

“As councils, we can do roads, rates and rubbish with our eyes closed – that’s the easy part,” says Waitakere Mayor Bob Harvey. “But in the 21st century, councils have a much broader agenda that includes building capacity within their communities to make them stronger and more resilient.

“We’ve invested millions of dollars in major infrastructure projects, such as the New Lynn town centre redevelopment and Henderson film studios, that have generated thousands of local jobs and injected millions into the economy – and the ripples of these projects flow out into the community.

“But on another level there are ordinary, hard-working men and women losing their jobs through no fault of their own and this programme is a practical way of helping some of those local people through a tough time.”

Mayor Harvey has also issued a challenge to other local authorities.

“We don’t want this idea to stop in Waitakere. We’re challenging councils around the country to adopt a similar scheme,” he says.

The Minister for Social Development and Employment Paula Bennett, who is also Waitakere’s local MP, has watched the development of the programme with interest.

"The Plus 4 project is a great example of communities rallying around to help support their own in these tougher times. This initiative is a practical solution to a very real problem for a growing number of New Zealand families,” says the Minister.

ENDS

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