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Mature debate on benefits needed

Media release
27 February 2012

Mature debate on benefits needed

A mature debate is needed on New Zealand’s benefit system, says BusinessNZ.

The Government today announced plans to reform parts of the benefit system to address problems caused by dependency.

BusinessNZ Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly says he hopes the issue can be debated without prejudice.

“Setting expectations around work – including the expectation that those who can work should do so - will do a lot to fight poverty,” Mr O’Reilly said.

“An expectation that everyone will do their best to support themselves is likely to lead to more people starting businesses, as well as more people employed.

“This is the answer to the question, ‘where are the jobs?’ In fact, the more flexible and dynamic our labour market becomes, the more jobs get created. Over time, employment opportunities increase as job seekers become more skilled and work-ready.

“The worst thing any welfare system could do is to lock people into dependency, making it harder for them to find a job in the future, yet this is the current tragedy for many on benefits.

“These are key considerations for any plans to improve New Zealand’s welfare safety net.

“Supporting people into employment with active case management, while expensive, is more compassionate and more likely to lead to success than just paying people benefits and forgetting them.

“Business will be supportive of policies that lead to more New Zealanders being able to work and contribute to the economic health of New Zealand.”

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