Rebalanced welfare system benefits all

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Rebalanced welfare- Paula Bennett.jpgI know how tough the recession has been for many families in our Indian communities.

Many of you run your own businesses and work hard to provide for your families.

Welfare will always be there to catch those who have fallen on hard times or unable to work due to illness or disability. But for some, the welfare safety net has become a trap, locking them into a life of limited income and limited choices.

That is why National is rebalancing our welfare system, focusing on work and providing more opportunities for young people.

Our ‘Future Focus Reforms’ ensure that welfare is fair, improve outcomes for beneficiaries, and support economic growth.

Obligations for DPB

There will be new part-time work obligations for people on the Domestic Purposes Benefit with a youngest child over six, and for people on a Sickness Benefit who have been medically assessed as being able to work part-time.

We are making changes to the Unemployment Benefit, and introducing more rigorous reassessments for Sickness Beneficiaries to get people back to work sooner.

‘Future Focus’ provides more support for those who need it.

We are boosting childcare options for sole parents by expanding out-of-school support for children, and providing more training support for sole parents on the DPB.

We also legislated for benefit increases in line with inflation, providing certainty to beneficiaries.

We extended our Community Max Scheme recently. This provides six-month placements for 16- to 24-year-olds on community or environmental projects.

Participants are paid at least the minimum wage and are eligible for training.

Four out of five young people who have completed Community Max have remained off a benefit, with 43% of those currently in work or training, and gaining real life skills.

More importantly, disconnected young people are engaging with their communities.

In turn, communities are encouraging young people to develop their potential.

We have invested an extra $17.4 million in Community Max this year, giving a further 1500 young people experience and skills working in the community.

Our ‘Job Ops Scheme’ provides valuable work experience for young unemployed people by subsidising positions with an employer.

The number of Jobs Ops placements was doubled from 6000 to 12,000 in Budget 2010, a boost of $26.7 million.

Many employers have been so impressed that they have taken young people on permanently. So far, 93% of those who finished their placement have stayed off benefit.

National is determined to rebalance our welfare system.

‘Future Focus,’ ‘Community Max’ and ‘Job Ops’ are helping provide the essential safety net families need, assisting people back to work, and creating real opportunities for young people. They are just some of the steps that we are taking to secure a brighter future for all New Zealanders.

Paula Bennett is Social Development Minister under National Government. The above article is exclusive to Indian Newslink ©

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