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Welfare reforms mark the end of social contract - Jacinda Ardern

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The passage of welfare reforms through Parliament last night deals a death blow to the ‘social contract’ and moves New Zealand closer to the kind of punitive system being adopted by the Conservatives in the United Kingdom, says Labour’s Social Development Spokesperson Jacinda Ardern.

"Our social security system has always been a two way street. Those who use it are expected to look for work, while the Government focuses on job creation, training, and placing job seekers into employment through Work and Income. This Government instead appears to have declared that its primary role is to dish out sanctions.

"There has already been a dramatic increase in the use of sanctions under this Government and new legislation passed last night will see those sanction used even more. Yet Paula Bennett has no proof that this will benefit people. Instead it will simply force them to rely on other social services like the city mission at a massive cost to us all.

"Labour used sanctions less and had lower benefit rates. We focused on getting people off Government support by moving them into work, not booting them off whatever it took.

"Paula Bennett can’t tell us how a sole parent or anyone on a benefit will be more likely to get a job under these reforms. All she’s done is compare her reforms to the new work assessments in the UK which have been an unmitigated disaster. In the UK, its equivalent of Work and Income has taken on a supervisory role rather than working actively with clients to find them jobs.

"That’s something we are in serious danger of doing here. At Work and Income, staff face a ratio of 1 case worker to 155 clients and 1 to 388 for non-work obligated clients. With another 84,000 clients projected to have extra work obligations, people will no longer get the help they need.

"The Government must start fulfilling its end of the bargain, and refocus its efforts on genuinely moving people into employment.

"These reforms just tear up the idea of the social contract. It’s time we rebuilt our social security system to do what it was meant to do which is help people find the dignity of work," said Jacinda Ardern.

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