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Friday, March 27

National should abandon work test plans completely

The Greens welcomed news tonight that National will delay its proposed Domestic Purposes Benefit (DPB) work-testing regime for at least a year and urged the Government to go further.
“National should abandon once and for all its election promise to put work obligations on sole parents with children over the age of six,' said Green Party Social Development spokesperson Sue Bradford.
“The work-test is a punitive measure. It places even more pressure on people who are often already struggling with lone parenthood and the very low level of income support provided by the state.” The current Domestic Purposes Benefit rate starts at $263 a week.
“It makes no sense for the Government to even think of forcing parents on the DPB out to work when the unemployment rate is rising daily,” said Ms Bradford noting that unemployment rose from 3.4% to 4.6% – to approximately 105,000 – in the December quarter. It appeared National would reconsider the decision after a year, perhaps in the belief the recession might be over by late 2010, but “economic and employment forecasts suggest this belief is not based on rational analysis,” said Ms Bradford.
“National should accept that the time is over for its ideological stance on work-testing DPB recipients. “The priority for Work and Income should be to help those who register for the unemployment benefit into work, rather than harassing people on the DPB or Sickness and Invalid’s benefits.
“There are hundreds of thousands of children living in poverty in New Zealand right now. Many of them are the children of sole parents. We should do everything we can to lift their standard of living by raising benefits and the minimum wage. “This time of recession is a time for care and compassion towards sole parents, not compulsion and condemnation,' Ms Bradford said.