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Unemployed losing the paper war in reapplying for the benefits, says Labour
Last updated 05:00, July 10 2015

Lawrence Smith/Fairfax NZ
Labour's social development spokeswoman Carmel Sepuloni says too many beneficiaries are falling through the cracks.

Vulnerable groups of unemployed people are being lost in a sea of complicated paperwork and having their benefits cut, says Labour.

Insufficient data was also allowing the Government to boost its welfare figures, while washing its hands of a large group of people, said Labour's social development spokeswoman Carmel Sepuloni.

But Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said Work and Income could not be held responsible for people failing to reapply for their benefit.

Don Scott
Social Development Minister Anne Tolley says the ministry can't chase up every beneficiary who doesn't reapply.

Nor could it continue to pay the benefit once the deadline for yearly reapplication lapsed.

Figures released by Tolley, in response to questions from Sepuloni, showed 11,693 people had their benefit cancelled because they had not reapplied in the year ended March 31.

Of the 11,693, only 2441 (20 per cent) had their benefit cut because they obtained work. An additional 599 people exited the benefit, being categorised as full-time students, while 303 left New Zealand, 127 had a change in marital status and 31 died.

That left 8192 people (70 per cent) who had their benefits cancelled as a result of the Jobseeker application process but were not categorised in any of the main classifications.

But after media inquiries Tolley released a further clarification to the figures, saying 4916 failed to reapply, and so had their benefits revoked.

"People on Jobseeker Support must attend a reapplication appointment to complete the 52 week reapplication process on or before the expiry date of their Jobseeker Support, unless they have exceptional circumstances. If a client does not do this, their benefit will stop," Tolley said.

Sepuloni said there was a growing number of people who were not only unemployed but receiving no support.

"The whole Winz culture has made it so difficult that some people are not even reapplying, or if they are reapplying, they're having difficulty with things like paperwork.

"Winz is not keeping count of how many people have had their benefit cancelled because they didn't supply the right paperwork.

"Those are really important details. Because otherwise we have a really, really vulnerable group of people out there that have no income coming in whatsoever - that's the concern."

Sepuloni said there was no real focus on getting people into employment.

"It really is just benefit reduction for the sake of benefit reduction, and vulnerable people are being placed in more of a vulnerable position, by not having any income."

But Tolley said a certain amount of personal responsibility was required.

On March 31, 116,893 people were receiving Jobseeker Support. In the 12 months to that date, 92,556 people were required to re-apply.

But there was no data around why those who did not reapply dropped off Work and Income's radar.

"There is no reason for Work and Income to continue monitoring people who have chosen not to re-apply for a benefit. MSD does not collect data on people who are no longer Work and Income clients," Tolley said.

"If people require welfare support, it is their responsibility to get in touch and provide Work and Income with information that allows them to assess a beneficiary's need.

"Once that is complete, Work and Income can provide the assistance people are eligible for."

 - Stuff
General Discussion / Ministry of Social Development's spending 'wasteful' - Labour
« Last post by admin on 21 June, 2015, 07:40:14 PM »
Ministry of Social Development's spending 'wasteful' - Labour
Last updated 14:36, June 21 2015

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley is open to profit-making companies delivering social services.

The Ministry of Social Development is going down a "wasteful spending" track, while at the same time looking to contract out social services to profit-making companies, Labour says.

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley told TVNZ's Q+A programme the Government was revolutionising the way social services were delivered for vulnerable families and children.

Tolley was open to the idea of private operators becoming involved in more social services, similar to social bonds.

Serco, which runs private prisons in New Zealand, was looking at child services in the United Kingdom.

Tolley said if private enterprise could deliver results, she "wouldn't hesitate" to use them.

But Labour's social development spokeswoman Carmel Sepuloni said Serco had "an appalling track record."

It was "laughable" that MSD would look to Serco to manage some community services, she said.

Sepuloni said MSD was paying big salaries and forking out hundreds of thousands of dollars on management courses while at the same time looking to hand some services over to a multinational outsourcing company.

"Fifty three MSD staff are on annual salaries of over $200,000. That is more than double the number (25) who were receiving a similar amount five years ago.

"Just as bad, the department's spend on leadership workshops has climbed to an astonishing $780,601, up from a far more modest $137,155 last year."

Tolley said she was focused on the fact that $331 million was put out into communities, but the Ministry did not know whether the needs of the particular community were being met, or whether the money was making a difference to lives of people.

One of the main problems was "we don't know what works — we haven't got good evidence, we haven't got good data."

"We need good expertise at head office. How much or how little of that is really just for the chief executive, I can't reach down into that. That's not my responsibility," Tolley said on Q+A.

Having Serco lined up as a possible "investment strategy" partner highlighted double standards from the Government, Sepuloni said.

"Serco is hardly a world leader in good management. It has been accused of mismanagement, lying and charging for non-existent work in the UK and has a poor track record here where it is contracted to run Mt Eden prison which has the highest prisoner on prisoner assaults in the country."

Tolley said Serco would need to provide better child services than those currently offered.

"But yes, I would be open to that. And we'd want to trial it and make sure that it worked and that it was delivering, and they would have to have the same, maybe tighter controls, but yes, I think I would be open to it."

 - Stuff
General Discussion / Beneficiaries 'scared stiff' of Work and Income
« Last post by admin on 18 May, 2015, 03:10:03 PM »
[size="5"]Beneficiaries 'scared stiff' of Work and Income[/size]
Last updated 07:49, May 18 2015

Fairfax NZ
Minister of Social Development Anne Tolley.

New Zealand's social welfare system "dehumanises" people in need, with beneficiaries described as "scared stiff" of Work and Income case managers, new research says.

A Canterbury Community Law (CCL) investigation, which looked at access to justice for beneficiaries, said beneficiaries felt they were treated as "non-humans" by Work and Income – not even allowed access to toilets during lengthy waits at offices.

Fear was at a level where people were forgoing entitlements from Work and Income, instead going to non-government organisation's food banks, or the Mayor's Welfare Fund because of previous negative experiences, the report said.

Labour deputy leader Annette King.
Robyn Edie
Labour deputy leader Annette King.

"Beneficiaries are uniformly scared stiff of the department (Work and Income). The department's got the axe above their head . . . they've got huge power over these people, power of the most basic rights, food, clothing and shelter," said an lawyer in the report.

Lead researcher, CCL lawyer Kim Morton said past negative experiences stopped beneficiaries challenging the Ministry of Social Development if their benefit entitlements were turned down.

"This means it is really essential beneficiaries have acess to legal help. It helps to even out an uneven playing field," she said.

Case managers, members of review committees, beneficiaries, advocates and lawyers were interviewed for the research.

Morton said that people interviewed for the research said Work and Income offices gave little privacy.

"Instead they have to discuss often traumatic events in front of a long line of others, then to a different case manager each time, in an open plan office ," she said.

A beneficiary in the report said: "[T]hat whole process where you are not seen as a person . . .we're treated as non-human."

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said if the need for the toilet was "urgent"  and if a security guard or staff member were available to "accompany" the beneficiary to facilities, then they could use staff toilets.

Otherwise, they could go find public toilets, she said.

Labour deputy leader Annette King said using a toilet in a governmental department office was a "basic right".

"Being able to tell your story in private, away from the ears of strangers, is essential," she said.

The report said case managers were "overstretched".

Tolley said there was "no evidence" of this and in 2014 the Auditor-General reviewed welfare services and found most people found their claims were "resolved fairly".

She said the Government had reduced the amount of people on benefits, with an 8.6 per cent decline in Canterbury of solo parent benefits.

Morton said: "When there is a strong government goal to reduce numbers of beneficiaries, it is even more important that procedures are robust and there are fair processes for reviewing decisions."

Morton said the research showed benefits were  inadequate, leaving beneficiaries in a "state of poverty".

A solo parent receives $300.98 after tax, on a benefit, with $120 accommodation supplement.

Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment data said median rents in Christchurch were $418, with lower quartile rents at $285.

Lawyer and co-author of a Child Poverty Action Group paper on welfare, Catriona MacLennan, said benefits needed to be raised to a "liveable standard"  to counter the effects of child poverty.

"It is a very intimidating process, it is exhausting dealing with the Ministry - these are people already living in stressful circumstances," she said.

Beneficiaries are sent to budget advisor to access entitlements but told researchers they cannot advise when the benefit amount is inadequate.

King said being on a benefit was often "when people are at their lowest and most vulnerable".

"Taking away their privacy and dignity is an indictment on the Government which should be there to help people get a hand up when it's needed most," she said.

 - Stuff
General Discussion / Benefit numbers confirm NZ split into 'two nations'
« Last post by admin on 17 April, 2015, 04:46:40 PM »
Benefit numbers confirm NZ split into 'two nations'
Simon Collins
12:24 PM Friday Apr 17, 2015

The construction sector is driving growth in Auckland and Christchurch. Photo / file

New welfare benefit figures confirm that New Zealand is splitting into "two nations", with big improvements in Auckland and Christchurch but most provincial areas lagging far behind.

Benefit numbers have dropped by 6.9 per cent in Canterbury and by 6.2 per cent in Auckland in the year to March, well ahead of a national decline of 3.7 per cent.

The only other region that bettered the national average was the Bay of Plenty, with a 4 per cent drop.

Beneficiaries declined by 3 per cent in Hawke's Bay and Nelson-Tasman, but by less than 3 per cent in all other regions. In Taranaki, hit by a double whammy of lower prices for both dairy products and oil, benefit numbers have actually increased, by 1 per cent.

Regions lagging behind Auckland, Christchurch

Infometrics chief forecaster Gareth Kiernan said the same story of the regions lagging behind Auckland and Christchurch showed up in "almost any economic indicator you look at".

"This is very much something that has been developing through 2014 and is obviously likely to continue through this year as well," he said.

"To be fair, Auckland had a pretty crap time during the global financial crisis when the rest of the country was going quite well, so some of Auckland's growth in the last two years was a catch-up.

"But we are now through that process and Auckland now looks like a bit of a leading light for the country, which is a good thing because it has such a big proportion of the population."

He said Auckland's growth was being driven by immigration and the construction sector, as well as services which were a bigger share of the Auckland economy.

Construction was also driving job growth in Christchurch due to the continued rebuild after the earthquakes in 2010-11.

"Across the other areas there will be an element of slowdown in the dairy sector in particular and the drop in incomes of farmers which may just be feeding through," he said.

The global dairy trade index dropped by a further 3.6 per cent this week and is now only just above half its December 2013 peak.

Latest figures

Overall, the latest figures show that the number of working-aged people on benefits fell by just over 11,000 in the past year, from 295,320 to 284,260. This was a slightly slower rate of decline than in the previous year, when numbers dropped by almost 15,000, but this was partly because of a big jump of 27,500 in the working-age population driven by the surge in immigration.

Only 10.4 per cent of all working-age people aged 18 to 64 are now on benefits, down from 10.9 per cent last year, 11.4 per cent in 2013 and a recession peak of 12.4 per cent in 2011. The proportion of working-aged people on benefits is now lower than in all but two of the past 25 years, bettered only in 2007 (10.3 per cent) and 2008 (9.8 per cent).

The improvement in the past year was driven by a 7.2 per cent drop in sole parent benefits, down from 75,844 last March to a new 25-year low of just 70,373 as Work and Income enforces new rules requiring sole parents to seek part-time work when their youngest child turns 5 and full-time work when that child turns 14.

Numbers on jobseeker support (formerly the unemployment benefit) dropped by 4.1 per cent, from 121,953 to 116,893, the lowest since 2009.

Numbers on the supported living payment (formerly the invalid's benefit) rose by 0.9 per cent from 92,960 to 93,580, reflecting the ageing population. Faster ageing in the provinces is also a factor slowing the overall decline in benefit rolls outside Auckland and Christchurch.

Young people are gaining most from new job opportunities - benefit numbers in the 18-to-24 age group dropped by 5.6 per cent in the past year, compared with declines of 3.5 per cent for people aged 25 to 39, 5.1 per cent in the 40-54 age group and just 0.6 per cent for those aged 55 to 64, where the population is increasing rapidly as the postwar "baby boom" generation get close to retirement.

The drop in sole-parent beneficiaries means that female beneficiaries declined faster than men in the past year - down by 4.4 per cent to 165,110, while male beneficiaries declined by only 2.8 per cent to 119,150.

However Maori, who make up 47 per cent of sole-parent beneficiaries, are lagging behind other ethnic groups as the economy recovers, possibly partly because more Maori live in provincial areas than in Auckland and Christchurch. Beneficiary numbers declined by only 2.5 per cent for Maori compared with 4.7 per cent for Europeans, 4.8 per cent for Pacific people and 3.2 per cent for Asians and others.

- NZ Herald
General Discussion / Security flaws revealed after shooting at Winz
« Last post by admin on 10 February, 2015, 09:48:11 PM »
Security flaws revealed after shooting at Winz
Last updated 20:23, February 10 2015

Russell John Tully, 48, is accused of murdering two Ashburton women in the town's Work and Income office, and attempting to kill a third.

An independent review has exposed flaws with the Ministry of Social Development's (MSD) safety and security measures.

MSD chief executive Brendan Boyle today released findings from part of an independent review into the ministry's security environment after the shooting of three Work and Income employees in Ashburton on September 1.

Russell John Tully, 48, allegedly murdered employees Peg Noble and Leigh Cleveland, and seriously wounded Lindy Curtis.

The review found several deficiencies in the security model of the ministry, which employs 10,000 staff and received 2 million visits to its frontline Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ) and Child Youth and Family (CYF) offices over the past year.

Safety and security protocol had evolved over time, rather than being strategically planned, resulting in inconsistent practices and cultures across the organisation.

The ministry's approach needed to be more cohesive, the review found.

Accountability and protocol for safety had largely been left up to site-managers, with senior management taking a back seat.

Security training was included in staff inductions but follow-up and refresher training was "variable".

Security guards received mixed reviews from staff who took part in the review, and while all sites had appropriate security equipment, staff familiarity with it varied.

Reporting of incidents was poor at some sites, with a high tolerance of poor client behaviour and reluctance to use time-consuming reporting software, the review found.

"Anecdotally, serious incidents have occasionally been down-played and recorded as 'medium' to avoid calls and investigation from regional and national office."

Rob Robinson, a former New Zealand police commissioner, and Murray Jack, chairman of Deloitte New Zealand, made 12 recommendations to improve safety and security within MSD.

They included the development of a clear strategy and approach to safety and security across the whole organisation, and the creation of specific management roles focussed on security.

The ministry should consider providing services "that... create tension or volatile situations" in non-face-to-face ways, and review security guard provisions and accountability.

An appendix to the review report with more detail on how the ministry should implement the recommendations was withheld from public release as it was "security-sensitive".

Boyle said management was committed to implementing all of the recommendations within the next two years, with a review of progress in 12 months.

"There is nothing more important than the safety of our staff and clients."

Commenting on the Ashburton event, Jack and Robinson said implementing their recommendations would not prevent such events from happening again.

"That event was extreme at every level, and even if the ministry fully adopts and implements all of our recommendations . . . extreme events could still occur."

 - The Press
General Discussion / Pension crackdown on elders with outstanding warrants
« Last post by admin on 08 February, 2015, 10:41:21 AM »
Pension crackdown on elders with outstanding warrants
Last updated 05:00, February 8 2015

Fourteen people have had their state retirement pensions suspended as part of a Government crackdown to temporarily stop benefits to people with outstanding warrants.

Hundreds more have been temporarily stripped of benefits including job seekers allowance, sole-parent benefit and supported living payments or had these payments reduced.

After being contacted by a reader with an outstanding warrant for his arrest, Sunday Star-Times asked the Ministry of Social Development to reveal how often the measures had been used. Our reader, who is a Christchurch retiree, is so far only threatened with having his NZ Super suspended.

But if it is suspended, he will join a very select group of superannuitants whose state pensions have been halted for a time as a result of an outstanding arrest warrant against them.

In mid-2013, the Government gave Work and Income the power to suspend or reduce benefits payments to those with outstanding warrants. These were usually issued after failing to turn up to a court hearing or not complying with a community sentence.

It was part of the government's reshaping of the social contract between the state and the people in a number of areas, requiring individuals to abide by the law or risk losing something the Government provides to them.

In the case of people receiving NZ Super, it's often most - if not all - of their income. Other examples are the suspension of driver licences for those with unpaid fines and, in extremes, stopping people from travelling overseas until their fines are cleared.

The ministry said since the law came into effect in July 2013, 1934 benefits had been reduced or suspended by the end of 2014, though they get restarted again once the warrant has been cleared.

And the threat of having benefits stopped, which comes in a letter from Work and Income, appears to have prompted many to hand themselves in.

"Over the same period, 6146 arrest warrants for those in receipt of a benefit have been cleared, indicating people taking action such as presenting themselves at a police station for fear of having their incomes cut off, or reduced," the ministry said.

It is relatively rare for those over the age of 65 to find themselves on an outstanding warrant, with the ministry saying: "Since the law came into effect, a total of 14 superannuitants have had their payments suspended."

In that time "less than five" have had payments reduced.

Introducing the measures in July 2013, Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said: "Taxpayers overwhelmingly say they don't want to fund people to actively avoid the police and this Government agrees."

It was estimated that while there were around 15,000 with outstanding warrants at any one time, around 8000 of those were receiving a benefit.

To soften the impact on families, those with children see their benefit reduced by no more than half.

To benefits advocates, however, the move was an extension of a campaign to vilify beneficiaries, casting them as bad parents, and lawbreakers.

Advocate Kay Brereton said the number of suspensions and reductions was "interestingly low" given the political rhetoric at the time.

"That change, along with others was about painting a picture of beneficiaries that wasn't true. They were on the run from the law, they were drug users, and didn't look after their kids properly," she said.

She said many struggling New Zealanders who had outstanding warrants did not even know about them. People living itinerant lives, and people who feared to open their mail, often bagging it up to look at later when they had mustered the courage, could easily find themselves in this position.

Slower mail delivery rates were also meaning when people did get notices that their benefits were threatened, the time they had to deal with it was shorter than Parliament had intended. It also marked a "rise in state control", she said.

 - Sunday Star Times
General Discussion / NZ unemployment rises to 5.7 per cent, jobs also rise
« Last post by admin on 04 February, 2015, 07:44:07 PM »
NZ unemployment rises to 5.7 per cent, jobs also rise
Last updated 11:56, February 4 2015

New Zealand unemployment jumped to 5.7 per cent in the December quarter from 5.4 per cent in the September quarter, despite strong growth in jobs.

Job numbers were up a better than expected 1.2 per cent in the December quarter, taking annual jobs growth to a strong rate of 3.5 per cent.

Job numbers boomed in Auckland, rising by 20,000 in just three months, and the unemployment rate in the region dipped to 5.7 per cent.

In the Wellington region, job numbers grew 7000, though the unemployment rate ticked up slightly.

Economists had expected the national unemployment rate to remain steady or fall mildly to about 5.3 per cent, even as job numbers grew, because of the current migration boom adding to the workforce.

Wage inflation remains low, up less than 2 per cent a year on one measure, but with extremely low inflation, workers' purchasing power is actually getting better on average.

Although the unemployment rate rose in the December quarter, conditions in the labour market have actually remained firm, Westpac economists said, and were "consistent with the domestic economy continuing to grow at a robust pace".

Some economists had expected jobs growth of about 1 per cent for the quarter. Job numbers are rising as the economy continues to expand about 3 per cent a year.

But a robust, growing economy is also encouraging more people to join the workforce, economists say.

The participation rate jumped from 69 per cent to 69.7 per cent in the December quarter, and that saw the unemployment rate rise despite many more jobs.

"Employment didn't keep up with the record number of people entering the labour force, so even though employment growth was also strong over the quarter, the unemployment rate increased," Statistics NZ labour market and households statistics manager Diane Ramsay said.

The size of the labour force grew by 36,000 people to a record high.

Annually, the number of people employed rose 3.5 per cent in the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS), which is seen as strong jobs growth.

While Auckland and Canterbury remain key contributors to national employment growth, employment growth in Canterbury eased in the year to the December 2014 quarter compared with previous quarters.

Auckland job numbers stormed up 20,000 in the December quarter, and the regions unemplyment rate dipped from 6 per cent in September to 5.7 per cent in the December quarter.

However, in the Wellington region, the unemployment rate rose slightly from 5.6 per cent to 5.7 per cent in the December quarter. That reflects many more people joining the workforce with an extremely high participation rate of more than 72 per cent, well above the national average.

While Auckland and Canterbury remain key contributors to national employment growth, employment growth in Canterbury eased in the year to the December 2014 quarter.

Bank of New Zealand economists had expected the unemployment rate to remain steady at 5.4 per cent, because of the surge in migration last year.

In other  data also out today, annual wage inflation as measured by the labour cost index (LCI) increased 1.8 per cent, compared with annual consumers price inflation of 0.8 per cent.

The closely watched private sector LCI was also up 1.8 per cent, when some economists had expected it to rise to 2 per cent a year. That indicates that wage inflation remains low, with little in the way of cost of living adjustments for workers.

However, because inflation was extremely low, the spending power of workers is rising, even with modest wage rises.

Inflation is low in part because of the big dive in petrol prices, which fell about 50 cents a litre between October and late January. In a reversal this week, petrol prices rose 7 cents a litre because of a falling New Zealand dollar and a lift in world commodity prices.

Even so, inflation is likely to be around 10-year lows this year.

Average hourly earnings in the more volatile Quarterly Employment Survey rose 2.6 per cent over the year.

 - The Dominion Post
Labour leader Andrew Little targets unemployment in state of nation speech
Last updated 09:16, January 28 2015

Peter Meecham
LET'S TALK: Andrew Little speaks to audience members ahead of his state of the nation speech.

Andrew Little has made a pitch to small business and promised a Labour government will deliver the lowest unemployment in the developed world.

In a state of the nation speech in Auckland this morning, the Labour leader said the key to New Zealanders' futures was jobs.

"The next Labour government will make sure that New Zealand has the lowest rate of unemployment in the developed world," Little said.

"That's the single best thing we can do to ensure New Zealanders have wealth, security and dignity.

"The Labour I lead is about jobs. Good jobs. Skilled jobs. Well-paid jobs. Ten years ago New Zealand had the lowest unemployment rate in the developed world. Today we've slipped to ninth."

On present unemployment rates getting New Zealand to the lowest jobless rate in the world would commit the party to lowering unemployment to less than 3.5 per cent from the present 5.4 per cent.

At that level New Zealand would heading off South Korea, Japan and Norway which all have rates of between 3.4 per cent and 3.6 per cent.


* 10 things to know for Little's speech
* Key to outline housing plan

New Zealand's unemployment rate rate in 2004 was briefly below 4 per cent putting it ahead of the next-lowest, South Korea.

Speaking to an invited audience of business, union and non-government representatives at the Cube in the ASB building on Auckland's waterfront, Little also promised a big boost for small business as the engine room of economic growth - a theme he has been eager to push as he moves to soften his reputation as a tough union boss.

Little said too many jobs were part-time, low paid, or under arrangements without protection such as zero-hour contracts, which Labour would get rid of.

But Labour would offer small businesses more support, less form-filling, more research and development tax breaks, and more training.

It would also look at ways to have major funds such as the NZ Super Fund provide capital to support local start-ups.

"With Labour it will be easier than ever to start a business and make it succeed," he said.

His speech drew on the country's history of pioneering social progress and its founding vision of a fairer society.

He said the country inherited from those who fought at Gallipoli had been the envy of the world, and that sacrifice needed to be honoured by defending freedoms enjoyed today.

"This lies at the heart of the Kiwi tradition of a fair go and a fair share," Little said.

Maori settlers and those escaping class-ridden Britain were part of a legacy that pioneered pensions, social security, public health, state housing, education, and a fair industrial-relations system.

New Zealand also led the world on women's right to vote and with the stand against nuclear weapons.

"We pioneered," he said.

"New Zealand pioneered again and again."

The party's four priorities this year would be harnessing the power of small businesses, housing affordability, breaking Auckland's transport gridlock, and developing a manufacturing sector fit for this century.

Little said that as a union leader he was always conscious wealth had to be created before it could be shared.

"We need to do what's right for business so we can do what's right for workers and their families, and to keep skills in New Zealand."

His speech did not contain any detailed policy, instead focusing on issues Labour would target including child poverty and reduced inequality.

He said there were 20,000 more children living below the poverty line than when the National Government took office.

"Inequality robs people of opportunities. It stunts potential. It's wrong and it's not the Kiwi way," he said.

Breaking that cycle of inequality would be his priority as Labour leader.

Little said that as a union leader he had seen how good management and a well-led workforce could work together, citing talks with Air New Zealand and Fonterra where jobs were saved or made more productive.

He would bring a sense of "shared purpose about work".

The choice was between a "small-beer government or a government prepared to face up to the long term challenges".

He said "tinkering" with the Resource Management Act - one of the National Government's first reform plans outlined this year - was an example of small-beer government when more houses needed to be built.

In a swipe at  Prime Minister John Key's expected focus on social housing in his own speech today, Little said the Government had gone back on the idea of a good home to live in for everyone with its "secret plans to sell off our state houses".

 - Stuff
General Discussion / Young and unskilled jobseekers stuck on benefits
« Last post by admin on 27 January, 2015, 01:56:22 PM »
Young and unskilled jobseekers stuck on benefits
Last updated 12:00, January 27 2015

Terry Karatau
TRAP FOR YOUNG PLAYERS: Young and unskilled workers are finding it harder to get work.

Almost half of Palmerston North people on the job seekers benefit have been on it for more than a year.

In Palmerston North, 1222 people have been on job seekers support for more than a year, according to statistics recently released by the Ministry of Social Development.

There were 1245 who had been in the system for 12 months or less.

The statistics further showed 722 of those looking for work were between the ages of 18 and 24.

Palmerston North-based youth transition service Start aims to help youth under the age of 18 gain qualifications or education.

Manager Peter Butler said there had been a decline in unskilled work opportunities, so it was important for youth to re-engage with education.

"Higher skill sets are required.

"The labour or factory line jobs are not there.

"You can't walk into a job with minimal or no experience.

"Maybe 20 years ago you could leave school at 15 and go into an apprenticeship . . . but now, there's nothing there," Butler said.

Work and Income central regional commissioner Katie McRedmond said work-focused case management and contracted training programmes addressed local skill shortages.

Wage subsidy assistance under the job streams programme also complemented their vacancy matching service, she said.

"We are promoting these things along with Working for Families, childcare assistance, Work Bonus and other programmes to a wider range of clients, which I think will result in more people moving off benefits more quickly than they would have previously," McRedmond said.

Single mother of two Denise Arrow, 47, is on supported living payments but is still looking for work.

With an autistic daughter, she relied on what she was paid through the scheme, which was just enough to get by on.

She said they struggled sometimes, as they had nothing saved for emergencies.

As her daughter became more independent, she had begun applying for extra work but was unable to find anything in the past 12 months.

She said she had applied for at least six jobs in hospitality but lost out because of a lack of experience.

"They want people with experience but won't give you a chance . . . I can't win sometimes."

To make herself more attractive to employers she is volunteering at Arohanui Hospice's laundry and kitchen.

"Volunteer work proves that I want to get out to work," she said.

Arrow said the hospice thought she worked well and she was earning a fair bit of experience.

Youth One Stop Shop chief executive Trissel Eriksen agreed it was important that young people engaged in education or sought qualifications.

"I do think there is some kind of work to do around the apprenticeship-style work . . . A lot of local businesses already do that but it takes a bit more time, energy and focus."

And youth expectations for work may be too high.

"They kind of want a job at $18 an hour . . . Kind of like: give me the Rolls-Royce but you need to start with a Mini," Eriksen said.

 - Manawatu Standard
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