Select Committee on Work and Pensions Written Evidence

Press Release from the Social Development Minister David Benson-Pope, at the New Zealand Parliament


  Legislation to carry out the most comprehensive and positive social assistance reform since the design of New Zealand's system almost 70 years ago has been passed in Parliament today.

  Social Development Minister David Benson-Pope welcomed the third reading of the Social Security Amendment Bill, which delivers on the government's commitment to ensure all Work and Income clients get the right services, right from the start.

  "This Labour-led government is committed to a social support system that actively helps people to find suitable and sustainable employment, and where case managers' time is not spent working through unnecessarily complex benefit structures.

  "Phase One of Working New Zealand: Work Focused Support, of which the Social Security Amendment Bill is the supporting legislation, provides individualised support for Work and Income clients based on their individual needs now and in the future, rather than their benefit category.

  Clients who can work now receive enhanced Work Support services. Clients who are unable to work now but could in the future receive additional support through Work Development Support services. Those who are unable to work in the foreseeable future receive the appropriate financial support.

  "With these new services, the focus is on what a person can do rather than what they can't," said Mr Benson-Pope.

  "The Job Search Service, an intensive job support initiative targeted at people looking for work now, has been progressively rolled out through Work and Income's 147 Service Centres over the past seven months.

  "For those who are presently unable to work because of ill health, disability or caring responsibilities, Work and Income will ensure these clients are assisted to plan for their future and offered the right services that will help them achieve their goals.

  "There will always be a group of people for whom work is not an option. Work and Income will ensure these clients are receiving their full and correct entitlement and that they are linked up to services in the community that can support them.

  "These changes are about giving people the support they need. That's the focus of this Labour-led government—investing in people," said Mr Benson-Pope.

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Prepared 26 July 2007