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Time to dismiss Welfare Working Group report

We need real job creation and a focus on compassion and support at this time, not an all-out attack on beneficiaries.

The Welfare Working Group's final report is so harmful it should be dismissed out of hand, the Green Party said today.

"We have heard about the report's most extreme recommendations - like sending sole parents to work when their youngest child is just 14 weeks old, and requiring young women to take long-term contraception," Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei said.

"These extreme measures highlight how radical the Welfare Working Group is. Its other recommendations are just as harmful. It should now be rejected out of hand.

"This report would condemn thousands of families to lives of abject poverty and misery.

"The earthquake in Christchurch has shown the compassionate and supportive power of communities. In that context the Welfare Working Group's report looks incredibly harsh and inappropriate."

Mrs Turei said the report effectively recommended benefit cuts, by moving all beneficiaries onto a 'jobseeker's allowance' set at the level of the unemployment benefit.

"There is no guarantee that people on the sickness, invalids' and domestic purposes benefits would continue to receive the same level of support, despite the fact that Group's terms of reference ruled out making any changes to benefit levels.

"Not only that, but people could have their benefit cut completely for so-called failure to comply with work test requirements.

"In the current economic climate, with unemployment rising and jobs in high demand, there simply are not enough jobs for people to go to. This is particularly true in the case of parents with young children and people with disabilities, who need flexible, supportive work arrangements.

"When these people get hundreds of rejection letters and are ready to give up, this report would have us cut their benefit by 25, 50, or even 100 percent.

"This is incredibly punitive, and the impact on children would be unspeakable. We would effectively be casting already vulnerable children onto the economic scrapheap.

"This report is absurd in a climate of rising unemployment and returning recession. We need real job creation and a focus on compassion and support at this time, not an all-out attack on beneficiaries," Mrs Turei said.

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