Community Work Numbers Growing Fast

  • Peter McCardle
Associate Minister of Social Services, Work and Income (Work and Income)

80 people joining per day

Approximately 80 people per day have started on Community Work projects around the country since the Community Wage was introduced on October 1, Associate Work and Income Minister Peter McCardle said today.

The total to date is 4,300. They are primarily the long-term unemployed.

This figure does not include the numbers in training or other employment-related activities, or on the two other major employment schemes, Community Taskforce and Taskforce Green.

"I'm told that on some Community Work project, jobseekers are choosing to turn up on more than the standard three days each week because they get so much out of it. Rather than stay at home, they prefer to be doing something active that will help them get back into the paid workforce in future."

Mr McCardle said he was very pleased at the way Community Work projects have taken off. "They're also going down well with community groups who have chosen to take unemployed people on - the sponsors.

"We now have over 2100 sponsors already using jobseekers - despite claims by Labour that there would be no support at all for the scheme.

"This includes schools, marae, Trusts, Councils and a wide range of social organisations including Wellington City Mission, the Salvation Army and many Maori groups such as Kohanga Reo. I am pleased that the Labour party's attempt to drum up a boycott has failed because the people it would have harmed are the jobseekers who need work opportunities the most.

"There is a wide range of activities being done, including environmental and cleanup work, gardening, graffiti removal, renovation, painting, administrative work, research and reading assistance in schools.

"As I predicted, the penalties for refusing to take part, or for misbehaviour, are rarely used as they are hardly ever needed. In the first two months only 81 people had their Community Wage payment reduced or suspended. That's out of a total of around 160,000 jobseekers on the Community Wage. Most people take part willingly.

"They know it is commonsense to keep active in between jobs and do constructive things that will help them back into paid job in future, be it on a work programme or learning how to job search or write an effective CV. And at best, it can transform lives," Mr McCardle said.