LABOUR - ALLIANCE GET THEIR FACTS WRONG - McCARDLE

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

Associate Work and Income Minister Peter McCardle said the Alliance and Labour have got their facts wrong on work for the dole. The number of people this financial year who have so far taken part in community work is approximately 15,000, not the figure contained in media releases today by Labour and the Alliance.

"Their election-year posturing is simply ignoring the facts to create a good story. But that is not unusual." Mr McCardle strongly defended the community work strategy.

"Steve Maharey is selectively quoting from figures. His media release quotes numbers on projects at one time. As projects begin and end the total number alters, and what counts is the total over the whole year," he said.

"He claimed only a few more beneficiaries a year are now taking part in community work. The fact is that the number on the prototype Community Taskforce at the end of February last year was 5,348. A year later, February this year, it was 8,350 and growing. This is an increase of 50 per cent. But this is snapshot figure for one individual time, not a total for the year.

"In 1996/7 a total of 8,695 jobseekers took part. A year later we grew the numbers to over 19,000, and this year our goal is to have had around 25,000 taking part.

"Maharey selectively quotes from some of the other schemes run by Work and Income NZ. While numbers are lower on those he quoted, such as Job Plus, he clearly omits the fact that the numbers are higher on other programmes including Job Plus Training, Job Plus Maori Assets and Enterprise Allowance.

"The Alliance's Grant Gillon claims that "WINZ spends 20 thousand dollars for every extra placement.." and that there have been only 700 placements. Needless to say, this is absolute rubbish. He has got his sums wrong. He bizarrely divided the administration figure given to him by 700, leaving out the other 15,000 jobseekers who have so far participated in community work this year.

"Maharey claims no one goes onto paid work. That is nonsense. People are going into jobs constantly. But as I have stated repeatedly, community work is not aimed primarily to put people into paid work immediately. It is a first step to future employment and is aimed at keeping people active in between jobs.

"Maharey earlier claimed no-one would support community work, but he was wrong big-time. Around 3,500 thousand organisations have taken people on to do community work so far, and the number is growing. It includes schools, marae and the Salvation Army.

"My advice to Opposition critics is to go to the horses' mouth: talk to the unemployed, talk to the providers, talk to the jobseekers to see what's really happening," Mr McCardle concluded.