Minister Proposes Changes Following Public SubmissionsEmployment
Employment Minister Peter McCardle is proposing changes to the Social Security (Work Test) Amendment Bill. They concern the penalty provisions, particularly those affecting sole parents.
The planned alterations are to be presented to the Social Services select committee considering the legislation.
Mr McCardle said, "The changes stem from the public submissions made to the committee. I I said that I would consider carefully all the submissions people made, and have done so. I am determined to get the best possible legislation in place."
The changes proposed are as follows:
- LESSENING OF PENALTIES FOR SOLE PARENTS WITH CHILDREN UNDER 6
The penalty for refusing to fulfil obligations will now be a 20 per cent reduction in base benefit for the current week, down from full suspension. If there is non-compliance the following week, there will be a further 7 day suspension.
However this will not affect rights of access to other assistance such as the Accommodation Supplement and Special Benefit.
- EASING OF PENALTIES FOR SOLE PARENTS WITH CHILDREN AGED 6 - 13
For non-compliance the penalty will now be loss of half the benefit. The previous penalty was to be full suspension of benefit.
- COMMUNITY WORK NO LONGER AN OBLIGATORY OPTION FOR ALL SOLE PARENTS
Community Work will not be one of the work-test options for people with children aged 6 to 13. However they will still have to be available for suitable training or other organised activities.
- CLEAN PERIOD IMPROVED
- The length of time required to get a fresh start following a work-test failure will now be 12 months, rather than 18 months. So, after a period of complying with obligations, previous failures are disregarded.
- APPEAL PERIOD CHANGED
There will now always be a period of five working days allowed for people to respond to an incident of non-compliance before sanctions apply. Any public holiday which occurs during that time will not be counted as part of the five day notice period.