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

Associate Minister of Work and Income Peter McCardle wishes to correct inaccurate figures being used in the media about the number of people whose Community Wage has been docked in October.

The newspaper which originally published a figure has been informed that figure was wrong. Unfortunately the source for subsequent stories in other media, and political comment, has been that report.

The article stated that 85 people had their payment docked in the month since the Department of Work and Income was set up. That is not correct.

Out of a total of approximately 200,000 people on the Community Wage, 30 have had their benefit cut since the Community Wage came in on October 1.

84 people had initial steps taken against them for failing to meet their obligations, 39 subsequently complied and therefore had no cut, and no decision has been made about a further 15 others. The remaining 30 had their Community Wage cut.

The reasons for action being taken, and possible imposition of penalties, include refusal to attend an interview, leaving or performing unsatisfactorily while on a Community Work project, or non attendance at a work focus interview. The penalties are not applied arbitrarily. People are given time to comply, and beneficiaries may appeal a decision to cut their payment.

Peter McCardle said today, "The number of people whose payment has been cut is very small, a tiny percentage of the total on the Community Wage. Few people will ever be in that situation, and I expect most disputes over misbehaviour will be sorted out fairly and quickly, without penalties being needed."