• Roger Sowry
Social Welfare

Minister of Social Welfare, Hon. Roger Sowry today announced the expansion of Income Support's successful "Compass" programme, which aims to help sole parents plan for their futures and move from benefit dependency into work.

Compass is a voluntary programme aimed specifically at domestic purposes beneficiaries and widows benefit recipients. It has been operating now for three years and is currently managing an average caseload of 10,250 customers.

"Evaluations of the programme to date show that it has resulted in more sole parents leaving benefit for work or training than can be accounted for by any other factors.

"This decision means that Income Support can further extend Compass to an average caseload of 16,000 participants nationwide.

"Income Support has reported that there is great demand for the programme throughout the country from sole parents. I expect it will not take long for the extra places to be filled," Mr Sowry said.

The cost of running the programme is being supported by net savings gained from assisting people to move from welfare into work.

"Compass has shown that with active assistance and the right support sole parents can make the most of opportunities available to make a positive difference to their lives.

"Expanding the Compass programme is a demonstration of the Government's commitment to support people in their move from welfare dependency to work and or training," said Mr Sowry.


Media queries, contact:
Marnie Woodd, Press Secretary,
phone 04 471 9365, cell 025 440 405


23 July 1997

What is Compass?

Compass is a voluntary programme offered by Income Support aimed specifically at sole parents receiving Domestic Purposes and Widows Benefits.

What is involved with Compass?

Compass involves one-to-one meetings in which the Compass coordinator and the sole parent look at options for moving from benefit dependency into employment. They discuss:

what training and skills the customer may already have,
the customer's goals for the future; and
services available in their community.
Issues such as budgeting training, childcare and other obstacles to moving into employment are also discussed. Both coordinator and customer may agree on activities to be undertaken and referrals are made to a wide range of community agencies, government services and training facilities. Regular follow-up meetings take place according to the needs of the individual customer.

How long has it been operating?

Compass was piloted in four Income Support offices - Takapuna, Gisborne, Porirua and Sydenham - from March 1994 to March 1995. Funding was provided in the 1995 Budget to extend the pilot nationwide with the exception of four control sites; retained for evaluation purposes. In May 1996 Cabinet approved continuation of Compass for a further year. Today's announcement will mean that more customers can join the Compass programme which will be available at all Income Support sites.

How successful has Compass been?

Very. Evaluations of the pilot programme shows that Compass participants are 1.57 times more likely to find part or full time employment as other sole parent benefit recipients. They are also 1.35 times more likely to leave benefit having found employment. Compass participants are also 1.59 times more likely to earn income from part-time employment.

How is the programme being funded?

The cost of running Compass is being supported by net savings gained from moving people from welfare to work. Savings generated by Compass will more than meet the cost of extending the programme.