• Peter McCardle
Associate Minister of Work and Income

Tomorrow, October 1, is the first anniversary of WINZ.

Reviewing the past 12 months, Associate Work and Income Minister Peter McCardle said it's been a full-on year, but WINZ is making solid progress in reaching the targets it was given, particularly in the employment area. Helping beneficiaries
find work is a key goal.

"WINZ has, for example, succeeded in helping large numbers of people move off the DPB and into jobs, cutting the projected cost of the DPB by $78 million in
the last year. A record 9,753 DPB beneficiaries went into work, and the resulting saving to taxpayers means WINZ is already paying back its setup costs," he said.

"Over the 1998/1999 year more than 30,000 unemployed people have taken part in Community Work projects ("work for the dole") and its predecessor Community
Taskforce, despite the attempt by the Labour Party to drum up a boycott. There has effectively been no boycott. Close to 5,000 organisations are taking part,
and our target in terms of people taking part has been reached.

"Early figures suggest around 30 per cent of participants are moving into paid employment as a result, but those figures are provisional.

"Community Work is succeeding, jobseekers are enthusiastic about staying active inbetween jobs, and lots of valuable work is being done for the community. It is a win/win situation all round.

"In addition there are thousands of people on other WINZ pre-employment programmes, and tens of thousands doing practical courses and activities which
will help them into work ? such as learning how to job hunt, to write a CV and to do interviews.

"The new Worktrack programme for motivating new jobseekers is performing well, with over 40 per cent of participants getting into jobs immediately.

"As in the past there is excellent work being done in partnership between WINZ and community organisations such as the Salvation Army.

"We are making progress in tackling one of the great silent problems in New Zealand: long term unemployment. Getting those people into jobs is a major focus for WINZ which, over its first year, has got jobs for some jobseekers who've been out of work more than 15 years.

"Over the next five years the projected savings to the country are $50 million through lower overheads, as offices are integrated and fewer buildings needed.
The ten year saving is estimated at $162 million. These savings are not affected by the amount spent on benefits.

"In other areas there is solid progress too. Most WINZ offices are now integrated, and the majority of staff have done their training and are now multi-skilled in both benefits and employment.

"There have undoubtedly been mistakes over the first year in some areas, but I
am convinced WINZ is on the right track and fast achieving its big-picture
goals, especially in employment," he concluded.