Work and Income support pays offSocial Development
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has praised the efforts of Work and Income Case Managers with a number of recent examples illustrating the difference they are making alongside Welfare Reforms.
“The flexible and tailored assistance provided by Work and Income is making an impact and since reforms were introduced in July last year an average of 1600 people are coming off welfare and into work each week,” says Mrs Bennett.
A key driver in the Government’s Welfare Reforms is the understanding that people have complex issues that can’t be solved by a ‘cookie cutter’ approach to how assistance is provided.
“Work and Income conduct around 34,000 face-to-face interviews each week, and staff are trained to recognise what the unique barriers to working, or even looking for work are, so that they can use the tools at their disposal to help.”
Following the Welfare Reforms last year, a mother who had been on the Sole Parent Support benefit for years began talking to her Case Manager about her work obligations.
When she was asked what she wanted to do, which was work in a vineyard, her Case Manager arranged for her to visit an open day for prospective cadets in the industry.
She received some specific training to polish her interview skills and give her confidence in talking to potential employers and it paid off, with a full-time job offer and the chance to study towards a formal qualification in viticulture and build a life-long career.
A 31 year old who had been on and off the benefit since he turned 18 was helped into full-time work at Mitre 10 with a Flexi Wage job subsidy, which Work and Income offers to employers to subsidise wages for a set period of time after taking on a beneficiary.
Another sole mother who had been on benefit for close to six years had a Case Manager who took a much more work-focused approach following Welfare Reforms, and referred her to a provider contracted to provide tailored training and support for Pasifika sole parents.
After seven weeks casual work, she was successful in securing a permanent part-time role, and after talking to Work and Income found out she would be better off each week by going off benefit and taking up Working for Families assistance instead.
This mum was thrilled her employers wanted her to work for them, and has now been working for the company for over a year.
“Case Managers have a range of tools they can use to provide support that actually meets the needs of the people they work with, from recognising where confidence or writing training will make a difference, to job subsidies, the Work Bonus payment and Transition to Work grants” Mrs Bennett says.
“With nearly 15,000 fewer people on benefit compared to 12 months ago, and 17,700 fewer children living in benefit dependent homes, the flexible and focused approach Work and Income takes with each person they see is achieving life changing results for thousands of New Zealanders.”