23 Feb 2011

Minister says welfare reforms not extreme

4:37 am on 23 February 2011

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says recommendations for reform of the welfare system are not extreme.

The Welfare Working Group released its report on Tuesday which said there should be fundamental change, and more obligations for people receiving a benefit to look for work.

It said incentives for parents to have more children while on welfare need to be addressed.

The Group has recommended that sole parents should be available for work when their youngest child is three, mothers who have another child while already on a benefit should look for work when their baby is 14 weeks old, and parents receiving welfare should have access to free contraception.

Ms Bennett says the Government won't send mothers out to work when their babies are 14 weeks old, but the other recommendations will be considered.

She says there are much better outcomes for children when families are planned, and mothers are a little bit older.

Where will jobs come from, Labour asks

The Labour Party is questioning how a target to reduce benefit numbers by 28.6% could be met.

The Welfare Working Group says a target should be set to reduce the number of people on a benefit by 100,000 over the next ten years.

At present, approximately 350,000 people are on benefits.

Labour's social policy spokesperson, Annette King, wants to know where the 100,000 jobs would come from for those people.

The Green Party says setting the target would encourage Work and Income staff to move people off benefits at all costs, rather than helping them find appropriate jobs.