13 Apr 2010

Government names Welfare Working Group

7:29 pm on 13 April 2010

The Government has named the Welfare Working Group that will look at ways to address long-term welfare dependency and options for funding welfare in the future.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says it is a fundamental review and could lead to an overhaul of the benefit system.

Ms Bennett says the proportion of New Zealanders receiving long-term benefits is expected to increase and the fiscal, social and economic costs of that are unsustainable.

The group will be led by former Commerce Commission chairperson Paula Rebstock and report back to the Government by the end of this year.

Other members include the head of Auckland University's School of Medicine, Des Gorman, and former ACT Party president Catherine Isaac (previously Catherine Judd).

The group will also look at how welfare should be funded, and whether there are things that can be learned from the insurance industry and ACC.

Ms Rebstock says the group will focus on reducing long-term welfare dependency, especially for those on the sickness, invalid and domestic purposes benefits.

The group will also look at overseas examples of welfare funding, including pre-funding some benefits through insurance schemes.

Ms Rebstock says it will not be recommending benefit cuts, as benefit levels are not included in the terms of reference.