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6. Benefits and Allowances—Access

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Uploaded on Aug 19, 2009

6. SUE BRADFORD (Green) to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: Can she guarantee that access to benefits and allowances will not be reduced in this term of Government?

Hon PAULA BENNETT (Minister for Social Development and Employment) : Yes, our commitment is to preserve core benefits. However, access to allowances does change, as the member knows. We made changes to the training incentive allowance in the last Budget.

Sue Bradford: Which allowances, then, is the Minister planning to cut, and when?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: There are no plans at this stage to cut any of the allowances, but, as I say, they change all the time. We added the ReStart package in December last year and we made changes to training incentive allowances in the Budget. It is all quite open and upfront.

Sue Bradford: Does the Minister agree with the Prime Minister in his remarks of a couple of weeks ago that restricting the independent youth benefit is an option, despite the fact that this already is a benefit of last resort to help a very small number of 16 and 17-year-olds who need to survive without family support, and the only alternative for them is things like begging, crime, and prostitution?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: With the independent youth benefit we are looking at making sure there are the restrictions that recipients are in education, in work, or are upskilling, so those changes to the independent youth benefit are around those restrictions. A percentage of recipients are already in employment and education, so we are not cutting the benefit from them. We know that it is a benefit they need. The changes are more about insisting that they be in some sort of education, employment, or upskilling.

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