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Welfare shake-up won't create jobs - activist

Wednesday 10 Apr 2013 8:33 a.m.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett (file)

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett (file)

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The Government is being accused of screwing down wages even further, with its welfare shake-up.

Under the reforms which passed into law last night, beneficiaries now face new obligations to seek work.

The Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill is the second stage of the Government's restructuring of the welfare system.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says measures in the bill are balanced.

"This bill asks more people to look for work and those who can't find jobs won't be sanctioned," she said.

"But if you don't look for work you won't find it, and I think that's fair."

But Sarah Thompson from Auckland Action Against Poverty says it's not about getting people into jobs.

“It’s deliberately aimed at driving up competition between paid and unpaid workers who are scrambling for the same low-paid casual and insecure jobs which will be keeping wages down for business”

Ms Thompson says if the Government was serious about helping the unemployed, they'd be instigating job creation programmes.

The law will also require job seekers to be drug-free and allows benefits to be stopped for people with outstanding arrest warrants.

Labour and the Greens fought the bill to the last clause, saying it would force beneficiaries to look for jobs that don't exist and harshly penalise those who can't find employment.

NZN/RadioLIVE

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