Work and Income will be doing more to help sole parents into work with changes to legislation that comes into effect this month, says Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey.
The Social Security (Personal Development and Employment) Amendment Act, which comes into effect on 10 March 2003, delivers on government promises to develop a social security system that responds better to the needs of individuals and their families.
“The legislation abolishes the arbitrary work test on sole parents receiving the Domestic Purposes or Widows Benefits. Currently 19% or 21,924 are subjected to a work test requirement to seek part or full-time work because of the age of their youngest child.
“As a result of the change all people receiving the DPB, Widows or Emergency Maintenance Allowance will receive enhanced case management to help them in training and work planning for their future.
“All 118,098 in the three benefit groups will be required to work with their case manager to develop and implement a Personal Development and Employment Plan. The plan will outline personal development, training and employment goals and the action points required to reach those goals.
I asked MSD how many beneficiaries had a PDEP. By June 2009 the grand total was 35,161. Of those 24,096 were on the DPB. Only 23 percent of all DPB recipients. If you are thinking that the policy had been abandoned because of a change in government, hence the low number, you are wrong. 66 percent had been implemented between June 2007 and June 2008 and the remainder over the next 12 months.
The interesting thing is that only 17 people on the DPB who had a PDEP had had it put in place 3 or more years ago. Which may indicate that 1/ The plans do motivate people to move off a benefit or 2/ The ministry's record keeping is suspect.
If it is the first, no surprise. Around a third of people on the DPB are motivated to get off it. They would probably do so with or without the plan. It is easy for case managers to work with this group.
But what about the rest???
At the time of Maharey's press release there were 108,000 on the DPB.
Now there are .... 108,000 on the DPB.