26 March 2010
Key Notes: Reforming benefits
In this issue I talk about our initiative to reform the benefits system, Future Focus. I also talk about mining, the Productivity Commission, rural broadband, my Youth Parliament choice and some of what's in my diary for the days ahead.
Key Notes - Reforming benefits
Click to watch my video on Reforming Benefits
I have a strong commitment to the safety net welfare provides. When I was young, and my father died, my mother relied on the Widows Benefit until she could get back on her feet and into a job.
This week Social Development Minister Paula Bennett and I announced our Future Focus package of benefit reforms. Our aim is to stop welfare dependency and encourage people back into work.
The welfare system is there to support people when they are most in need. But National believes every New Zealander who can work should work. We want to make sure our welfare system is fair for everyone.
That's why we are introducing new obligations for beneficiaries and more support for those who need it.
New obligations - We want DPB beneficiaries whose youngest child is over six to work at least 15 hours a week where possible. We'll also reassess sickness beneficiaries more often and encourage those who can to work part-time. And we'll make sure those on the unemployment benefit reapply after 12 months and undergo a comprehensive work assessment. For those who don't meet their obligations, we're introducing more graduated sanctions.
New support - We've increased the amount of money some beneficiaries can earn before their benefit payments are affected. We'll also increase benefits in line with inflation. And we'll support sole parents who are studying with a new study loan and provide more childcare options for sole parents.
MAXIMISING OUR MINERAL POTENTIAL
This week the Government released a discussion paper on how we can maximise the potential of New Zealand's mineral resources. It includes a proposal to allow potential access to a small amount of land which is protected by Schedule Four of the Crown Minerals Act.
Our goal is to unlock the potential of mineral resources for the benefit of all New Zealanders. A small amount of discrete mining has the potential to earn us millions of dollars, with little impact on the environment.
BOOSTING OUR ECONOMY
National is determined to lift New Zealand's economic performance. We need to grow our economy to create jobs, increase incomes, and help you and your family get ahead.
Last week we announced that we're setting up an independent Productivity Commission early next year. This is one more step in the Government's programme to lift New Zealand's economic performance. It will give us advice on improving efficiency in the public and private sectors.
BETTER BROADBAND FOR RURAL COMMUNITIES
Communications and IT Minister Steven Joyce last week announced National's plans to accelerate the rollout of broadband to rural and remote areas.
We know it's vital that businesses, schools, and families in rural communities have access to fast broadband. They are an important part of our economy and our future. We can't let them fall behind.
Under the $300 million rural broadband initiative, 97 per cent of households throughout New Zealand will be able to access broadband speeds of at least 5Mbps. And 99.7 per cent of students will be able to access broadband speeds of at least 100Mbps at school.
FROM MY DIARY
I was in my electorate yesterday to choose the Youth MP for Helensville. I'm really looking forward to having Sylvie Admore from Carmel College representing the electorate at Youth Parliament later this year.
Today I'm in the Kapiti Coast and Horowhenua with local MP Nathan Guy, and tomorrow I'll be at the opening of AUT's Manukau campus.
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