PREAMBLE

New Zealand is a generous nation which endeavours to provide a safe healthy environment for all New Zealanders to grow up in. Part of that care is a welfare system that provides for those who simply cannot provide for themselves, or some assistance for those who need some help. Wherever possible, welfare should be a hand up and not a hand out. Welfare in New Zealand was established as a safety net, not a net of entrapment. The focus of welfare must be to empower people to take charge of their lives and transition to self provision.

SHORT POLICY SUMMARY

POLICIES

The Conservative Party is committed to:

* Recognising that people go on welfare for a number of reasons, many of which are unavoidable. We believe it is the place of a compassionate society to help people when they strike times of difficulty. However, we also believe it is the duty of a responsible society to help people transition out of these situations into long-term solutions. We believe that the benefits provided for these situations should be targeted and should cover essentials for as long as they need it (within a given time frame), on a cashless basis;

* Conservative Party would completely overhaul the DPB (Domestic Purposes Benefit), and replace it with an Isolated Parent Benefit. Extended family support would be explored before any other options were made available. All new solo parents in need of financial assistance and with no extended family support, would be required to attend a live-in facility, where they would receive a small weekly allowance. The facility would ensure that all of the child’s and parent’s needs are met, along with an intensive wrap-around program. Facility support would include training, counselling, long term contraception option, support for seeking employment, education, etc. The Isolated Parent Benefit would be available to those currently on the DPB, and those in urgent need of assistance, for up to 6 months.

* Ensuring that all people who can work for their benefit, and all those on the Job Seekers Benefit, do so. No-one should be able to receive an income without having worked for it. The Job Seekers Benefit payment would reflect the hours in training or hours worked by the recipient in the task at a rate proportional to 40 hours total for full payment.

* The soliciting of Community Organisations and local bodies to create and oversee local community work projects for beneficiaries.

* Putting a complete stop to benefits for 16 and 17 year olds (youth benefits) who are not in training or education.

* Provide education opportunities so that beneficiaries have the opportunity to receive training to assist them in finding fulfilling employment. We recognise that the time may be an issue, particularly where beneficiaries have children. We propose to work alongside educators and education providers to provide after-hours education opportunities to help beneficiaries train or retrain and transition into employment. This will include:

* Training to help beneficiaries re-enter employment, particularly where they have been out of employment for some time;

* Mentorship opportunities to help beneficiaries to find fulfilling and suitable employment;

* Work experience opportunities to enable beneficiaries to experience a number of vocational opportunities;

* Subsidised education to allow people to train or retrain for employment. This will ensure that beneficiaries will have the opportunity to gain qualifications or basic numeracy and literacy skills to create better prospects for employment;

* Put in place various incentives to encourage employers to employ beneficiaries. There appears to be a number of barriers of entry that prevent beneficiaries from entering the job market. We propose to incentivise businesses through tax incentives, apprenticeship subsidies, and temporary subsidised wage schemes to make it easier for employers to employ beneficiaries.

* Ensure that work remains worthwhile. It is our belief that benefits and the minimum wage should not be the same, and that the ability to secure a greater income should only be attained by an individual in employment. We do not believe that it is right that those on benefits should be able to earn more than those who go and work in paid employment. By restricting the maximum benefit that can be drawn upon, we ensure that there is an incentive to work;

* Lenders cannot secure loans using unemployment beneficiary income without written approval from WINZ. Companies which violate this law get fined, not the individuals.  Advantages include: protecting beneficiaries from poor financial decisions, loan sharks and themselves.This policy also protects taxpayers, and ensures that beneficiary income is not wasted on paying high interest. We would like to see maximum interest rates charged by ANY lender to be set at 15% above the OCR Per Annum.