31 May 2011

National signals welfare reform as election issue

7:49 am on 31 May 2011

Prime Minister John Key says the National Party will campaign on welfare reform at the election, but it does not yet have a specific policy.

The Welfare Working Group released its report in February and National will base its policy on those recommendations.

They included establishing a new government agency and creating a single Jobseeker benefit.

Mr Key agrees that changes need to be made to reduce long-term dependency on benefits and there are still too many New Zealanders receiving welfare who are capable of working.

A ministerial group will go through each of the 43 recommendations and develop a comprehensive policy.

Mr Key says none of the recommendations have been ruled out, except requiring women on the Domestic Purposes Benefit to look for work 14 weeks after the birth of a second child.

The Labour Party says New Zealanders want to work, and what the Government really needs is a plan for growth, job creation and training.

Deputy leader Annette King says she fears National will use beneficiaries as an election-year whipping boy.

The election will be held on 26 November.