17 Sep 2012

Bill sets out second stage of welfare reforms

10:00 pm on 17 September 2012

The Government says welfare changes introduced to Parliament on Monday will set clear work expectations for people on a benefit.

The Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill will usher in the second stage of the Government's welfare changes.

If passed, the seven existing benefit categories will be replaced with three main benefits.

The largest is Jobseeker Support, which will be made up mostly of people currently on the Unemployment and Sickness benefits.

All those on Jobseeker Support will be expected to be available for full-time or part-time work, or have a temporary work exemption.

The bill introduces benefit cuts for parents on a benefit who fail to meet health and education requirements for their children.

There are also sanctions for beneficiaries with outstanding arrest warrants, and for jobseekers who avoid drug tests.

The bill will have its first reading in the next few weeks, and the changes are due to take effect from July next year.

"Underpinning these changes is our belief that by targeting the right support to the right people at the right time, we can enable people to move off welfare into work sooner," Prime Minister John Key says. "We believe those who can should work."