1 Jul 2009

Closure of social service centres shameful - Labour

7:13 pm on 1 July 2009

The Labour Party says the closure of 12 service centres by the Ministry of Social Development is shameful.

Earlier this week, the ministry told staff that 200 jobs are to be axed. Most of those are administrative staff and include 80 positions at Child Youth and Family.

During a snap debate in Parliament on Wednesday, Labour's deputy leader Annette King also criticised the closure of the service centres throughout New Zealand by the National-led government.

"The closure of 12 Youth Child and Family centres around New Zealand is nothing but short-sighted, foolhardy and shameful.

"That Government can spend $50 million on a bicycle lane around New Zealand, but they can't spend a few miserable dollars to keep open service centres."

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says she guarantees the recent changes will see more front-line social workers in the community.

Ms Bennett told the House on Wednesday that in 2007-08 there were more than 16,000 cases of child abuse.

"If Labour stands up and say they know these stats, why wasn't something done when they were in government and actually make a difference. Why weren't more social workers moved to the frontline to work with these people?"

Social Development Ministry chief executive Peter Hughes says the job cuts are needed to make the ministry run more effectively as its services are being placed under increasing pressure as a result of the recession.

He says the cuts will allow the ministry to create 60 to 70 jobs in frontline roles. The ministry employs almost 10,000 staff.