National has announced further steps to try to reduce benefit numbers by 25 per cent, including paying more people to move to other regions for jobs and bonus payments for those who stay in a job for a certain period of time.
Paula Bennett and Prime Minister John Key set out the new policy this morning, including a trial of incentive payments of about $1000 for beneficiaries to stay in one job for a certain period of time.
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Ms Bennett said research had shown there were "touchpoints" for people going from work back onto a benefit - at six months and again at 12-14 months.
"We would look at a payment for them that would be almost an incentive to stay in work that gets them over that hump of when they're most likely to fall out." She said it would be trialled on those who went off and on benefits regularly first.
National will also extend a current scheme to pay people about $3000 if they move to Christchurch to take a new job into other regions. About 350 beneficiaries had taken up the Christchurch offer and moved to the region, most in construction.
Ms Bennett said that could apply to regions such as Southland where unemployment was relatively low compared to other regions.
National has set aside about $15 million a year to pay for the extra measures.
Other aspects include helping young people get drivers' licences and a trial programme putting young people into community work to help build up work experience, a work ethic and skills.
It will also trial a system to allow iwi to take over administering the benefit to young Maori and ensuring they were getting the right skills and work ethic to get into work. Ms Bennett said several iwi had asked for such a programme and if implemented it would be carefully monitored.
It is also proposing offering broader child care support for sole parents.
Ms Bennett tried to pre-empt criticism that National was punitive in its approach to welfare, saying it was not cutting entitlements and welfare would always be there for those who genuinely could not get work.
She has set a new target of getting benefit numbers from 295,000 to 220,000 by 2017 - a 25 per cent drop. She is also looking for a 40 per cent drop in youth on benefits - getting 21,000 more young people off the benefit.
Ms Bennett said that was a bold target "but 53,000 young people on welfare is too many for a country with prospects like ours".
Where the parties stand - policy by policy
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