NZ First says Labour's new jobs scheme is a rip off of NZ First's old "Community Wage" scheme which Labour scrapped in 2001.

NZ First's social development spokesman Darroch Ball said the "Ready for Work" policy outlined by Labour at its annual conference had all the same elements as Community Wage, which NZ First introduced when in coalition with National in 1996.

"The Labour Party scrapped the Community Wage scheme in 2001 - the very same scheme that they now are calling a solution," said Ball. That scheme was also for long-term unemployed, paid the minimum wage, involved coordinators, and offered community or conservation work.

Ball said Labour's scheme had serious flaws, such as a lack of training which could lead to full-time work or further education.

"How is a young person's CV advanced by pulling weeds from a walkway for six months?

"This is an attempt at a feel-good policy which misses the objective of assisting young people in to meaningful full-time employment.

Labour's policy is for under 24-year-olds who have been on the dole for more than six months. They will be paid the minimum wage to work on community projects with Government departments, councils or charities.


At least 10,000 a year are expected to be eligible and Labour has estimated it will cost $60 million a year, based on an average four month participation rate.

The announcement has been overshadowed by a dispute over the costings after Labour initially failed to disclose the $60 million was based on four months rather than the full six months.

Labour's MP Phil Twyford then hit out at 1 News reporter Andrea Vance, accusing her of a hatchet job and unprofessional journalism for saying the numbers did not stack up to what was promised and revealing Labour was basing it on four months​.

Labour leader Andrew Little also waded in, saying the media were asking him for more detail than they expected for Government announcements. He said he stood by the numbers and the policy.