A Whangarei couple who are on the benefit have mixed views on Regional Development Minister Shane Jones' proposed "work-for-the-dole" scheme.

Mr Jones would take four projects to Cabinet for his Working For Your Country scheme before Christmas to give beneficiaries a chance to work for at least the minimum wage in industries such as tree planting, riparian planting and regional railway development.

The man, who does not want his name used, said he thought the scheme would encourage people - as it offered them more money.

"It gives them the incentive to get out."


The man, who previously worked in forestry, said he would take on labour-based jobs.

"Anything to do with my hands - outside work."

He felt the scheme would give beneficiaries more opportunities.

His partner questioned the sorts of jobs that would be available through the scheme.

She said simple jobs, such as sweeping concrete, can be degrading to the men who are left to feel like that is all they are worth.

She said transportation had to be considered, as many beneficiaries didn't have their licence, and that was often because they couldn't afford to get it.

The consideration for transport and living arrangements was echoed by One Double Five Community House co-ordinator Carol Peters, who also had mixed views on the scheme.

She said Northland was a big place, and if work was away from where the beneficiaries lived, these things would have to be taken into consideration.

She liked the fact people would be paid at least minimum wage because she didn't want people on the benefit being exploited.

Ms Peters wanted the jobs to be ones which could lead to proper work.

"If you've got people on the dole you want them to do work that's going to lead somewhere."

However, she said Mr Jones' tone was punitive when it came to sanctions for those who didn't take up the scheme.

Mr Jones has said he wanted welfare payments to be cut if beneficiaries refuse to take part.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said a sanctions regime already existed to cover people who were offered jobs or training and refused to take them up.

"I think that's very evil," Ms Peters said of Mr Jones' idea.

"We're talking about families with children, you're going to cut their food, their place to live."

"Cutting the benefit is one of those catalysts that lead to people being homeless."

Ms Peters felt the scheme would help Northlanders "if it is done carefully and it doesn't involve cutting benefits for people".