Many people are on the dole because of "horrible" incidents in their life and feel vulnerable when portrayed as lazy, a welfare report released today says.

Welfare Justice, established by Caritas, the Anglican Social Justice Commission and the Beneficiary Advocacy Federation of New Zealand in July, released its first report today.

Welfare Justice was established in July following the launch of the Government's Welfare Working Group as concern grew the latter would demonise beneficiaries.

Chairman Mike O'Brien said today's report aims at giving beneficiaries the opportunity to become part of the welfare reform debate.

It outlines the views and experiences of over 400 people who participated through written submission and public meetings.

"Many people who spoke or wrote to us were at pains to explain that they had not chosen to be supported by a social security benefit, but that this was a consequence of something horrible happening to their life," he said.

Beneficiaries felt information in the media were portraying them as lazy or fraudulent, which causes them anxiety and feelings of vulnerability.

People were on the dole because of circumstances such as marital relationships that had turned violent, being a solo-parent, caring for a family member with a disability or being born with a health condition that impairs opportunities for paid work, the report said.

Barriers of employment, included lack of affordable, flexible and quality childcare, the scarcity of family-friendly workplaces, and the lack work opportunities for health impaired people.

The report said a common message was that Work and Income was an intimidating institution, with one beneficiary describing it as menacing and punitive.

"In the last five years my Work and Income the environment has got increasingly menacing," a beneficiary said. "Key principles are being undermined by language and practices that are more punitive and negative that in the past."

"I have to explain my medical conditions to a different case manager every three months who is a complete stranger. It is totally humiliating."

Changes creating a shift in Work Income culture went from open plan offices to the move away from personal case managers, the report said.

Participants also said public services, such as Work and Income, health services, justice, housing, and ACC, were fragment and needed better integration.

The group's report today follows Wednesday's release of the Government's Welfare Working Group's options paper, which gave wide-ranging options focused on assessment, expectations, interventions and financial incentives all aimed at getting people back into the workforce.

The report provided options from the status-quo to overhauling changes, of which the more radical were having solo parents get part-time work from when the child is one years old; introducing a limited work-for-the-benefit programme; placing up to a five year time limit; and having it reflect an ACC-type model.

Justice Welfare's final report will be released December 9.

- NZPA