Tough new welfare laws loom this year

NZ Herald Feb 10, 2010

New laws to make sole parents look for work after their youngest children turn 6 will be phased in over several years, says Social Development Minister Paula Bennett. Prime Minister John Key confirmed in Parliament yesterday that tough new welfare laws will be introduced this year, including “work and training expectations” for the 42,000 sole parents on domestic purposes benefits whose youngest children are 6 or older.

Ms Bennett said the reform bill would be tabled within two months and would go to a select committee. Most of the changes will take effect on October 1. But she said the work requirement for sole parents would take effect gradually. “We will be staging this over a period of years because we can’t handle thousands coming in at once,” she said. The proposal to make sole parents with children over 6 look for training or part-time work of at least 15 hours a week was announced in National’s election policy in 2008, but was deferred last year because of the recession.