Key: Mums of one-year-olds better off working

KATE CHAPMAN AND DANYA LEVY
Last updated 05:00 29/02/2012
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Plenty of women go back to work when their baby is a year old and it makes financial sense to do so, Prime Minister John Key says.

He was responding to claims that the first round of welfare reforms announced on Monday amounted to beneficiary bashing and were unrealistic.

Under the changes, solo parents on a benefit would be required to look for part-time work when their youngest child is five and fulltime work when that child turns 14.

Controversially, mothers who have an additional baby while already on a benefit will be required to look for work after 12 months.

Last year 4000 babies were born to mothers already on the domestic purposes benefit.

Mr Key said yesterday that a mother who returned to work would be $10,000 a year better off than she would be on the DPB.

That's because she would earn a minimum of $22,204 under the family tax credit system as well as a further $3120 for in-work tax credits.

Compared with the $15,000 she would get in benefit payments, her household would be "considerably better off".

The Government was spending money on childcare and other costs to help women prepare for work, he told Parliament.

"I personally think it is actually helping those families to give them the assistance, to give them the training, to give them the childcare facilities, and to actually make sure that they get an opportunity to fill their lives."

It was unfair to suggest parents who went to work were abandoning their children, Mr Key said.

"A large proportion of New Zealand women with children do go to work, and they go to work and rely on the childcare facilities that are in place right across the country.

"What they are doing is trying to support their home."

Mr Key said there were "plenty of jobs out there for people if they look really hard".

"Now obviously, not for every single person, but people do find work, and the economy is constantly creating new jobs."

The Household Labour Force Survey, produced by Statistics New Zealand, found 62,000 jobs were created over the past two years and the ANZ Bank job report for January showed jobs were on offer in every region of the country, with 30,000 positions available, he said.

"If you look at Work and Income, they receive 1300 to 1500 vacancies a week; on average they have 3500 jobs on offer."

However, Labour's social development spokeswoman, Jacinda Ardern, said National Employment Indicators made public yesterday showed there were almost 40,000 fewer jobs than when National took office in 2008, and fewer jobs than when Mr Key held his job summit in 2009.

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"More people attended the job summit than have got jobs out of it."

NZ First leader Winston Peters said the Government's forecast in its May 2010 Budget said there would be 170,000 new jobs by 2015, meaning 34,000 new jobs needed to be created every year.

"Where are these new jobs when less than 14,000 were created in 2011, according to Statistics New Zealand?"

- The Dominion Post

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