Election 2020: financial assistance to be overhauled
Legislation to revamp the financial assistance system is in the pipeline, the Minister of Labour announced yesterday.
Jason Hayward said that the changes, if approved by the next government, would help give assistance to people who needed it and assist recipients to return to the workforce.
Mr Hayward added: “The reformed system will focus less on policing and administration of rules and more on helping more individuals achieve access to services and support available to help them. This approach will not only help them meet their basic needs, but also allow them to achieve a greater sense of personal and financial success.”
Mr Hayward said some of the reforms would need changes to legislation, but the end result would be a less punitive system.
He added: “The way in which financial assistance operates is according to the law. They will continue to hold people accountable to the rules that are in place.
“What we are talking about moving forward is amending some of those rules so that there is less policing taking place.”
Mr Hayward said: “The strategy has an even more ambitious goal of moving our able-bodied and able disabled recipients into employment opportunities as soon as possible.
“This will help to avoid long-term dependency on the system. Furthermore, through active engagement in the workforce and participation in training and other support services, recipients will benefit greatly from a completely new and different approach.”
Mr Hayward said that under the proposed rules the eligibility rules for financial assistance would be changed to allow applicants to hold or receive gifts of up to $2,500. Recipients would also be allowed to have savings or investments worth up to $5,000 in the case of single-adult homes and households with more than two adults could have up to $7,500 in savings or investments and still be eligible.
The regime would also include:
• Personal employment plans and strengthened employment support services to ensure recipients have a plan to get employed and are given support to become financially independent
• Amended childcare support rules to allow financial assistance recipients to retain 50 per cent of child support received to help cover child-related expenses
• Improved access to affordable and suitable housing through collaboration with BHC and landlords of rent-controlled properties
• Enhanced incentives to work to help clients improve their standard of living when they have a job or increase the number of hours they work
• Greater resources for public-facing services to ensure appropriate staffing, support and services, along with “an appropriate performance framework, complaints and dispute process”
• Proportional levels of employment services based on levels of need
• Revised cross-governmental approach to effective social services to improve the ability to help people obtain and keep good, sustainable work
• Improved assistance for disabled people through a range of employment services and specialised disability-related support services
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