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Govt Should Do More To Protect Jobs, Labour Says

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Dec 16 NZPA - The Labour Party says a government plan to help people who lose their jobs because of the economic crisis should be linked to measures that will stimulate employment.

The package, called ReStart, will cost $50 million over two years if 70,000 people lose their jobs.

It offers short-term help for up to 16 weeks to low and moderate income families with children, and to people with high housing costs.

Those made redundant will be offered:

* A payment for families with children and who lose the In Work tax credit of $60 a week for families of up to three children and $15 a week for each extra child;

* A top up of the accommodation supplement for those who qualify for the maximum payment of $100 more a week;

* Assistance with getting a new job.

This would be on top of any benefits that people were eligible for.

Those who lose their jobs and get a redundancy payout of at least $25,000 will not qualify for ReStart.

Prime Minister John Key said it was estimated 92 percent of those made redundant would get less than $25,000.

Those made redundant from November 8 will be eligible, but the first payments will not be made until January 1.

Officials said the $50 million cost over two years -- which is how long the package will exist for -- was based on 70,000 people being made redundant.

They said this was not a forecast, but a worst case scenario.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said the package was designed to give some breathing space to those hit by redundancy.

Ms Bennett said she hoped employers would work hard to keep staff on and despite the gloom there were many jobs still out there.

Labour's Social Development spokeswoman Annette King said the policy was a welcome start, but more needed to be done to keep people in jobs. "The major failing of the National government package is that it had not been done in conjunction with a plan to stimulate the economy," Ms King said.

The Government has said its tax cuts due to come in on April 1 will help boost the economy, and it has plans to create jobs by bringing forward infrastructure projects.

NZPA PAR pw gt

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