Wednesday, 18 September 2013 15:09

Whiteware deal for beneficiaries

Haier appliances_in_Shanghai_apartment_wikiAn agreement has been signed between Fisher and Paykel and the Social Development Ministry that will see higher end whiteware products provided to beneficiaries.

Beneficiaries will continue to apply for hardship grants to purchase whiteware when required, but instead of buying second hand items that are more likely to need repairing, new Haier brand appliances will be available through the deal.

The initiative will see the Ministry of Social Development enter into a preferred supplier agreement with Fisher & Paykel Appliances Ltd.

Beneficiaries will continue to apply for hardship assistance - and if they qualify - will be provided with a high quality appliance, for which they will repay MSD.

Minister Paula Bennett says there will be long term savings of about $10 million as a result of the scheme because peoples' maintenance costs will halve.

The rollout will begin in the South Island later this month, with the whole country covered by early next year.

The Ministry and Fisher and Paykel are working together to see if there are any employment opportunities in the company for beneficiaries.

China's home appliance group, Haier Group, acquired more than 90 per cent of Fisher & Paykel Appliances in November 2012.

- RBG News/Newstalkzb

Published in National
Tuesday, 20 August 2013 15:22

Kiwisaver for CYF wards

Piggybank---NZ-moneyThe government is planning to get children in state care signed up to KiwiSaver.

This means every young person in CYF's care will get the Government's $1000 kickstart payment, as outlined in a press release today.  It is part of the wider Care Strategy encompassed in the Vulnerable Children Bill, which aims to give at-risk children a chance at a solid financial foundation to build their future on.

The Minister of Social Development believes these measures will better support children as they move out of State care and into independence. Paula Bennett says children in CYF care generally don't have family who can sign them up to a savings scheme, but being enrolled in KiwiSaver will affirm to caregivers and foster families that their future matters.

She explained that her time abroad on a U.S Eisenhower fellowship impressed upon her the value of state-sponsored savings accounts for all young people.

"We’ve been working on a range of supports for young people leaving care, called Set for Life to help them as they move into adulthood. I’m proposing we sign all children in care up to KiwiSaver, so they leave the care system with a solid financial foundation," says Mrs Bennett.

The law will be changed so the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Social Development can enrol the young person in KiwiSaver, act as guardian and manage the account. Furthermore, members of the public would also be able to contribute financially through payroll giving.

- Newstalk ZB/ RBG News

Published in National
Wednesday, 14 August 2013 17:50

Shine TV Headlines - 14 August 2013

TV-Nzone-Tonight-Generic

Brad Mills has today's headlines including another ACC personal information leak; a boy from Flaxmere recovers in hospital after a hit and run; Two bus loads of Palestinian prisoners have been released from their Israeli jails; a New Plymouth family home is crushed by a tree, and a water purifier in the form of a large straw.

From the RBG News Centre for Shine TV.

Published in National
Tuesday, 13 August 2013 18:59

Shine TV Headlines - 13 August 2013

TV-Nzone-Tonight-GenericDavina William presents today's news, including sweeping Ministry of Social Development reforms aimed at preventing child abuse; United Future's return to the game; and an early setback for the All Blacks' championship hopes.

From the RBG News Centre for Shine TV.

Published in National
Tuesday, 13 August 2013 16:33

Reforms aimed at preventing child abuse

The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) has announced sweeping changes to protect children by constraining the movements of people who pose a threat to children.

Child -_alone1

An omnibus bill called the "Vulnerable Children's Bill" is set to be introduced, which includes Child Harm Prevention Orders. Under the reforms, people who are seen as posing a high risk of offending against children will be banned from contact with them. More government departments will also have to report on what they are doing to protect children.

Currently the state has to prove a parent is unsafe, but that is set to be reversed. That means convicted child murderers and child abusers who go on to have more children will have to prove they are fit to parent again.

The MSD's Paula Bennett strongly believes that someone who has committed a serious offence against a child should not be allowed near children again until they no longer pose a threat. Extensive changes are being made to screening and vetting of state sector staff, and over 300,000 people who work with children will face much tighter scrutiny - such as paediatricians, teachers, CYF social workers, children’s counsellors, and library reading group leaders.  

Ms Bennett says the intention is not to tar people as being threats or guilty, rather she wants to set a threshold that people have to meet to work with children.

The Social Development Minister signalled that, once passed into law, the comprehensive child protection package would be applied retroactively. That means it is possible that children may be removed from current parental care if their parents do not pass the safety checks. Ms Bennett is aware of approximately 150 more assessments that may be done, but said she can't make a judgement on how many of them involve children that may be removed from parental care.

At least one child welfare lobby group is applauding the proposed changes. Manager of Every Child Counts, Deborah Morris-Travers, said the Bill demonstrated the government's sincere commitment to protecting children from abuse.

"We welcome the leadership that will be required of State agencies and the requirement for them to have child protection policies in place... policies that ensure appropriate screening of people working with children are fundamental."

Ms Morris-Travers believes any questions about parents' rights to child custody in cases where there is no conviction would soon be answered, as the proposal will be assessed for Bill of Rights implications. She expects a high standard of evidence will be demanded before custodial orders can be imposed.

Paula Bennett identified several other improvements under the Ministry's 10-year Children's Action Plan. The MSD has already installed two Children's Teams (Rotorua & Whangarei), a National Children's Director, and a Vulnerable Children's Board of Chief Executives. A database of at-risk children is being developed, and the Minsistry is seeking to increase the pool of iwi caregivers.

Citing sobering abuse and mortality statistics as the impetus for action, Ms Bennett did not shy away from acknowledging past systemic failures, which she is confident the reforms will resolve.

"When a nine-and-a-half year-old was seriously abused in West Auckland, 25 agencies were involved; at least seven were government agencies. They weren’t co-ordinated and inaction from some contributed to allowing continued abuse."

- Min. Paula Bennett, MSD

She emphasised that today's policy announcement represents a serious paradigm-shift.

"I think the most important work I will ever do as a Minister is the work contained in the Children’s Action Plan. It fundamentally changes the way we work with children and how we protect the most vulnerable."

- Newstalk ZB/ RBG News

Published in National

WINZ-queueThe Ministry of Social Development has released the latest quarterly benefit figures, including a comparison of the new regime and the old.

Three new categories - Jobseeker Support, Sole Parent Support, and Supported Living Payment - replaced seven old benefits*as of yesterday (Monday July 15); and in a press statement, the Minister of Social Development says the clear comparison between the old and new systems upholds a transparent approach to reporting benefit statistics. Some changes were implemented last year and Paula Bennett believes the evidence speaks for itself.

"There are currently 309,782 people on benefits in New Zealand, a reduction from 310,146 the previous quarter and down from 320,041 the year prior," said Mrs Bennett. "That’s a reduction of more than 10,000 on welfare over the past 12 months and I am particularly pleased that 5,600 of them are sole parents."

msd benefit_table_untitledHowever, critics remain skeptical. Yesterday, groups such as Auckland Action Against Poverty, and the Council of Trade Unions, suggested that the reforms merely pushed beneficiaries off the government's expense ledger - not necessarily into jobs.

But Mrs Benentt said figures do show that, "In the last quarter alone more than 21,600 went off welfare into paid work."  She was confident that getting others into work is achievable because 50 percent of solo parents are employed, and expressed admiration for "every one of them."

Today, the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust has brought attention to the situation facing elderly primary caregivers. Trust chair, Diane Vivian, says she has heard from grandparents who worried about how the new Job Seekers' reform may affect them, because many are receiving letters to go to a Work and Income office for an appointment.

While benefit payments have not changed, there are new conditions placed on beneficiaries, such as rules around drug testing, outstanding arrest warrants, and new social obligations for beneficiaries with dependent children. Paula Bennett believes these changes will not only ensure that taxpayer-funded benefits are being spent more wisely, but will also encourage gainful employment.

"Expectations and obligations are clearer and have a much greater work focus, with more support to help people move off welfare into work."

- Newstalk ZB/ RBG News

* NB. Remaining benefits: Emergency Benefit, Emergency Maintenance Allowance, Orphan’s Benefit, Unsupported Child’s Benefit, Youth Payment, Youth Parent Payment, New Zealand Superannuation and Veteran’s Pension.

Published in National

WINZ signageFour people are being investigated over the Work and Income privacy breach.

A blogger managed to access 7,300 items of data from public kiosks at WINZ branches, including personal information concerning more than 1,400 people.  An initial report has found inefficiencies at the Ministry of Social Development.  The analysis by Deloittes criticises the Ministry for failing to properly test its systems or listen to warnings about the possible security risk.

That has put several jobs on the line as the Ministry works out just who is ultimately responsible for the massive privacy breach.  Chief Executive Brendan Boyle says four employment investigations are underway, but won't divulge what role those four people carry out.

He did reveal that senior managers were never given the opportunity to assess the risk, and address it.  Mr Boyle says the Deloittes report uncovers sloppy internal processes and follow-up, as well as serious deficiencies with project information and interpretation of risk management policies.

- Newstalk ZB

Published in National

The Government is making assurances that the restricted payment cards for young beneficiaries are secure.

The new cards are being distributed to more than 2,500 teenagers on social welfare, to be used for certain purchases only.  The usually private PIN numbers are printed on the card, with a signature also required for use.

That has raised concerns that people could easily forge signatures or misuse the cards. 

But the Social Development Minister assures the issue has been looked at.  Paula Bennett says there are plenty of other bizarre things that happen - from people buying 10 rotisserie chickens on the payment cards to sell at markets, to the bulk-buying of batteries to on-sell.

- Newstalk ZB

Published in National
Wednesday, 17 October 2012 18:50

Shine TV headlines - 17 October, 2012

ShineTV headlines

Brad Mills presents today's top stories, including news from the presidential debate in the USA between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, also John Key comments on the public opinion poll where 57 percent of people said they would prefer the drinking age to have been raised to 20. There is also news on the earthquake that struck the central North Island and Hone Harawira has a court appearance. From the RBG News Centre for Shine TV.

Catch our hourly updates every weeknight between 6:30-9:30pm on Freeview 25 or Sky 111, or online at www.shinetv.co.nz

 

Published in National
Tuesday, 16 October 2012 21:19

Shine TV headlines - 16 October, 2012

ShineTV headlines

Davina William presents today's top stories, including the possibility of iwi court action over the exclusion of a 'shares plus' scheme in Mighty River Power's partial float; reaction to the prospect of an independent Scotland ahead of the 2014 referendum; and the human 'Angry Birds' stunt to launch the 2013 Nitro Circus Live NZ Tour.  From the RBG News Centre for Shine TV.

Catch our hourly updates every weeknight between 6:30-9:30pm on Freeview 25 or Sky 111, or online at www.shinetv.co.nz

 

Published in National
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