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Welfare reform announcement expected tomorrow

Published: 6:48PM Sunday February 26, 2012 Source: ONE News

The Government is set to announce its first tranche of sweeping welfare reforms tomorrow, ONE News has learned.

More than a third of current beneficiaries will be caught up in the first stage of welfare reforms.

The benefits set to be affected by tomorrow's announcement include the sole parents and women on Domestic Purposes Benefits, as well as youth benefits.

Changes to the widow's benefit will also be announced, and ONE News understands steps are being taken to abolish that benefit altogether.

National officially released its welfare plans in November last year and campaigned heavily on them in the lead up to the election.

The changes would see sole-parents forced to seek part-time work once their youngest child reaches five, and seek full-time work once their youngest turns 14.

Those currently receiving the Sickness Benefit would be required to look for part-time or full-time work, but with some temporary exemptions for those not work-ready.

The Unemployment Benefit would also be replaced with a 'Jobseeker Support' benefit.

Labour at the time slammed the policies, saying changing the benefits' system would not create extra jobs.

National promised that there would not be any cuts to main benefit rates, and that these rates will continue to be adjusted for inflation.

The party expects the changes would result in up to 46,000 people coming off welfare and another 11,000 working part-time within four years.

National's social development spokesperson Paula Bennett said she expects the scheme to result in savings of $1 billion over four years

However it will also be costlier in the short term, with $130 million being spent each year for the first four years, money used to fund childcare, extra staff and IT costs.