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Labour defends $60m youth jobs policy

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 7/11/2016

Labour is continuing to defend the cost of its new youth jobs policy, saying while it is a six-month programme not everyone will be involved for the full length.

Leader Andrew Little announced at the party's annual conference in Auckland on Sunday that in government he would spend $60 million giving young people minimum-wage jobs.

The full-time jobs would be offered to 10,000 young people who have been on Job Seeker benefits for at least six months, to give them training and motivation to enter the workforce.

The policy was announced as a six month programme, but costed with an average four month participation rate.

Prime Minister John Key said Labour got the figures wrong, but Mr Little denies that's the case.

Costing documents released by Labour show if every participant were to stay involved for the full six months, it would actually cost $87 million a year to implement.

"However that would be wrong because not everyone who starts on the Ready for Work programme will finish it," Mr Little says.

He said it was a "totally orthodox" approach to determining the cost.

"It's a six month policy. Anyone who goes into that scheme is guaranteed six months. Practice here and overseas in comparable schemes is that not everybody does the six months and in fact a large number don't because they find opportunities and do other training."

Mr Little, who has made a formal complaint about coverage of the policy by TVNZ, also criticised the media for questioning the policy costs.

"I think some of you demand a level of detail from me that you never, ever demand of a government with thousands of public servants," he said.

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