No significant problem with job scheme - Finance minister
Schemes that gave young people work skills would be measured in how many got jobs, Finance Minister Bill English said today, defending a programme accused of wasting thousands of dollars.
A TV3 investigation of projects funded by the Government's Community Max programme discovered an overgrown 1.6ha garden with one pumpkin in it.
The Ministry of Social Development had described it as "up and running and supplying food to many elderly people".
The community garden and a scenic reserve project cost $317,000.
The scenic reserve had a wooden sign but was virtually inaccessible, the report said.
Another approved project was run by City on a Hill Christian Church, which described itself as a charitable trust.
It was given $334,000 and government officials said its young participants were involved in making sheets, pillow cases, tea towels and curtains for the local marae.
But a woman running it admitted it took a long time to set up and the group instead spent six months altering clothes from second-hand shops.
Mr English told reporters today that he had been assured that projects were monitored.
"The point of these programmes is getting the young people work-ready and getting them into jobs so when we review the results then that's what we will be looking at.
"But if you turn up eight months after the gardening project is finished, after the vegetables have been pulled out of the ground and given away and sold then you are likely to find an overgrown garden."
Mr English said the scheme took young people who were doing nothing and gave them skills they could put on their CV.
"The choice is; just leave them on the scrap heap, do nothing, and hope that they will eventually find a job. The Government took the view that with the big increase of youth unemployment that we should put some taxpayer money behind getting some of these young people the opportunity to get to work, work in a team, learn a bit of discipline and that would help them get a job."
Mr English said that scheme, and another -- Jobs Op -- may get further funding.
"The funding for some of these schemes is going to expire and we would look at it... I wouldn't want to comment particularly on those schemes, they've got their strengths and weaknesses and we need to make sure they have actually been effective.
"It is certainly legitimate to be asking questions about whether they work, of course the alternative is not doing anything and that could be more damaging for young people."
Mr English said the concerns raised so far did not indicate significant problems.