'Wisconsin plan harms elderly, disabled'

Comptroller report shows funds withheld from those unable to rejoin work force.

June 4, 2007 09:01
1 minute read.
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The companies running the Wisconsin plan - the government program aimed at integrating welfare recipients back into the working world - have been withholding funds from the elderly and disabled, a report by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss revealed Monday morning. According to the plan, the companies have government authorization to withhold funds from those who are eligible to work but refuse to do so; however, the comptroller's report found, the companies have also refused to give money to those incapable of rejoining the work force due to old age or physical disability. The state, meanwhile, has failed to set clear standards for deciding what constitutes an unjustified refusal to work, the report said. In addition, the report showed, the centers that were meant to provide vocational training to beneficiaries gave courses that were irrelevant to reentering the work force, such as road safety, homeopathy, parenting and geography, Army Radio reported. However, the Mehalev organization, which runs the program, said in response that "most of the deficiencies the comptroller highlighted have already been fixed." The program began operation in August 2005 and is being run as a two-year pilot in four locations - Jerusalem, Ashkelon-Sderot, Nazareth and Hadera-Wadi Ara - by four multi-national companies. The comptroller's report confirmed the criticism that has been consistently leveled at the welfare-to-work program - namely, that it attempts to force unemployed people who are elderly, disabled or totally unsuitable for employment to participate in the program full-time or have their social welfare benefits stopped.

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