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An explosion of 6,700 more people on the dole in the last quarter shows this Labour-led Government isn’t serious about getting Kiwis off welfare, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.

“More than 22,000 extra people have gone on the dole under this Government. Employers are crying out for workers and there shouldn’t be more New Zealanders lining up for benefits.

“This latest increase is the equivalent of all of Ōtaki or Ngaruawahia going on the dole. The numbers are out of control.

“It isn’t kind or caring to let New Zealanders languish on the dole when they could be living better lives. The Government’s PR campaign for a ‘kinder’ image is in tatters.

“It has crowed about low unemployment rates but if the economy is in such good shape then why is the number of people on benefits skyrocketing?

“Northland is one of the hardest hit regions, with a 12 per cent increase representing more than 1,000 people.

“The number of people on the dole in Northland is already double the national average. The Prime Minister declared Mana in Mahi, which was targeted at Northland, a ‘win-win situation’. Right now, it looks like an abject failure.

“There’s also been almost a 25 per cent increase in Māori on the dole, more than twice the rate of Pākehā.

“More people on benefits means more people struggling to survive. National believes the best way out of poverty is through work, but more Kiwis on the dole shows that this Government is failing to move New Zealanders out of poverty.

“The cost of living has dramatically increased under this Government, and that’s reflected in the more than half a million hardship assistance grants paid out in the past three months.

“More and more New Zealanders are struggling to put food on the table and a roof over their heads. New Zealanders can’t afford this Government.”

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