Social Development Minister Anne Tolley says the number of people receiving a main benefit has continued to fall, with the proportion of the population on a main benefit (9.6 per cent) the lowest it’s been in a March quarter since 1997.
“At the end of the quarter there were 278,236 people on a main benefit, a decrease of 1,655 (0.6 per cent) compared to last year,” says Mrs Tolley.
“Those receiving Sole Parent Support had the largest drop in the last 12 months, falling by 4,175 (6.3 per cent).
“Budget 2015 increased the amount of places for work-focused case management meaning we now have nearly 50,000 sole parents receiving extra advice and guidance. It’s great to see this targeted support is helping more families into independence.
“We’ve also seen the number of sole parents with part-time work obligations increase by 44.4 per cent as a result of the $790 million Child Hardship Package that came into effect on 1 April 2016.
“This package set new requirements for sole parents and partners of beneficiaries to look for part-time work of 20 hours a week when their youngest child turns 3, instead of 5.
“The number of young people receiving Youth Payment/Young Parent Payment combined increased by 536 (62.5 per cent) compared to last year due to the Youth Service being extended in 2016 to include 19 year old sole parents.
“This means 19 year old parents continue to receive Young Parent Payment instead of transferring to Sole Parent Support, alongside receiving wraparound support to help them into training and education and to prepare for work.
“We know that supporting parents, particularly when they’re young, into work helps break the cycle of welfare dependence, ensures better life outcomes for both them and their children and reduces the long-term cost to the taxpayer.”
The latest benefit data is available at https://www.msd.govt.nz/about-msd-and-our-work/publications-resources/statistics/benefit/index.html