The considerable rise in the number of people on jobseeker benefits this winter shows that the Labour-led Government is short-changing New Zealanders, National’s Social Development Spokesperson Louise Upston says.

“The number of people on the benefit while looking for work has increased by over 15,500 since this Government took office. If unemployment is so low and the economy is so strong like the Government claims it is then New Zealanders would expect this figure to be falling.

“It’s clear this Government takes pride in the fact there are more people relying on benefits to survive. National is more aspirational for Kiwis and when employers are crying out for more workers there shouldn’t be more New Zealanders lining up for benefits.

“The most proven way out of poverty is through work, and the rise in the number of people receiving benefits shows that Labour is failing to move people out of poverty. It’s incomprehensible that the number on jobseeker benefits continues to rise as businesses consistently report staff shortages.

“The Government has also imposed 30 per cent fewer sanctions and created more and more dependence on the taxpayer. Sanctions are only imposed if someone fails to turn up for a job interview or work obligations several times.

“The cost of living has dramatically increased under this Government, and this is reflected in almost half a million hardship grants being issued in the past 12 months. More and more New Zealanders are struggling to put food on the table and a roof over their heads.

“If the Prime Minister is serious about tackling child poverty, why is she content for the number of families dependent on benefits to continue to rise?

“It isn’t kind or caring to reduce incentives to work and to stop Kiwis being more aspirational and living more meaningful lives. National believes New Zealanders are better off in work and creating opportunities for them and their families.

“New Zealanders can’t afford this Government.”

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