A blowout in the number of people on the Jobseekers benefit and a significant reduction in sanctions imposed over the last year shows the Government has given up on getting more people into work, National’s spokesperson for Social Development Louise Upston says.

“Unemployment is the same that it was a year ago so there is no explanation for almost 9,000 more people on the Jobseeker benefits since Labour took office.

“The Labour-led Government inherited a strong, growing economy which was creating 10,000 jobs per month. In one year alone this Government has turned that around.

“It is particularly concerning that the number of 18-24 year olds on Jobseeker benefits has seen an almost 10 per cent increase in the last year. We know that the earlier someone goes on to a benefit the longer they will be stuck on a benefit and their life opportunities will be significantly reduced.

“What is also alarming is the effect that the increased pressure on the cost of living the Government is imposing on families and communities has had. There are now over 27,000 more people seeking benefit advances and almost 20,000 more people seeking hardship assistance for food under this Government.

“This is appalling and the Government cannot blame anyone but themselves. The Government also claims to be cracking down on loan sharks but is encouraging New Zealanders to use benefit advances, trapping people into debt with loans from MSD.

“The number of sanctions being imposed has reduced dramatically and is a signal that the Government has no goal of getting people off benefits and into work.

“Because of National’s strong growing economy, over 70,000 people moved off benefit and into work in the last seven years and the number of children living in benefit-dependent households reduced by 60,000.

“National believes that people need a fair go not a free ride out and that the removal of benefit sanctions will only increase reliance on Government support.”

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