Labour’s Flexi-wage a flop

The much hyped flexi-wage ‘expansion’ is not delivering the jobs Labour promised, National’s Social Development and Employment spokesperson Louise Upston says.

“The Government promised the scheme would support 40,000 New Zealanders into employment over two years. But at its current rate of delivery, it will barely achieve 60 per cent of that promise.

“Not only is Labour failing to once again deliver one of its cornerstone election promises, it’s hurting Kiwis who are struggling to make ends meet in the process.

“Since the start of the latest Delta lockdown more than 8000 people have been forced onto the Jobseeker benefit. This means more people have moved onto Jobseeker in the seven weeks since the start of the Delta outbreak than Flexi-wage has supported into jobs in seven months.

“194,571 people are on the Jobseeker benefit right now, 50,000 more than at the start of the pandemic, and 70,000 more than when Labour took office.

“The expansion to Flexi-Wage was supposed to reduce economic scarring or, as the Prime Minister said, ‘loss of potential’.  

“Of those the Government claims Flexi-wage has supported into work, just 14 per cent were on a benefit for longer than two years. This means the scheme is mostly subsidising the salary costs of people who are likely to have been hired anyway.

“The Government chose to expand Flexi-wage as an existing scheme so it could be delivered quickly. This makes its slow start even less excusable.

“The full potential of thousands of New Zealanders is being squandered by the Government’s failure to deliver one of its largest employment initiatives.

“The Government must grapple with the problem of growing benefit dependency and invest in a targeted way to help at risk New Zealanders into jobs. Failing to deliver isn’t just breaking a promise here, it’s squandering Kiwis’ potential.”