Low unemployment masks dependency crisis

Confirmation that the labour market remains extremely tight makes the Government’s failure to address the benefit dependency crisis even more shameful, National’s Social Development and Employment spokesperson Louise Upston says.

“With unemployment low and employers across the country crying out for workers, the number of people languishing on a benefit should be plunging.

“Instead, there are still almost 90,000 more people on a benefit today than when Labour first took office. In fact, one in every nine working-age Kiwis are currently dependent on the state for an income.

“It will surprise many at a time of low unemployment and high job vacancies that there are still more than 187,000 people sitting on the Jobseeker benefit.

“It begs the question, what is the Government actually doing to support those on benefits into jobs?

“Perhaps even more concerning than Labour’s failure to get people off the benefit and into work is the fact that Kiwis are spending far longer on the benefit too.

“116,000 people now spend more than one year on a Jobseeker benefit, an increase of almost 50,000 since Labour were first elected.

“We know that the longer someone is stuck on a benefit, the harder it becomes to return to the workforce.

“The Labour Government has engineered a dependency crisis that is the exact opposite of kindness. We need to be more aspirational for New Zealanders and break the cycle of dependency.

“If they don’t do something urgently to bring benefit dependency down, they risk consigning an entire generation of Kiwis to leading worse lives.”