More long-term beneficiaries means more hardship

The latest figures from the Ministry of Social Development show the Government must urgently tackle long-term benefit dependency, National’s Social Development and Employment spokesperson Louise Upston says.

“While the number of people on benefits has decreased slightly, the figures show more than 200,000 New Zealanders are still without a job. 

“Under this Government, the number of New Zealanders out of work has grown by more than 80,000. That is roughly the population of Palmerston North.

“Most concerning is that the number of long-term beneficiaries is increasing; 119,073 people on Jobseeker have been on the benefit programme for more than 12 consecutive months. For comparison, in the December 2017 quarter, fewer than 70,000 people had spent more than 12 months on the Jobseeker benefit.

“Not only do people stuck on the benefit long-term find it harder to get back into the workforce, but they experience a poorer quality of life. Research tells us children growing up in benefit dependent households are more likely to suffer negative health impacts, lower educational achievement, and reduced aspirations.

“The Government must prioritise enabling New Zealanders to be free of long-term benefit dependence if they are serious about reducing hardship. Instead, they have removed initiatives, such as the subsequent child policy, which enabled people on a benefit to be assisted and supported back into work.

“The Prime Minister promised there was a plan to deliver more jobs before the election. It turns out a myriad of working groups are still figuring out the detail of this so-called jobs plan.

“The best path out of hardship is through paid employment. We need a Government that knows how to manage the economy so there are more job opportunities for New Zealanders. No Government should be satisfied with so many Kiwis living benefit to benefit; the primary goal should be empowering people to be independent and working towards a better life.”