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More people are moving onto a benefit but fewer sanctions are being imposed on those who fail to hold up their end of the bargain as the Government reduces the responsibilities placed on beneficiaries to help themselves, Opposition Leader Simon Bridges says.

“New figures show that since the Government took office, there has been a 21 per cent drop in the number of sanctions imposed, despite there being almost 2000 more people on the Jobseeker benefit.

“This isn’t a sign that more people on benefits are being more compliant – it’s a sign the Government is going soft.

“These figures show a reversal of the trend under National which saw over 70,000 people moved off benefits and into work between 2011 and last year, and the number of children living in benefit-dependent households reduced by 60,000.

“The Jobseeker benefit is there to support those who need it but it comes with obligations including looking for work, turning up to appointments and staying drug-free. They must fail repeatedly before they have their benefit cut or reduced, until they meet the obligations.

“We know benefit sanctions are an effective tool to help people into work, with 95 per cent of people who receive a formal warning meeting their obligations within four weeks.

“Ensuring that benefits come with obligations is a fair agreement with the hardworking New Zealanders who are willing to lend a hand to people willing to help themselves. But this Government clearly doesn’t think it needs to be a two-way street.

“That’s worrying and signals a return to a system where the Government just hands out cash and sends people on their way. People’s lives are improved when they get off benefits and into work and that must continue to be encouraged.

“It’s important to help our most vulnerable by providing income support when they are out of work but also by incentivising them to get into work and improve their lives. This Government seems intent on tipping the balance too far the other way.”

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