National to shift young people off welfare into work

A National Government will take a new approach to reducing benefit dependency among young people because they and taxpayers are being failed, National Party Leader Christopher Luxon and Social Development and Employment spokesperson Louise Upston say.

“It makes no sense that with businesses crying out for workers, there are 34,000 under 25-year-olds receiving the Jobseeker benefit, an increase of 49 per cent from five years ago,” Mr Luxon says.

“Even more concerning, over 13,000 under 25-year-olds have been stuck on the Jobseeker benefit for a year or longer – almost twice as many as when Labour took office.

“This is a stark picture of the Government’s failure to deliver and comes despite there being 2300 more staff at the Ministry of Social Development than five years ago.

“A National Government I lead will not tolerate this waste of human potential, or the unfairness of taxpayers’ money being spent on welfare for people who could be working.

“That’s why today I’ve announced National’s ‘Welfare that Works’ policy, initially focussing on young Jobseekers.

“They are our first priority because data shows that if someone is under the age of 20 and goes on a benefit, they will spend an average of 12 years of their lives on welfare, risking the human and economic costs that come with welfare dependency.

“A National government will not keep funding failure by government departments. If government departments can’t deliver, we’ll find someone else who can.”

National’s Welfare that Works policy has three main components:

  • Community providers will be contracted to provide 18–24-year-old Jobseekers with a dedicated Job Coach to help get them into work, with funding linked to keeping young people off welfare.
  • Jobseekers will receive more support, with a proper assessment of their barriers to finding work, and an individual job plan to address them.
  • Those who fail to follow their plan will face sanctions, such as money management or benefit reductions, but long-term under 25 Jobseekers who get into work and stay off benefit for 12 months will receive a $1000 bonus.

“Right across the public service, including health, education, housing and welfare, we’re seeing Labour spending more money on bigger bureaucracies that produce worse results,” Ms Upston says.

“We owe it to taxpayers to use their money more effectively. Given MSD’s failure to bring Jobseeker numbers down, despite an extremely tight labour market, it’s clear we need a new approach.

“National will redirect some MSD funding to community providers, with those who are most successful receiving bigger contracts over time, as they build their capacity to work with young people.

“National will scale up the Welfare that Works programme over time, with a goal of at least 8,000 Jobseekers working with not-for-profit community providers instead of MSD within four years.

“Society has obligations to Jobseekers, but Jobseekers also have obligations to society. Taxpayers are happy to support people in their time of need on the basis those people are taking steps to help themselves.

“Young people being on welfare can lead to a life of isolation and often despair, instead of participation and fulfilment through work.

“We also know children raised in benefit dependent homes tend to have poorer life outcomes. We want to break that cycle, and a job is vital to achieving that.”

Mr Luxon says National wants every New Zealander to have the best opportunity to make the most of themselves.

“I simply don’t accept that some people are too hard to help.”

You can read our policy fact-sheet here.