A 21 per cent drop in the number of benefit sanctions imposed since Labour took office and a worrying increase in the number of people receiving main benefit is a warning to the Government, Social Development spokesperson Louise Upston says.

“These numbers are incredibly concerning given over 70,000 moved off benefit and into work between 2011 and last year under National’s watch, and the number of children living in benefit-dependent households reduced by 60,000.

“But New Zealanders will be rightly concerned at this uptick in dependence on the state and a reduction in the obligations on beneficiaries to help themselves. With unemployment still falling and jobs being created there are plenty of opportunities for people who are looking for work.

“National believes people are better off in paid work so they can live independent lives and provide a better future for themselves and their children. We believe in supporting our most vulnerable while ensuring they work with us to improve their lives but we also believe people should work to help themselves and be held accountable if they don’t.

“If the Government decides that mutual obligations shouldn’t exist, or shouldn’t be enforced, the incentives to get into work reduce significantly. That’s not fair on hardworking New Zealanders who want to help others but want to see those people do their bit.

“Today’s numbers should be a warning to the Government a softening of mutual obligations will mean fewer people in work and an increase in the servicing of misery.

“National believes that welfare rolls should be continuing to drop, not climbing. Now is not the time to stop the important work of getting people off benefits, into meaningful work and improving their lives.”

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