$111.5m to support NZers into employment
Budget 2016 invests $111.5 million of operating funding over four years to support more New Zealanders, especially young people, to get off benefits and gain sustainable employment, Social Development Minister Anne Tolley says.
“Building on the success of the Government’s welfare reforms, we are sharpening the focus on New Zealanders at highest risk of remaining on a benefit long-term, so they and their families can thrive and lead successful lives,” Mrs Tolley says.
As one of the Better Public Services targets, the Government is aiming to reduce long-term benefit dependency by 25 per cent and reduce the long-term cost of benefit dependence by $13 billion by 2018.
Budget 2016 includes:
- $61.2 million, of which $19.8 million is reprioritised, to allow the Youth Service to be extended to 19-year old parents and 18 and 19-year old job seekers who are most at risk of long-term welfare dependency. Currently, a range of 16, 17 and 18-year olds are eligible for the Youth Service, which provides specialist case management and support to help young people into training and education, and prepares them for employment. Nineteen-year-old sole parents have an average lifetime liability to taxpayers of more than $218,000 and on average go on to spend almost 18 years on benefits.
- $26 million over four years will maintain the increase in targeted case management to 120,000 clients. It will also fund the 3K to Work programme, an extension of the 3K to Christchurch initiative, which supports clients who have a confirmed job offer with a $3,000 payment to help them relocate.
- $9 million from 2016/17 to 2018/19 to bring together agencies and stakeholders as part of a range of pilot initiatives to improve the life outcomes for people with complex health conditions.
- $15.3 million over three years from 2016/17 to 2018/19 to support a trial aimed at increasing the employment prospects of released prisoners. Multi-skilled professionals will work with prisoners from pre-release for up to a year to help them prepare, find and stay in employment to help reduce reoffending.
“We must always look at new ways of supporting at-risk people to gain employment and to improve their lives,” Mrs Tolley says.
“This range of new initiatives focuses on those people who have more complex issues, but who deserve a chance to succeed.”