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Minister of Social Development Carmel Sepuloni has today admitted she has no idea how many people are claiming the Jobseeker Benefit, National’s Social Development spokesperson Louise Upston says.

“Under this Government the Jobseeker Benefit, commonly known as the Unemployment Benefit has increased by 9000. Today in Parliament the Minister couldn’t answer the most basic questions about this.

“The percentage of people on the Jobseeker Benefit has increased from 4.1 per cent this time last year to 4.3 per cent now. Ms Sepuloni isn’t aware of this and couldn’t bring herself to acknowledge it in the House. 

“These are important figures and I find it unbelievable that the Minister overseeing this has no idea what’s going on in her own portfolio. How can New Zealanders have any faith she’s helping people off benefits and into work or that she’s working in their best interests when she has no clue how many people there are.

“This follows Ms Sepuloni having to correct last week’s answer in Question Time where she claimed the unemployment rate was 9.4 per cent when it is 4.5 per cent. She needs to put some time aside to read her briefings and understand what is actually going on here.

“If she did she would realise that while unemployment hasn’t risen, the number of people claiming the unemployment benefit has. It just shows that this Government is giving up on our most vulnerable people, instead of encouraging them into work so they can lead a better life.

“Under National more than 70,000 people moved off benefits and into work over a seven year period, thanks to our strong economic management. The number of children living in benefit-dependent households reduced by 60,000.

“National believes that all New Zealanders deserve a fair go, not a free ride. If Ms Sepuloni did her homework, she might just come to the same conclusion.”  

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