Where is the plan to end the welfare dependency crisis?

Today’s Ministry of Social Development quarterly release demonstrates Labour’s failure to deliver on its promises to get people off welfare and into work, says National’s Social Development and Employment spokesperson Louise Upston.

“There are around 360,000 New Zealanders currently receiving a main benefit. That’s about one in nine of the working age population dependent on the Government for an income.

“Despite labour shortages in many industries, more than 190,000 Kiwis are receiving the Jobseeker benefit.

“Ongoing lockdowns and the associated uncertainty have a real impact on jobs and livelihoods.

“However, Jobseeker numbers started ballooning well before Covid arrived in New Zealand, with more than 70,000 having moved onto Jobseeker since Labour came to power.

“People on the Jobseeker benefit need a National government to kickstart the economy and provide more job opportunities for people to move into.

“National unashamedly believes employment is the best way to escape hardship and today’s figures show a record number of people continue to receive hardship grants.

“The strain many New Zealanders are under right now has been exacerbated by Labour’s failure to deliver on the big promises it made prior to the election about moving people off welfare and into jobs.

“Billions of dollars were allocated to projects which were announced with great fanfare and photo opportunities at the time.  

“The Flexi-Wage extension, for example, was supposed to support 40,000 people off welfare and into jobs over two years. Barely 60 per cent of this will be achieved at the current rate.

“More people moved onto Jobseeker during the first seven weeks of the Delta lockdown than flexi-wage supported into jobs in seven months.

“Today’s figures also show Labour is leaving people to languish on a benefit for longer.

“More than 53,000 people have spent longer than a year on Jobseeker under Labour. A dependency crisis is emerging which must be averted.

“Future generations will bear the costs if the jobs Labour promised fail to materialise.

“Labour’s failure to deliver is hurting the more than 190,000 jobseekers dependent on the Government for an income and squandering their full potential.

“National knows these New Zealanders want to stand on their own two feet and be able to support their families.

“Unfortunately, they are being let down by a Government which made grand jobs promises but have failed to deliver jobs at a time many New Zealanders are in need.”