New Zealanders on welfare top 310,000

Press Release: New Zealand Labour Party
Hon Annette King Social Development Spokesperson
In just 12 months over 50,000 additional Kiwis have signed on for benefits, Labour Social Development spokesperson Annette King says.

“It is extremely concerning that an additional 52,000 people in a single year have signed on for benefits meaning there are now more than 310,000 Kiwis reliant on the Government for their income,” Annette King said

“The real numbers of people losing their jobs is reflected in an increase in all benefit categories,”
• An additional 33,000 people on the unemployment benefit since this time last year.
• Nearly 8000 more people on the DPB
• Nearly 2000 more people on the invalids benefits
• Over 8000 more people on the sickness benefit
• Over 1000 more people on other benefits

“These figures show there are significantly more unemployed than first thought, obviously single parents who lose their jobs end up on the DPB not the unemployment benefit, while anyone with a disability who becomes unemployed may be put on to the sickness or invalids benefit.

“This worrying increase in beneficiary numbers shows just how far in denial the National Government is about unemployment in this country. John Key and Bill English have given up on stopping New Zealanders ending up on the benefit numbers and they still have no plan for the country’s recovery.

“Where is the promised increase in the level of take home pay a beneficiary can earn by working before it affects their benefit? Increasing this level can be a stepping stone to full-time employment. Where is the help for small business to help them through the recession and where is the Government’s engagement with local councils to help create local solutions to unemployment?

“New Zealand needs fresh ideas and solutions to tackle unemployment, but the National Government doesn’t have any. We have heard a lot of talk about taking the sharpest edges off the recession but in reality they have done little or nothing to help the nearly 52,000 additional people on benefits.

“It’s time the Government stopped talking and started acting, surely some of those people who have lost their jobs could be encouraged to retrain. But National has refused to lift caps on tertiary student numbers, has cut the Training Incentive Allowance for those on the DPB and has made funding cuts to night classes that will actually see more people lose their jobs.

“Bill English and John Key have crowed about the fact that despite the recession they haven’t cut benefit entitlements. But the reality is they have cut everything else that could help to get Kiwis back to work,” Annette King said.