Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has released latest benefit figures showing the number of people on welfare for the June quarter is the lowest since 2008, with sole parents leading the impressive results.
“There are over 16,000 fewer people on welfare compared to June 2013, with the total number currently 293,586,” Mrs Bennett said.
“When we look back just a few years to 2010, when benefit numbers were around 352,000, it’s clear to see the difference that welfare reforms are making, alongside New Zealand’s strong and growing economy.”
Numbers on the Jobseeker Support benefit have decreased by almost 7,500 since last year and have been consistently declining since 2010, even as the overall working age population has increased over the same time.
“Most significant is the 10.7 per cent total drop in people on the Sole Parent Support benefit in the past year, which is happening nationwide with 12 per cent drops in Nelson and Waikato, and an 11.9 per cent drop in the Bay of Plenty, as well as big decreases in Canterbury and Auckland,” Mrs Bennett said
“Sole parents, particularly those who go on benefit in their teens, have the highest lifetime costs of any group on welfare and are more likely to stay on benefit the longest.”
“We’ve deliberately targeted our welfare reforms at sole parents by investing millions into intensive support and training and into help with study and childcare, so that working while raising children alone is achievable, and rewarding.”
The latest figures also point to positive trends in the years to come, with the number of teen parents aged 18 and 19 on the Young Parent Payment decreasing by 11.7 per cent.
“With teen parents spending an average of 19 years on benefit and costing around $246,000 over a lifetime, the headway we are making now will pay off for generations,” Mrs Bennett said.
The intensive wrap-around support through Youth Services and the tailored support Work and Income case managers are providing each person they work with is paying off – for taxpayers and for people who were otherwise at risk of long term welfare dependency.
The drop in benefit numbers is good for those directly affected and indirectly for all of us.
Moving from welfare to work has economic and social benefits for those who do it and their dependants.
The more people who can help themselves do, the more there is to support those who can’t.
Reducing the long-term cost of welfare provides significant savings which benefit the country as a whole.