Job-seeker beneficiaries have increased by more than 15,000 since the Labour-led government took office:
An increase of 15,500 people on jobseeker benefits under the Labour-led Government shows that they are not motivated to help New Zealanders into work, National’s Social Development spokesperson Louise Upston says.
“The Government proudly announced last June that new policies had led to a 23 per cent daily drop in sanctions. They now say that they have not changed Work and Income’s policies.
“What they claim not to see is the direct link between the removal of work obligations and the rise in people receiving benefits.
A benefit provides temporary assistance for some people when for a variety of reasons they find themselves without work.
But removing work obligations has made it too easy for others for whom a benefit is preferable to a job.
“If the Minister isn’t going to encourage people into work and more fulfilling lives, she should rename the Jobseeker Support benefit, because its recipients are no longer obliged to look for jobs.
“The Government lacks ambition for young people, with 17 per cent more 18 to 24-year-olds claiming Jobseeker Support in the past year. This is clear evidence that this Government isn’t investing in helping young people improve their lives.
The younger people become beneficiaries the longer they are likely to stay dependent on the state with the increased risks of poorer health and likelihood of committing crime that go with that.
“The Government also says it wants to end poverty. If that’s the case, they should be making every effort to reduce the number of benefit-dependent households.
“Benefits are an important safety net, but 8000 more Kiwis were dependent on Jobseeker Support for more than 12 months this June than in September 2017. Benefits are becoming a long-term trap.
“National supports New Zealanders to be aspirational. We believe the best way out of poverty is through work.
“That this Government is responsible for such a large rise in the number of people on a jobseekers’ benefit while employers are crying out for workers shows its claims of kindness and care to be hollow words.”
The increase of 15,500 on job seeker benefits is a couple of thousand more people than the total population of Oamaru.
That isn’t good for them, nor is it good for the country.
Every dollar spent on a benefit and the associated costs of delivering it to people who could be in work is a dollar taken from tax and not available to provide better social services and infrastructure.
This government is more than half way through its term and is failing to deliver policies that would make a positive difference to the country and its people.
Instead it’s spent more than $300 million on working groups:
The Government’s constant outsourcing of work has left taxpayers with a $317 million bill, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.
“Over the past 21 months, there have been 279 working groups created or reviews launched. That’s a working group every two days since the Labour-led Government has been in office.
“The Government has used working groups as an excuse to stall on doing any work while the coalition squabbles in the background.
“It shipped off work to the Tax Working Group, the Welfare Expert Advisory Group, the Business Advisory Group and the Fair Pay Working Group. All of these groups reported back with recommendations but the Government has done little or nothing with them.
“New Zealanders will be scratching their heads wondering why their hard-earned taxpayer dollars are being spent on working groups when the work isn’t even being used. They’ll be asking themselves, what is the point of this Government?
“The Government has broken many promises it made leading into the 2017 election, like $20 million for rare disorders, $10 cheaper GP fees to all New Zealanders and free annual health and eye checks for seniors.
“Not every review is wasteful. We support the Government in calling for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch terrorist attacks, but the constant outsourcing of work takes the focus off the important reviews that really matter. Over the same time period when we were in Government, we had 113 reviews, less than 40 per cent of what this Government has called for.
“The Government has no plans for growing the strong economy it inherited, or for improving the lives of New Zealanders. Rather than having a plan and a vision for New Zealand it’s focused on keeping the coalition together and treading water.
As well as wasting money of working groups whose recommendations it ignores, the government is wasting money on poor policies.
“On top of all the working groups, the Government is making poor spending decisions, including more than $2 billion for fees-free tertiary, which has resulted in fewer students, $3 billion for Shane Jones’ slush fund and $2 billion on KiwiBuild, which has resulted in next to no houses.
“National would cut the waste and invest taxpayer dollars in more considered and targeted ways. Savings from these reviews alone could fund the Roxburgh children’s village for the next 90 years, fund 5,600 cochlear implants, restore and maintain full facilities at the Lumsden Maternity Clinic for more than a hundred years, or axe the regional fuel tax.
“National is doing the work in Opposition so we’re ready should we earn the right to govern in 2020. We have already released three comprehensive discussion documents and there are six more to come. Our polices will be in place and our legislation will be ready to go in time for 2020.”
Labour was unprepared for government and we’re paying the price for that.