Benefit numbers not whole story – Labour

  • 21/01/2016
Labour's social development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni (Getty)
Labour's social development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni (Getty)

The Government says the number of people on the benefit is falling, but the opposition says that doesn't mean they're finding jobs.

According to new data from the Ministry of Social Development, the number of people on the main benefit fell by 7800, or 2.5 percent, in 2015.

The largest chunk of those getting off the benefit are solo parents, of which 5.7 percent have left the benefit.

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said the drop was due to a government focus on work-focused case management in the last budget.

"The additional places are focused on sole parents and jobseekers with health conditions and disabilities and take an intensive and proactive approach to supporting people into work," she said.

"We've set an aspirational target to reduce the total number of people receiving main benefits by 25 percent [to 220,000 total] ... and reduce the long-term cost of benefit dependence by $13 billion."

But Labour's social development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni said the Government was only telling part of the story by ignoring how many people had actually gone on to work.

"The Minister is not being transparent about the numbers of people coming off the benefit, particularly the number of people going into jobs because they're not keeping proper track of how many people are going into work," she said.

Statistics New Zealand's September quarter statistics showed unemployment had risen to 6 percent in a year, with total numbers of unemployed up by 10 percent.

Ms Sepuloni said there had been no real focus on jobs, but rather just reducing benefit numbers.

"The focus has been to get people off the benefit however they can. Regardless of whether they have an income," she said.

"There's some information to show a few of them go off because of study, marital status or death. But there's a much higher proportion where the government has no information about where they're going on to."