Anne Tolley: Government's benefits target 'very aspirational'

  • 09/07/2016
Anne Tolley
Anne Tolley

Anne Tolley has effectively conceded that National is unlikely to meet its objective of moving 65,000 people off the benefit within the next two years.

The Minister for Social Development revealed that while the Government is "working hard to meet the target", it was merely an "aspirational" ambition - and she also admitted to being "not too worried" by the number of people coming off welfare support.

Thirty-three-thousand people have come off benefits in the last two years, and Ms Tolley says other positives have come out of her ministry's social investment approach to welfare.

"The biggest success we've had, of course, has been with sole parents - we've reduced the numbers of parents reliant on a benefit by 25 percent over the last five years," she said.

"That means those families are now living independently, and we know that's good for them and we know it's much better for their children."

But Ms Tolley, whose interview with TV3's The Nation aired on Saturday morning, said the 190,000 materially deprived children nationwide don't all need Government intervention.

Being "materially deprived" means they miss out on five of 13 key measures, such as having more than one pair of shoes, a warm home, and a hot meal every second day.

"You don't want the state interfering in families in a really intensive way if they don't need it," she said.

"There are people that come into the benefit system that have just got a blip in their lives [or] something's gone wrong. They just need a little bit of support.

"They don't need the state climbing all over them, providing a whole lot of intensive support that's not necessarily needed by them or, in fact, wanted by them."

Ms Tolley says she has approached the Minister of Finance to request "wider provision".

"If you look at welfare, we still need case workers to work with the wider benefits," she said.

"But there is this particular group of people that need much more targeted, much more intensive support - and that's going to cost us more."