Labour's centrepiece 2020 election policy labelled failure by National as new data revealed

More than two years on, a centrepiece policy from Labour's 2020 election campaign has been labelled a failure by the Opposition.

The Flexi-Wage scheme promised to help Kiwis impacted by COVID-19 into employment with a specific target to help women. But Newshub can reveal women make up just 37 percent of those involved.

Mucking in and making some sammies, the Minister for Social Development was on Monday celebrating a Flexi-Wage milestone. More than 20,000 Kiwis have been supported into jobs. 

Flexi-Wage was a centrepiece policy in Labour's 2020 election campaign in the wake of our first head-to-head with COVID-19.

"A wage subsidy to help employers hire those on a benefit who are at risk of long-term unemployment," Labour leader Jacinda Ardern said at the time. 

For every new hire, businesses get up to $10,000 to top up wages and/or cover the costs of training.

"This provides a subsidy and support to employers so that they give people who they might not otherwise a chance," said Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni. 

It was expanded to include job seekers not on a benefit but disadvantaged in the labour market, like women. A Cabinet paper even promised women would be targeted. 

But Newshub can reveal despite that promise, only 37 percent of those assisted into work by Flexi-Wage are women.

"When you look at the industries that access Flexi-Wage, the largest is construction and despite the fact we've had a push to get more women into construction, clearly there are still more men in that space which is why we've got those figures," said Sepuloni. 

National's accusing the Government of failing the women it promised to help.

"Obviously we want to see more New Zealanders in work, but Labour's own promise has failed women in New Zealand," said National's social development spokesperson Louise Upston. 

"We're always going to be trying to increase the numbers and make sure that we've got that balance… we're very happy with the effort and success of the programme," said Sepuloni. 

But Upston said that's not good enough. 

Newshub's also obtained figures that show just over 4000 people taking part in the scheme have left their jobs early.

The minister in charge says a large chunk of them must've found other work because only 1800 of the 20,000 participating have ended up back on the benefit.