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At a time when New Zealand should be booming and when the government has significantly increased spending, we are seeing more people reliant on benefits and more families reliant on emergency grants.

The latest benefits statistics show that since coming into power, this Government’s policies have led to 15,000 more Kiwis relaying on a jobseeker benefit. There have also been nearly half a million emergency grants for things like food.

Labour’s poor policies have seen the cost of living dramatically increase. Rents are up an average of $50 a week, there are more taxes on petrol and electricity prices are set to rise. Incomes aren’t going as far as they used to. But despite employers crying out for new workers, there are thousands more people receiving a jobseeker benefit.

There will always be people who need short-term assistance. The benefit is an important safety net for New Zealanders who fall on hard times.

And there will always be those who will need ongoing support, like people on Supported Living Payments due to disability and long-term illness.

But we know that long-term reliance on benefits provide poor outcomes. It’s important for people to upskill, develop professionally and remain relevant in the job market. Being out of the workforce for longer makes it harder and harder to dive back in.

National is aspirational for Kiwis. It’s important we’re all able to live happy and independent lives, and pursue a brighter future. We want Kiwis creating opportunities for them and their families. We know that children in households where parents work go on to lead better lives.

The Government isn’t incentivising work, with the number of sanctions down by more than 22% since September 2017.  It’s important to remember that sanctions are only imposed when someone fails to turn up for a job interview or work obligations several times. They are, and always have been, a last resort.

The Government has repeatedly claimed that one of its main priorities is combatting child poverty. The increase in hardship grants shows that it’s simply getting tougher for families, not easier. Kiwis are struggling, and Labour has no clear plan.

New Zealanders can’t afford this Government.

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