Nine years of progress on welfare being undone

After years of improvement under National, benefit numbers are now back to heights last seen during the Global Financial Crisis.

This, at a time when our export prices are at record hights and when employers are crying out for workers.

The latest welfare statistics, released in January, show the number of Kiwis on the dole has risen by an astonishing 27,000 since the Government too office, with almost 150,000 now on the Jobseeker benefit.

That’s an extra 27,000 men and women, and their families, who have lost the opportunity to provide for themselves, who have lost the stimulation and satisfaction of work and all the benefits that work brings.

Under the previous National Government, the country was creating 10,000 jobs a month. Under this Government that’s fallen to just 1000. It’s clear that Kiwis are doing it tough under Labour.

National worked hard to rebuild the economy after the Global Financial Crisis and get Kiwis into jobs. By the time we left office the economy was booming and the number of Kiwis on the dole was at some of the lowest levels ever seen.

This Government has undone all that progress in less than a term, with benefit numbers spiralling out of control on Jacinda Ardern’s watch.

Thousands of vulnerable Kiwis are now also struggling to find jobs with the economy showing sluggish growth and no plan from the Government to deliver the growth New Zealand needs.

This government’s weakening of the rules and sanctions around the welfare system haven’t helped. They have sent the signal that it’s OK to stay on benefits, which is exactly the wrong message to send.

Recent figures obtained by National show many jobseekers now go months without talking to a case manager about employment. That’s completely unacceptable. If the Prime Minister is serious about tackling poverty her Government needs to get the economy moving.

The welfare statistics also show 7000 more young people are waiting in dole queues rather than getting a foot on the career ladder compared to when the Government took office.

It’s important to intervene early and get young people off benefits as quickly as possible to avoid a lifetime of welfare dependence. The Government doesn’t seem to have a plan to do this.

Last year the Government quietly dropped the Prime Minister’s commitment to 4000 Mana in Mahi places for young people with no alternative plan for getting young people into work.

The fact the Government is scaling back its flagship youth employment programme while dole numbers are rising shows it isn’t serious about tackling the root causes of poverty.

National is aspirational for New Zealanders and will set targets to reduce the number of people on benefits. We focus on growing the economy to create more new jobs again, and will do everything possible to encourage everyone into some work.

Our Social Services Discussion Document, which is available on the website, shows we’re the party with the ideas and ambition to get Kiwis back into work.