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Turner: hard figures needed on beneficiary rise

Turner: hard figures needed on beneficiary rise

There needs to be more transparency surrounding the movement of people between benefits, United Future social services spokeswoman Judy Turner said today, as a 17.3 percent jump in the number of sickness beneficiaries goes largely unexplained.

"We have the situation where there has been a 17.3 percent increase in the number of sickness beneficiaries since 1999, and a 7.4 percent jump over the past year alone, and yet the Minister of Social Services and Employment's explanation for this seems to be purely anecdotal," Mrs Turner said.

"These figures should be of serious and immediate concern, and one has to ask that if people are not, as Steve Maharey said in the House today, moving from the unemployment benefit, just where are they coming from?"

In response to questions from Mrs Turner, Mr Maharey suggested that the increase in sickness beneficiaries comes partly from a reduction in ACC claimants.

ACC has previously stated that the reduction in claimants was due to effective rehabilitation and by new medical and work capacity assessments.

"That would imply that it's getting people back to work, not merely shifting them along to another benefit," Mrs Turner said.

"There needs to be some hard facts and figures, and without those it's hard to see how the Government can address such issues, where the doling out of public money is concerned.

"I don't believe the average Kiwi is going to swallow the line that such a large increase is just the result of a 'sicker' society."

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