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Minister Desperate Over Welfare Challenge

Minister Desperate Over Welfare Challenge

Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey today showed his desperation about any challenge to Labour's soft-on-welfare growth strategy, by criticising National's welfare reform plan before it has even been released, ACT New Zealand Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman said today.

"Under Labour, the cost of social welfare benefits has increased more than $1 billion. Further, despite the best economic conditions in a decade, answers to my Parliamentary Questions show that there are still 410,000 working age adults on benefits, supporting 285,000 children," Dr Newman said.

"Since Labour has been in power, 14,000 more people have moved onto the Invalids Benefit, and 5,590 more on the Sickness Benefit.

"It is untenable that, within five years, the numbers on these two benefits will rise to 126,000 - in spite of record amounts of spending on healthcare. This growth in numbers shows, in fact, that too many able-bodied people - who could contribute - are ripping the system off, by getting onto these benefits to avoid working.

"What will Mr Maharey's Ministerial legacy be? He has softened welfare - enabling more and more people to receive benefits, increasing the cost to taxpayers - and ignored benefit fraud detection.

"Unfortunately, for New Zealand, the Minister has chosen to focus on glib statements and hollow promises when he should be introducing the benefit time limits, and 40-hour work week requirements for the able-bodied, which have been so successful in countries committed to honest welfare reform," Dr Newman said.

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