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Turner reveals hike in benefit 'psych' figures

Turner reveals hike in benefit 'psych' figures

United Future social services spokeswoman Judy Turner today said the Government was ignoring what Helen Clark might well call the "bleeding obvious" in continuing to insist that there is no migration from the sickness benefit to the unemployment benefit.

In producing figures in Parliament today showing an increase in the last three years of the number of sickness beneficiaries claiming the benefit for stress (up 56 percent), other psychological problems (up 58 percent) and depression (up 17 percent), Mrs Turner said there was clearly a problem, whichever way the Government looked at it.

"Short of an unprecedented epidemic of psychological problems, the rise in the number of sickness beneficiaries, and the corresponding fall in the numbers on the unemployment benefit, strongly suggests a flow from one benefit to the other," she said.

"The country got 13,000 new sickness beneficiaries last year - and has seen a 13 percent increase since 2000. The numbers are there, the facts are there, but the Government continues to tell us that red is blue.

"This is a problem and it needs to be dealt with.

"Of course, there will be many genuine cases, but the continuing mantra that there is no problem is simply the Government failing to be a responsible custodian of taxpayer money," Mrs Turner said.

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