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Maharey's Chickens Home To Roost

Maharey's Chickens Home To Roost

ACT New Zealand Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today described Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey's `Jobs Jolt' initiatives as a transparent attempt to pre-empt the inevitable criticism that will come from the rise in unemployment in the Household Labour Force Survey.

"True to form, Mr Maharey is attempting to distract attention from the negative unemployment statistics. Recent information that shows that the number of people who have been registered unemployed over four years has risen 61 percent - to more than 17,000 - since he became Minister," Dr Newman said.

"Equally alarming, the number of Sickness Beneficiaries has breached 40,000 for the first time in New Zealand history. The Minister has single-handedly reversed declining Sickness Benefit numbers by removing it from the Community Wage, making it a standalone benefit once again.

"Across the board, we are seeing a relentless growth in the Invalids Benefit, and the Domestic Purposes Benefit is beginning to trend upwards as well.

"The Minister knows he will be slammed for the figures in the HLFS late this week and, so, is now in damage control mode. He was warned that removing the work test and Community Wage would see rising beneficiary numbers. Yet he has persisted, against all advice, with his soft-on-welfare approach.

"Mr Maharey has prevented New Zealand from taking advantage of strong employment growth over the past three years. Now, with slower growth looming, the Maharey chickens are coming home to roost," Dr Newman said.

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