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The Hidden Casualties Of Labour's Welfare Agenda

Katherine Rich MP
National Party Welfare Spokeswoman

03 October 2003

The hidden casualties of Labour's welfare agenda

New figures show the ranks of the long term unemployed have grown by 50% in four years while more Kiwis than ever before appear to be suffering from serious sickness and injury, says National Party Welfare spokeswoman Katherine Rich.

She's commenting on a detailed analysis of welfare trends, the first such work done for more than two years.

"Despite low unemployment overall, there's been startling growth in some benefits and it's now clear some members of our community are being left behind despite the strong economy," Mrs Rich says.

There has been a dramatic increase in the number of long term unemployed under Labour. In 1999 there were 4,349 people who'd been on the unemployment benefit for more than five years. In 2001 the figure climbed to 4,750 and by this year the number was up to 6,532.

"That's up by 50% at the same time New Zealand is supposedly enjoying the best economic conditions in a generation!

According to figures provided by Work and Income the number of people drawing the invalids benefit rose from 51,284 in June 1999, to 59,908 in 2001 and climbed again to 68,507 in 2003.

"That's a staggering 33% increase in just four years, while the number drawing the sickness benefit is up 21% from 33,022 to 39,902 in the same period.

"Is New Zealand really suffering from an epidemic of sickness and injury?"

"The National Party wants to break this culture of dependency and it is currently considering a discussion paper, from which policy will be drawn," says Mrs Rich.

"We refuse to accept Labour's philosophy of acceptable and inevitable failure, National does not believe anyone is hopeless.

"Instead of handing out the cheques and buying the votes of grateful beneficiaries, Labour should be doing better and working harder for those that need our help the most," says Mrs Rich.

Ends

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