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Unemployment and DPB fall in every region

20 July 2005
Media Statement

Quarterly benefit figures released

Unemployment and DPB fall in every region

The number of working-aged New Zealanders on benefits has fallen in every region in the country over the past year as unemployment benefit numbers reached a 19 year low. DPB numbers have also fallen in every region as the number of sole parents on the DPB reached an 11 year low.

In addition, the rate of growth in Sickness and Invalid's beneficiary numbers has fallen by over 50 per cent in the year to June 30.

Speaking at the launch of Work and Income's new regional plans, Social Development and Employment Minister Steve Maharey said the continued fall in benefit numbers was a further endorsement of the Labour-led government's welfare reforms.

"We've reformed welfare, helped nearly 100,000 New Zealanders off benefits and into work and reduced poverty at the same time," Steve Maharey said.

Highlights from the quarterly figures include:

- There are 50,037 people on the unemployment benefit – a 66 per cent fall since 1999 and a 26 per cent fall in just one year
- Overall numbers of working-aged New Zealanders on benefits is down to 290,466 – a 17 year low and a 25 per cent fall since 1999
- The steady decline in DPB numbers continues with the number of sole parents on the DPB falling to 97,903 – a 12 year low
- The growth rate for Sickness Benefit numbers has fallen from 11 per cent to 3 per cent in the year to June 30
- There are 98,500 fewer people on the unemployment benefit than there were in 1999

"Between Budget 2003 and Budget 2005, the fall in benefit numbers has reduced forecast benefit expenditure by $3.3 billion," Steve Maharey said.

"The success in helping New Zealanders off benefits is even more striking when compared to the record of the National government in the 90s. Cutting benefits, instituting work for the dole and work-testing DPB clients did nothing to reduce welfare dependency.

"In fact, the number of beneficiaries grew by 20 per cent under National, child poverty hit 34 per cent and 165,000 people were unemployed as late as 1999. It's time for Don Brash to explain how re-implementing National's failed policies won't lead to the same results."

ENDS

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