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Key dislikes success

28 August 2006

Key dislikes success

Social Development Minister David Benson-Pope said today that National's criticisms of departmental spending were essentially an attack on the Government's success at moving people off benefit and into work.

"Unemployment Benefit levels are at their lowest for 24 years, and have fallen 74% since the Labour-led Government took office in 1999," Mr Benson-Pope said.

"Overall benefit numbers have fallen by 30%. This has happened because Labour has invested in quality in the public sector, giving staff the tools to bring down the benefit numbers that rose under National."

"In real terms, departmental expenditure was less in 2005/06 than in 1999/2000, rising by less than the rate of inflation," Mr Benson-Pope said.

"In addition, since 2002 the Ministry has launched many family-focused initiatives, like Working for Families, Youth Transitions Services, and SKIP. These wouldn't be possible if we followed National's policy of tax cuts for the rich."

"The decrease in benefit numbers since 1999 has freed up resources for more intensive case management for people who face significant barriers to work," Mr Benson-Pope said.

"This has a huge return to the taxpayer. In 2006, the Government is paying out $1.2 billion less in benefits per year than we did in 1999. According to Mr Key's figures, we're spending less than a third of that per year on total working-age benefit administration."

"Mr Key's creative accounting confirms that neither he nor his Party is fit to manage the economy. New Zealand simply cannot afford his false economics and their accompanying social costs, which we saw in the 90s and from which we are now recovering," Mr Benson-Pope said.

ENDS

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