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Labour fails teenage beneficiaries

Judith Collins MP
National Party Welfare Spokeswoman

13 December 2007

Labour fails teenage beneficiaries

Labour has broken its promise to get teenagers into some form of education or work, says National’s Welfare spokeswoman, Judith Collins.

“That promise formed the basis of the Mayors’ Taskforce for Jobs, signed in October 2002. At the time, Steve Maharey said ‘by 2007, all 15 to 19-year-olds will be engaged in appropriate education, training, or other options that will lead to long-term economic independence and well-being’.

“Last month, I revealed that the ‘by 2007’ part of the goal had vanished from the Ministry of Social Development’s annual report, and today, the Minister for Social Development and Employment has advised that the 13,065 teenagers on benefits would not be counted for the purposes of measuring the success of the goal.

“What part of all 15 to 19-year-olds does Labour not understand?

“Instead of fulfilling its commitment, the Government has decided to shift the goalposts to hide the fact it has failed miserably.

“When the Government signed the memorandum of understanding in 2002 there were 25,000 15 to 19-year-olds unemployed. Five years on, the September 2007 quarterly survey revealed that there were 26,100.

“Labour has thrown millions of dollars at this. In the 2003 Budget, Steve Maharey announced a $56 million plan to get young people into education, training, or work. A year later, he announced that $57 million would go towards ensuring all 15 to 19-year-olds would be in education, work, or industry training in 2007.

“The fact is that 2007 is drawing to a close and there are still 26,000 young Kiwis who are simply drifting. Half of them are on benefits.

“It is an appalling waste of potential and it’s time Labour quit hiding the facts.”

ENDS

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