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OECD report shames NZ sickness/invalid numbers

Judith Collins MP
National Party Welfare Spokeswoman

21 December 2007

OECD report shames NZ sickness/invalid numbers

A new OECD report on sickness and invalid benefits lays bare New Zealand’s woeful record when it comes to sickness and invalid benefits, says National’s Welfare spokeswoman, Judith Collins.

“Sickness, Disability and Work: Breaking the Barriers (vol 2) notes that across OECD countries, governments spend twice as much on benefits for people claiming illness and disability as they do on unemployment benefits.

“In New Zealand, expenditure on sickness and invalid benefits, at more than $1.7 billion, is almost three times the expenditure on unemployment benefits.

“The OECD report suggests that more monitoring of short-term illnesses that often turn into long-term claims would be helpful.

“This is very relevant to New Zealand. We know that more than half the people on the sickness benefit have been on it for more than one year even though it is supposed to be for short-term illness.

“The OECD report also questions why, when health has improved, so many people need health-related support.

“It says further reform is necessary so that taking up work always pays.

“This is all good advice, but I suspect it will fall on deaf ears. Labour has ignored this problem for eight years, why would it act now?”


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