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Beneficiary debt reaches all time high

Judith Collins MP
National Party Welfare Spokeswoman

23 March 2008

Beneficiary debt reaches all time high

Beneficiary debt has reached an all-time high and all Ruth Dyson can do is offer excuses for her Government’s woeful record on this issue, says National’s Welfare spokeswoman, Judith Collins.

“The latest figures reveal beneficiary debt now stands at $763.8 million. That’s a $300 million increase since Labour took office. Labour’s own figures confirm that almost half of all working-age beneficiaries are in debt to Work and Income.

“Former beneficiaries owe $426.1 million while current beneficiaries owe $337.7 million. The debt owed by current beneficiaries increased by $15 million in just six months.

“The debt owed by women on the DPB has increased from $67 million in 1996 to almost $120 million today, even though fewer women are now receiving this benefit.

“In an environment of increasing demand for foodbanks, and when prices for things like food and petrol are going through the roof, Labour should be providing sound budgeting advice for beneficiaries. Instead, it is standing by and allowing beneficiary debt to spiral out of control.

“In 2000, Labour abolished the budgeting referral system that National set up in 1995. Now the Ministry of Social Development cannot even advise how many, if any, beneficiaries have received any budgeting advice.

“This sort of inaction can only lead to more beneficiaries in more debt, especially as Labour’s economic legacy starts to bite.”

Ends

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