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Labour up to old tricks on teenage unemployment

Judith Collins
MP National Party Welfare Spokeswoman

1 April 2008

Labour up to old tricks on teenage unemployment

Labour appears to be up to its old tricks in manipulating benefit figures in a desperate bid to spin a good news story, says National's Welfare spokeswoman, Judith Collins.

Ms Collins says papers obtained under the Official Information Act suggest that Labour has transferred large numbers of 18- and 19-year-olds from the unemployment benefit to other benefits in a last-ditch attempt to try to meet the goals of the Mayor's Taskforce for Jobs.

The Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the taskforce in 2002. A stated goal was to have all 15- to 19-year-olds in appropriate education, work or industry training by 2007.

"The documents show that between September 2006 and December 2007, the number of 18- and 19-year-olds on the sickness benefit increased by an alarming 18%. That compares to an increase for all working-age people of 3.3%.

"The number of 18- and 19-year-olds on the invalid benefit increased by 8.7% and the number of teenagers on the DPB increased by 8.2% compared to a 2.4% drop in the number of people on the DPB overall.

"It just doesn't follow that a decrease in the number of young people on the unemployment benefit should be offset by increases in other benefits.

"The Household Labour Force data confirms there are still around 25,000 15- to 19-year-olds out of work - the same as when Labour took office. Some 13,000 are on benefits.

"It is clear that this is nothing but an exercise in creative accounting from a Minister and Ministry that have no answers for their record of failure in reducing teenage unemployment."

ENDS

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