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Select Committee hears of jobs success

18th June 2008 Media Statement

Select Committee hears of jobs success

The Government's focus on jobs continues to generate significant benefits for all New Zealanders.

"The Social Services Select Committee heard that under the Labour led government, New Zealand now has unemployment rates that are the sixth lowest in the OECD at less than four percent for almost four years," said Ruth Dyson, Minister for Social Development.

"The memory of rampant unemployment under National is now almost forgotten, with 345,000 more people in employment since December 1999. The number on unemployment benefit continues to fall - with over 1,500 people moving off the unemployment benefit in the last two months, from 19,034 at the end of March to 17,465 at the end of May. The number on Sickness Benefits in the last twelve months to May declined by 1,542 while we continue to provide the right services, support, and opportunities for those on the Invalids Benefit, so they can move into work where this is appropriate.

"But the job of helping people into the workforce continues. We know that many people on benefits want to work and can - with the right support.

"Our Labour-led government has focused on getting support and services in place to help people prepare for, make the transition to, and stay in work. Working for Families has made sure that work pays by increasing the incentives to work. Working New Zealand also continues to streamline rules and eligibility criteria, making the benefit system easier to understand and more transparent for clients," said Ms Dyson.

The committee were told that there have also been significant savings as a result in the decrease of benefit numbers. In the 10 months to April 2008 the reduction in expenditure on Unemployment Benefit for 2007/08 has been $173 million. The estimated reduction in expenditure for 2008/09 is expected to exceed $230 million.

"These significant changes have allowed the Ministry of Social Development to redistribute resources to better reflect new demands and requirements. One significant change has been the ability to redeploy staff to other areas.

"I am proud of the government's record in getting New Zealanders into work and making that transition easier with excellent support, and I wonder why Judith Collins is unable to celebrate this achievement," said Ms Dyson.

ENDS

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