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English’s grasp of figures lost in translation

Jacinda Ardern
Social Development Spokesperson

9 November 2012

English’s grasp of figures lost in translation

Trying to get political mileage out of ‘lower benefit rates’ when unemployment is at a 13 year high is below the belt, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Jacinda Ardern.

“Bill English’s efforts to congratulate his Government for moving people off benefits would be more convincing if he was able to prove these beneficiaries had moved into work.

“One of my concerns is that New Zealanders eligible for support are going without, or being shuffled around to bolster the Government’s political targets,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“Yesterday in the House, the Finance Minister claimed that; ‘in 1999 there were 150,000 people on the unemployment benefit and today, at a similar rate of unemployment, there are only 50,000 people on the unemployment benefit.

“The Minister can cherry-pick dates and figures, but under Labour the number of New Zealanders receiving an unemployment benefit actually decreased dramatically to 23,856 because people were moving into work. In contrast since his Government took office, numbers have increased again to 50,390.

“He also stated that the number on Sickness Benefits ‘went up strongly under the Labour Government, even when the economy was growing fast. Despite the patchy growth of this recovery, those numbers on benefits are stable or dropping’.

“But again, the number on the Sickness Benefit has gone from 49,440 under Labour to 59,595 under Mr English’s watch.

“The sad reality is these numbers would be much worse if it wasn't for the 6,004 Kiwis who have left the benefit in the 2011/12 year and gone overseas in search of work.

“These are not numbers Bill English should be patting himself on the back for.

“Going on to claim that Paula Bennett's welfare reforms are somehow part of the solution is appalling. Ms Bennett has done nothing but increase work testing and her use of sanctions, which have almost doubled in use since she took office to 57,168.

“This is a Government that is blaming other people for its own failures, it's outrageous. It's time it focused on delivering Kiwis what it promised - jobs,” Jacinda Ardern said.

ENDS

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