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New benefit category numbers released

Hon Paula Bennett

Minister for Social Development

Associate Minister of Housing

16 July 2013 Media Statement        

New benefit category numbers released 

The latest quarterly benefit figures released include both the new categories effective from July 15 and the old categories for comparison.

“We’re continuing with a transparent approach to reporting benefit numbers as we said we would,” says Social Development Minister Paula Bennett.

“There are currently 309,782 people on benefits in New Zealand, a reduction from 310,146 the previous quarter and down from 320,041 the year prior.”

“That’s a reduction of more than 10,000 on welfare over the past 12 months and I am particularly pleased that 5,600 of them are sole parents.”

From July 15 new benefit categories and expectations apply to beneficiaries, including rules around drug testing, outstanding arrest warrants and new social obligations for parents.

While the most significant reforms take effect from this week, changes already implemented are evident in the reduced benefit figures.

"Expectations and obligations are clearer and have a much greater work focus, with more support to help people move off welfare into work," says Mrs Bennett.

Three new main categories; Jobseeker Support, Sole Parent Support and Supported Living Payment replace the previous seven benefit types. This is in addition to the Youth Services (Young Parent Payment and Youth Payment) implemented in 2012.

Those on benefit include the following:

Jobseeker Support  128,608
Sole Parent Support82897
Supported Living Payment91862
Youth Payment and Young Parent Payment1180

Under the old system that would translate to:

Unemployment Benefit48,438
DPB sole parents90,801
DPB caring for sick and infirm8084
Sickness Benefit59,127
Invalid’s Benefit83,778
Widow’s Benefit4754
Unemployment Benefit Training4922

The largest reduction in benefit numbers applies to the new Sole Parent Support category, down by more than 1,500 in the quarter to June and down more than 5,600 in a year.

Under the old system, the DPB for sole parents, (which also includes those with children over 14 years old) reduced by more than 7,300 in the year to June.

Minister Bennett says she’s impressed with this reduction which follows new obligations for sole parents to be in part time work when their youngest turns five, and full time work when their youngest is fourteen years old. 

This change has triggered new supports for sole parents, including one to one support for those at risk of long term dependence and a work bonus for those who choose to move into work earlier than required.

“I have absolute respect for those sole parents and I’m proud of the efforts of Work and Income staff who help sole parents prepare for and find work.”

“Statistics show that 50 per cent of sole parents in New Zealand do work. It is achievable with support and children are better off in working households.”

The number of Jobseekers is down by 176 on the quarter and almost 6,000 on the year to June.

“While the economic recovery is a slow one, we continue to see positive indicators. People continue to find work and I have real admiration for every one of those New Zealanders.”

“In the last quarter alone more than 21,600 went off welfare into paid work.”

“Benefit numbers this June are the lowest they’ve been at this time of year since prior to 2009,” says Mrs Bennett.

The quarterly benefit figures are available at: www.msd.govt.nz/about-msd-and-our-work/publications-resources/statistics/benefit/benefit-factsheet-changes-2013.html

ENDS

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