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National to reduce benefit numbers by 25 per cent

National to reduce benefit numbers by 25 per cent

A re-elected National Government will reduce the number of people on welfare by 25 per cent, with a series of new initiatives to support beneficiaries into work.

“We’re making a difference with stronger expectations and greater support. The plan we’ve set out today allows us to take the next steps to get more New Zealanders off welfare and into work,” says National Party Social Development spokesperson Paula Bennett.

“National is focused on building a stronger economy and creating opportunities for more jobs and higher wages. Jobseekers are in the best position in years to take advantage of New Zealand’s economic growth. We’ll be supporting them with our investment approach and targeting more resources earlier to those who need the most help.

“We will reduce the total number of people receiving a benefit by 75,000 by 2017, including reducing the total number of young people aged between 16 and 24 on benefit by 40 per cent, or around 21,000 people.

“Our aim is to bring benefit numbers down from 295,000 to 220,000 people over the next three years.

“These are ambitious targets, but they are realistic and achievable. Since December 2010, nearly 60,000 people have come off welfare, and over the past two years 30,000 children have gone from living in a benefit-dependent home to a working one.”

Our plan includes:

• Offering incentive payments for beneficiaries who stay in work for a set period of time.
• Offering more childcare support by expanding our Flexible Childcare pilot.
• Making first-time Work and Income assessments more comprehensive so people are directed to the right sort of support from the very start.

“Our target of a 40 per cent reduction of young people on benefit is a bold one, but 53,000 young people aged between 16 and 24 on welfare is too many for a country with prospects like ours,” says Mrs Bennett.

“We have already announced the expansion of our Youth Service to all teen parents and many 18 and 19 years olds. We’re going to put a similar focus on young people aged between 20 and 24 with a series of new measures, so they get the same level of attention as younger beneficiaries.”

New initiatives for young people include:

• Exploring a trial where iwi administer welfare payments to young people, similar to the Youth Service.
• Helping young people get driver’s licences.
• Expanding the successful $3k to Christchurch scheme to other regions needing energetic and motivated workers.
• Investigating a regional Work Skills scheme to get young people on benefit working in the community.

“We’ve already seen welfare numbers dropping by the thousands, and it’s important to keep our foot on the pedal,” says Mrs Bennett.

“We have a comprehensive and ambitious plan for New Zealanders on welfare who, with the right support from a re-elected National Government, can get into meaningful work that helps them and their families get ahead,” she says.

National’s Welfare Reform Policy is available at: http://ntnl.org.nz/1sTds7U

ends

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