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Welfare Should Lead To Jobs, Not Prison - ACT

Figures released today showing up to 93% of the country's prison inmates were on a benefit before their incarceration add more weight to ACT's call for the focus of welfare to be on getting people into real jobs.

ACT Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman made the comment today after Corrections Minister Clem Simich released figures showing that 3882 out of 4203 male inmates, or 93%, were on an unemployment or other benefit before they went to prison. Out of 245 female inmates, 227, also 93%, had been on a benefit.

"89% of the male inmates and 91% of the female inmates were recorded as 'unemployed' when they went to prison.

Mr Simich released the information in answer to a question from Muriel Newman.

"These figures show the vital importance of New Zealanders supporting themselves in real jobs and not having to rely on a benefit. They confirm that the anger, frustration and low self esteem of being out of work week after week is feeding our prison rolls.

"Welfare should lead to jobs, not prison.

"Education and skills for people to be able to do the jobs they need must be one focus for Government. But on the flip side Government has to make it easy for businesses to employ people.

"Job opportunities are being stolen by high taxes, bureaucracy and red tape. To help New Zealanders into real jobs Government has to get off the backs of our employers and businesses.

"This decade alone, New Zealand has enacted more than 1600 pieces of legislation and more than 3600 regulations affecting business.

"As long as that is the case, the frustration of being out of work will continue to feed our prisons, prisoners who have done their time will continue to return to their communities where there is nothing for them to do and the country will continue to groan under the weight of social welfare spending," said Muriel Newman.

ENDS

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