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Time Spent On The DPB Nearly Double

Time Spent On The DPB Nearly Double Government's Claims

Campaigners for the abolition of the DPB

Data recently obtained under the Official Information Act reveals that the average time each recipient spends on the DPB is nearing seven years - double what the public has been led to believe.

"We have been repeatedly told by the Minister of Social Development and other Members of Parliament, that the average stay on the DPB is around three and a half years, "says Lindsay Mitchell, petitioner for a Parliamentary review of the DPB. "In fact, the minimum calculable average all-up time spent on the DPB is 6.52 years."

Media reports throughout 2001 quoted Mr Maharey as saying that the average time spent on the DPB was three and a half years. Others in government and even the opposition followed his lead. "Late last year I began to question Mr Maharey about this figure," says Mrs Mitchell. "He subsequently amended his claim by adding the word 'continuous'."

"Because almost half of the 109,000 DPB recipients have been on this benefit more than once, talking about the average continuous stay is misleading, " Mrs Mitchell continues. "Nearly half of all recipients have been on the DPB two, three, four, five or more times."

"So why does the government actively misrepresent the facts?" asks Mitchell. "Has it gone so soft on welfare that it doesn't want to tell the truth about it? By contrast, when the United States reached an unprecedented level of 8 years dependency on their equivalent benefit, they didn't hide the truth. They acted decisively to reform welfare."

"New Zealand's government prefers to peddle misinformation because it wants to justify welfare to the taxpayer. For centre left voters, three and a half years might be acceptable as 'temporary' - six or more is really pushing this benefit beyond the realms of a hand-up."

In August this year the Labour/Alliance government plan to drop the requirements for DPB recipients to find part time work when their youngest child is six and full time when their youngest is fourteen. "The reason for this softening is almost certainly because of lobbying from DPB advocates, feminists, Alliance and the Greens. And of course, we shouldn't overlook the very substantial beneficiary vote involved."

"This is political cynicism at it's worst," concludes Lindsay Mitchell.


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