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Teenagers Move From Dole To DPB

Media Release

Lindsay Mitchell ACT Candidate for Hutt South

Teenagers Move From Dole To DPB
July 22, 2005

New research confirms that the dole is a major gateway to state- dependent single parenthood. At least a third* of the single parents currently on welfare first received a benefit before they were twenty.

Figures obtained under the Official Information Act by ACT Hutt South candidate, Lindsay Mitchell, reveal the vast majority of these single parents did not start on the domestic purposes benefit. Only 10 percent began on the DPB or EMA (the junior DPB for under 18s). Three quarters began their welfare careers on the dole or independent youth benefit.

"This news will not surprise the many parents who have fought against their teenager leaving home courtesy of WINZ, " Mitchell said. "Teenage girls without educational qualifications, skills or a job have little to lose by becoming pregnant."

"The government providing an income for kids to hang around, with nothing better to do than get pregnant, is a gross intrusion into family life."

The situation is worse for Maori and Pacific people. They account for sixty percent of single parents who first entered the welfare system as a teenager.

"New Zealanders support a safety net but these findings prove welfare has gone well beyond what people want it to be. It is robbing our children, and the children they bear, of realising their potential."

"It's time to recognise we've got it badly wrong. Labour, along with their support party United Future, have done nothing to make the benefit system less attractive or accessible to youngsters. They removed work- testing from the DPB, stand-down periods and repealed the 'work for the dole' scheme."

"Real welfare reform is matter of extreme urgency. ACT is the one party that has constantly called for change. National have tried before but under their governance benefit numbers grew. We need real reforms like strict time-limits and limited income support on condition a teenager stays at home and continues their education."

"If people care about this issue the way I do then I would ask them for just one vote - their party vote."

*The true figure is likely to be much higher but the Ministry of Social Development cannot supply accurate electronic information pre- January 1993.


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