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Work And Income Denial Ill-Informed

Media Release

Work And Income Denial Ill-Informed

Friday, June 13, 2008

In a letter to today's Dominion Post, Work and Income Deputy chief executive, Patricia Reade, said there is no direct link between falling sickness benefit numbers and the number of people receiving an invalid's benefit.

Welfare commentator and ACT Hutt South Candidate, Lindsay Mitchell, says this is incorrect.

"Every year around 5 - 6,000 people transfer from the sickness benefit to the invalid's benefit. At least this was the trend until 2005. Is Ms Reade saying that this is no longer the case?"

The Work and Income Deputy chief executive also claims there is no link between the number of people receiving an unemployment benefit and a sickness or invalid's benefit. She calls that, "...another urban myth."

But according to Mitchell, "Between 1998 and 2005 an average of 12,000 people moved from the unemployment benefit to the sickness benefit each year. Has that stream also dried up? Can Work and Income release evidence of this?"

People are constantly moving between benefits and while the overall drop in unemployment benefit numbers is not solely due to movement onto sickness and invalid's benefits, it is a factor. To claim there is no link between benefits is absurd. The very fact of being on a benefit can trigger behavioural responses which then necessitate the need to be transferred to another benefit. For instance being on an unemployment benefit long-term can cause people to develop depression, one of the major reasons for the rapid growth in incapacity benefits. Being on an unemployment benefit and relieved of the need to work can lead to people developing alcohol and drug addictions. This then necessitates a move onto a sickness or invalid benefit.

Research that appears in the Ministry of Social Development's own journal states, ....Through disillusion with their prospects as job seekers, or as a result of being moved by the employment services or by benefit administrators, [people] progressively moved on to incapacity-related benefits.

Denying a link between benefits is playing with words. Work and Income must think that most people are just plain stupid to offer this kind of nonsense.


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