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Saving billions by cancelling benefits

Saving billions by cancelling benefits, but less than half have jobs

Kay Brereton from the Beneficiary Advocacy Federation of New Zealand says “It is frightening to hear that the Minister of Social Development is boasting about the prospective financial savings of the Government's 'Welfare Reforms', when more than half the people whose benefits are cancelled do not have employment.”

“The consequence of the 'Welfare Reform' is clear from this apparent success; as we feared people are being exited from benefit in alarming numbers each week. Figures released by the Minister today state that 3500 people are having their benefits cancelled each week, and of these 1500 have employment, the other 2000 are vaguely referred to as having other reasons.”

“Some people may have left the country, some entered study and some re-partnered, but 2000 people a week? This is what we feared; there are stories of benefits being cancelled when a person was late for their appointment, because they were stuck in a 15 minute queue at the W&I reception, there are people fearing they have to pass a drug test to apply for benefit.”

“Combine this with the statement that the target groups are youth and sole parents and a very concerning picture develops. How many vulnerable youth have lost their benefit, how many children of sole parents have been thrust into deeper poverty by these reforms?”

“The result of the reform appears to be increasing numbers of families on reduced rates of benefit for a series of minor failures, currently most failures are people not getting to a W&I appointment or seminar, rather than turning down an interview or a job.”

“What job seekers need is assistance and encouragement to help build self esteem and confidence to keep seeking employment in a very tough market; what these reforms deliver are more obligations and an increased sanctioning regime.”

“To claim success when more than half of people having their benefits cancelled have no job is frankly unbelievable, and insensitive. I hope however that New Zealanders can see this as a failure of the reforms, especially now that almost everyone has at least one person in their extended whanau on a benefit.”

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