Govt fails as beneficiary numbers trend upwards
Labour social welfare spokesperson Steve Maharey today released figures, based on projections in the 1999 budget, which show beneficiary numbers trending upwards despite Government claims to the contrary and despite a long-running campaign to treat beneficiaries as second class citizens.
"The figures show that, despite a forecast short-term fall in the number of people on the Domestic Purposes Benefit, the long term projection is for numbers to rise by 7,000 by the year 2001/02," Mr Maharey said.
"Those accepting an accommodation supplement are also projected to rise substantially from 310,000 to 337,000.
"The figures read as an indictment of Government social policy.
"Any drop in the figures is to be welcomed, but the budget projections show that even the Government's own number-crunchers don't believe National's punitive approach towards beneficiaries will have any long-term positive impact.
"The projections effectively show more people being driven into poverty.
"What is needed is the realisation that the Government's means-tested and targeted income support policies have created a poverty trap which is extremely difficult for beneficiaries to get out of. Despite facing attack from the Government beneficiaries have no other practical option but to stay on a benefit.
"Labour policies, by contrast, will be geared towards increasing the opportunities available to beneficiaries and encouraging those who can to take the opportunity to work their way off the benefit and into a real job and a wage."