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Invalid benefit for over-16s tops 80,000

Judith Collins MP National Party Welfare Spokeswoman

30 October 2007

Invalid benefit for over-16s tops 80,000

An incredible 80,161 people aged over 16 are now collecting the invalid benefit, with the number of those on the sickness benefit also continuing to rise, says National's Welfare spokeswoman, Judith Collins.

"This is more bad news and yet another signal that Labour is refusing to take this issue seriously, despite its series of programmes aimed at addressing the problem.

"Sickness beneficiaries now total 49,542.

"Combined sickness and invalid beneficiaries make up 5% of the working-aged population and are by far the largest group of beneficiaries. It is clearly a major concern.

"Even though the Ministry of Social Development website states that the sickness benefit is meant to be for short-term temporary illness, we know that half of the people on the sickness benefit have been on it for more than a year, thousands for several years, and some for more than 10 years.

"That suggests there isn't a great deal of monitoring or reassessment going on.

"The longer people are on benefits the more likely they are to lose the confidence they need to participate in the workforce.

"A National Government would ensure that those sickness and invalid beneficiaries who are able to work, are regularly assessed to ensure that all assistance towards getting them back into the workforce is being provided."

ENDS


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