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Benefit numbers up, but support being delivered

Hon Paula Bennett
Minister for Social Development and Employment
Minister of Youth Affairs

11 September 2009
Media Statement

Benefit numbers up, but support being delivered

Social Development and Employment Minister Paula Bennett says the number of New Zealanders on the Unemployment Benefit has risen to 59,151.

The total number of people across all benefits has increased to 323,160. Of those, 106,640 were on the DPB, 55,913 on the Sickness Benefit and 84,902 on the Invalid’s Benefit.

“We’re in a recession, the effect of which is increasing numbers of New Zealanders needing support from the state,” Paula Bennett says.

“Labour seems to have woken up a bit late to the fact that during a recession benefit numbers will go up. Unfortunately, we know that trend will continue.

“From day one this National-led Government has been focused on those needing our help. That's why we introduced ReStart - a targeted programme to help people who have been made redundant. It was obviously never intended to prevent job losses.

“Our new Youth Opportunities package is being very well received. Already nearly 1000 Job Ops have been created, the bulk in retail, hospitality and construction.

“In addition to that, our “triage” rate in the last week of August was 32.4%, up from 29.3% four weeks ago. That means people who thought they would need to go on a benefit are generally finding work and not needing state assistance.

“In that same week, there were 851 new vacancies listed at Work and Income, up from 728 for the same week last year. That tells us that jobs are still out there.

“Frontline staff are doing great work in matching people to jobs as quickly as possible even with the increase in people coming through Work and Income’s doors. We’ve boosted staff numbers by more than 300 to make sure that continues.

“We’re also seeing the average number of New Zealanders joining the Unemployment Benefit each week has slowed from a high of 1300 two months ago to about 900.

“That doesn’t mean we are complacent. Every person out of a job and looking for work has a family behind them who’s depending on them. We will continue to look for ways to support them – with a firm focus on getting them into a new job.

“Annette King needed to wake up to the realities of the recession over a year ago, but instead her Labour Government was complacent. This Government will continue to work on practical measures that are making a difference.”

ENDS

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