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Fewer Beneficiaries Supported Despite More Staff

Data released to National shows a 33 per cent decrease in the number of people on benefits receiving individual support under Labour despite 1,500 additional ‘frontline staff’, National’s Social Development & Employment spokesperson Louise Upston says.

“Almost 91,000 people benefited from individual case management support in June 2017, however this fell to just under 61,000 by March 2022 – a decline of around 30,000 that started well before Covid-19.

“This is despite MSD hiring 1,500 additional ‘frontline staff’ under Labour.

“With 170,000 people on the Jobseeker benefit at the same time as chronic staff shortages throughout New Zealand, I have been asking the Government what they are doing to connect the people on the Jobseeker benefit with the widespread job vacancies.

“Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni has stated, on no less than 19 occasions, that Labour’s spending on additional case managers at MSD is the solution. But, clearly, the data tells a different story.

“Labour is content to allow more people to languish on benefits without helping them back on their own two feet.

“In fact, Labour is even going as far as providing people with incentives to stay out of work longer than they otherwise would. Labour’s proposed income insurance scheme would encourage workers to stay out of work for longer, trapped by the golden handcuffs of 80 per cent pay with no obligations.

“Unlike Labour, National knows the only long-term path out of hardship is through a job.

“No New Zealander is too hard to help. That’s why we will implement job-coaching and incentives for under 25-year-olds to get them into work.

“When businesses are desperate for staff, Labour is squandering a golden opportunity to shift people off benefit and into work.”

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