(National Party media release)

New official data shows Labour has failed to address the rise in benefit dependency, says National’s Social Development and Employment spokesperson Louise Upston.

“Despite record job vacancies, with businesses across New Zealand crying out for staff, there are still 50,000 more people receiving the Jobseeker benefit than when Labour took office five years ago.

“This includes 11,200 more people under the age of 25, the group who should be able to find employment in an economy suffering labour shortages in almost every sector.

“Of most concern is the number of people who have been on Jobseeker for more than a year, which is 55 per cent higher than in 2017.

“It becomes harder to reconnect with the workforce the longer someone spends on a benefit, and businesses who can’t find staff are unable to operate at full capacity.

“Clearly something has gone wrong with Labour’s approach to welfare. The Government needs to be doing far more to help people stuck on Jobseeker long-term to overcome whatever barriers they face to getting into paid work.

“But for some reason, this Labour Government seems content to just passively allow thousands of New Zealanders to languish on the benefit without any direction, support, or consequences.

“Accountability must exist in the welfare system so that people who can work, do.

“New Zealanders expect obligations to find work are enforced, and consequences are imposed when these obligations are not met.

“National believes that every Kiwi deserves the independence, choices and opportunities a job provides.

“Yet with worker shortages across the country, Labour is frittering away a golden opportunity to connect those on a benefit with job vacancies, and is instead creating a far bigger social and economic problem down the road.    

“If Labour can’t get people off welfare and into work now, when will they ever be able to?”

And businesses are crying out for staff!