6. Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA (National—Maungakiekie) to the Minister for Social
Development: What impact have the Government’s welfare reforms had to date?
Hon PAULA BENNETT (Minister for Social Development): The Government’s welfare reforms are seeing real gains for New Zealanders. Future Focus, implemented in September 2012 as a precursor to our current major reforms, introduced clear obligations and greater fairness to the benefit system. Since Future Focus started, more than 171,000 benefits have been cancelled because people found work, which is a good result in spite of a tough local market and a global economic recession. Over the last 2 years benefit numbers are now reducing by 165 net every week, on average, which equates to about 34 people every working day.
Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga: What changes has she seen as a result of the annual reapplication requirement?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: One simple policy change requiring unemployment beneficiaries to reapply if they remain on the benefit after a year has seen more than 21,400 people come off that benefit, with savings of more than $74 million to the taxpayer.
Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga: What results have there been to date by increasing expectations and obligations for those receiving benefits?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: Prior to National’s Future Focus changes, 79 percent of beneficiaries had no work-test obligations at all. Because of Future Focus, it is now around 64 percent and will reduce further with the changes coming through in the second welfare bill. There is no doubt at all that expectations mean that we see better results for people.
On current numbers that's 217,000 working-age people with no obligation to become self-supporting.
At least the percentage is reducing.