Beneficiaries—Statistics 7. ALFRED NGARO (National) to the Minister for Social Development: What reports has she received regarding the number of New Zealanders who are benefit-dependent, in particular those relating to sole parents?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY (Minister for Social Development): Under this Government, the number of people on welfare for this quarter is the lowest it has been since 2008. The latest benefit figures released last week show that there are now over 10,000 fewer people on welfare compared with September last year, and more than 70 percent of them are sole parents. We know that sole parents who go on benefit, particularly in their teens, do have the highest lifetime cost of any group on welfare and are more likely to stay on welfare. The reduction in the number of sole parents on benefit extends across all ages, and this is indeed a positive trend.
Alfred Ngaro: What are the Government’s priorities for ensuring we move New Zealanders who are on benefits into work over the next 3 years?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: We believe that the best way out of poverty is through work, and that is why we have set ambitious targets to reduce long-term welfare dependency. As part of this programme we will progress legislation extending the Youth Service approach to under-20s. This will see these young people working with a dedicated provider to deliver intensive support and guidance as well as budgeting support and help paying their bills. This Government believes that the welfare system should provide a safety net for those in genuine need and that people are better (uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing) off in work. This is particularly the case for our youngest New Zealanders, who deserve to be backed rather than left to sit on welfare.
Sue Moroney: How many sole parents have simply been transferred from sole parent support on to a different category of benefit over the same period?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: I do not have any figures on that, but I do not believe that this Government is in the habit of the previous Labour Government of merely shifting people around when it comes to benefit numbers. We are working to make sure that people get off benefit and into work, and, what is more, we are succeeding.
Sue Moroney: I seek leave to table a document showing that the number of sole parents who have been transferred on to job seeker support was about 20,000 over that period.
Mr SPEAKER: I need the source of the document.
Sue Moroney: The source of the document is theNew Zealand Herald.
Mr SPEAKER: No, I will not be putting the leave.
Tolley should have clarified that sole parents whose youngest child is 14 or over were moved onto the Jobseeker benefit as they have full-time work requirements. However the number of sole parents on any benefit is still lower now than in 2008. That's the point.
And Moroney's question based on a newspaper article was actually irrelevant and a waste of a supplementary. Fewer sole parents are on welfare - period. That'll be why the Greens left it alone.
But good on Tolley for re-stating what used to be the Clark/Cullen position:
We believe that the best way out of poverty is through work