Friday, February 20, 2015

More ambitious targets for welfare reduction announced - but not by Tolley

According to Bill English in parliament yesterday:

We are extending the target to reduce welfare dependency beyond those who are somewhere near ready for work to people on all main benefits, including those who may not have worked for some time.
The new targets are detailed here:

Mrs Bennett said the new targets are:
Result 1 -  A 25 per cent reduction (from 295,000 people as at June 2014 to 220,000 as at June 2018) in the total number of people receiving main benefits and a $13 billion reduction in the long-term cost of benefit dependence, as measured by an accumulated Actuarial Release, by June 2018.
This replaces the current target of a 30 per cent reduction - 78,000 people to 55,000 people – in the number of working-age recipients of Jobseeker Support who have continually received benefits for more than 12 months...
Mrs Bennett said the change to the welfare reduction target recognised that many people who were not on Jobseeker Support also wanted to work and they deserved the same levels of support as jobseekers to do that.
“We know that around 90 per cent of people who went on benefits aged 16 or 17 also lived in benefit-dependent homes as children. This reinforces the urgency and importance of getting people in to work to improve their circumstances, and to help break the cycle of inter-generational welfare dependence.”

 Give the actuarial work that confirmed the deep dependency lies mainly amongst beneficiaries NOT on the Jobseeker benefit, the original target was senseless and thoroughly unambitious. The new one represents a much bigger number (despite the percentage change being confusingly lower).

To put 220,000 into some sort of context, since the late eighties, the lowest the total number of people on working age benefits has been was 264,000 in 2007.

(As an aside I am wondering why the current Minister for MSD, Anne Tolley, wasn't involved in announcing the new target. Seems odd. Other new targets were announced by respective Ministers.)

Update: Something was nagging in my memory about these numbers not being new. They are of course what National promised pre-election.From their 'plan':