Benefit numbers and emergency grants increasing under this Government.
It’s becoming clear that the Labour-led Government’s idea of being ‘kind’ and ‘caring’ simply means throwing more money at a problem and hoping it goes away. The idea of incentivising work, and promoting a pathway that is proven to provide a better quality of life, simply doesn’t register.
That approach is something reflected in the latest benefits statistics. What they show is that, since coming into power, this Government has seen 15,000 more Kiwis reliant on a jobseeker benefit.
The jobseeker benefit is for people who can work but aren’t, for whatever reason. Under National, we required those on this benefit to prove they were actively seeking work in order to continue receiving state support.
The fact there are now so many more people claiming this benefit is proof the new government is no longer enforcing those requirements. The number of sanctions is down by more than 22% since September 2017, and it’s important to remember that they are only imposed as a last resort for those who consistently fail to take their obligations seriously.
Labour’s poor policies have seen the cost of living dramatically increase. Rents are up an average of $50 a week, there are more taxes on petrol, and electricity prices are set to rise. Incomes aren’t going as far as they used to, and despite employers crying out for new workers there are thousands more people receiving a jobseeker benefit.
Of course, there will always be people who need short-term assistance. The benefit is an important safety net for New Zealanders who fall on hard times, and that is exactly how it should be used, to give a helping hand in times of need.
But we know that long-term reliance on benefits provides poor outcomes. It’s important for people to upskill, develop professionally and remain relevant in the job market. Being out of the workforce for longer makes it harder to dive back in.
National is aspirational for Kiwis. It’s important we’re all able to live happy and independent lives, and pursue a brighter future. We want Kiwis creating opportunities for themselves and their families, as we know that children in households where parents work go on to lead better lives.
The Government has repeatedly claimed that one of its main priorities is combatting child poverty. The increase in hardship grants, with over half a million of them since this government took power, shows that it’s simply getting tougher for families, not easier. Kiwis are struggling, and Labour has no plan.
New Zealanders, more than ever, can’t afford this Government.