New Zealand Labour Party

More beneficiaries heading to jail, fewer to study

The latest quarterly benefit figures show a rising number of beneficiaries have left the benefit because they have gone to prison, while fewer are going into study, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni.

“According to recent figures, in the three years to March 2017 there were 38 per cent fewer beneficiaries leaving the benefit to go into fulltime study.

“The Minister just told the House that 13.7 per cent of beneficiaries head into full time study in the March 2017 quarter, but the fact is that in March 2014 18.4 per cent of beneficiaries were moving into study. That’s not a trend to be proud of.

“At the same time there has been a 42 per cent increase in the number of people who have left a benefit because they have gone to prison.

“People are becoming more desperate as the Government continues to try to push people off the benefit and sanction them for minor indiscretions.

“Instead of making it easier for parents and other beneficiaries to participate in study and work toward better employment, the Government has blocked vital pathways for people to try to build better lives for them and their families.

“This Government is so focused on implementing a failing and non-aspirational social investment approach that statistics now trump real lives and ambitions.

“National’s Ministers praise the drop in benefit numbers despite the fact that increasing numbers of beneficiaries are heading straight for the lock-up instead of the exercise books.

“The Government is ignoring the long-term outcomes for beneficiaries, creating significant costs and damage to New Zealand society.

“Labour is committed to providing real support to New Zealanders facing hardship so they can have a better future, rather than a life off the benefit and in jail,” says Carmel Sepuloni.