“Healthy people claiming employment benefits long-term will soon find it tougher to evade work,” says ACT spokesperson for Social Development and Employment Dr Parmjeet Parmar.

“ACT’s coalition agreement secured a commitment to implement sanctions, including electronic money management, for beneficiaries who can work but refuse to take agreed steps to find a job.”

“Importantly, this policy works as a lever to deal with the persistent minority of people who opt to remain on a benefit long-term even when they are in a position to work.

“Over 351,000 working-age New Zealanders were receiving a main benefit as of June 2023 – that’s more than one-in-ten working age New Zealanders. And, pre-COVID, 71 percent of main benefit recipients had been on welfare continuously for more than a year.

“The worst impact is on children, with 211,617 children living in benefit dependent households at last count. These children have a bleaker future than others, facing worse outcomes on nearly every indicator.

“Electronic Income Management has been successfully trialed in Australia. It issues an electronic card with tracked spending and restrictions on alcohol, gambling, and tobacco expenditure. Almost all of the benefit comes in this form, with a small amount left in discretionary cash. It has been shown to improve child well-being by reducing spending on harmful habits and increasing spending on children.

“I’m proud to say ACT is taking action against long-term reliance on welfare and its impact on the well-being and morale of so many New Zealanders and their children.”

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