“The Government is increasing dependency on welfare with increases to the benefit while businesses struggle to get ahead and employ more people,” says ACT’s Social Development spokesperson Karen Chhour.

“On Friday, benefits will increase by an average of $20 a week. Instead of seeing benefits as the solution, Labour needs to get to the root of poverty by growing the economy and fixing our education system.

“Labour is making it harder to employ people and easier to remain on a benefit.

“Small businesses are being stung with minimum wage increases that outstrip productivity, so-called ‘fair pay’ agreements that will bog businesses down in red tape, a new tax to pay for employment insurance, more sick leave that will cost businesses $1 billion, and another public holiday that will cost them $450 million. No wonder so many business owners are giving up.

“Meanwhile, we have 266,736 people who’ve been on a benefit for more than 12 months – an increase of 63,786 since 2017.

“Slowly but surely, Labour is transforming welfare in a way that will increase dependency by making benefits more generous and removing obligations on welfare recipients.

“Welfare should be about helping people get back on their feet, not allowing them to abuse the system and depend on the state. Welfare should not be a lifestyle choice.

“Almost 188,000 adults are receiving the Jobseeker benefit, yet we have severe labour shortages in many sectors that are not being addressed.

“What does it say about Jacinda Ardern's Government’s attitude towards the value of work that thousands more New Zealanders are now at the mercy of Government handouts.

“We need to be encouraging these New Zealanders back into the labour market, not incentivising them to stay on welfare.”

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