“Today’s quarterly benefit numbers show that despite businesses crying out for more workers, benefit dependency remains stubbornly high under Labour,” says ACT’s Social Development spokesperson Karen Chhour.

“22.9 per cent fewer people got themselves off a benefit and into work than the year before. Instead of recipients being encouraged into work Labour has made it a lifestyle choice.  

“The number of people on a main benefit is now 353,904, an increase of 8,000 people since the September 2022 quarter. 11.3 per cent of working age New Zealanders are now on welfare. It was 9.7 per cent pre-Covid.

“When people aren’t working and are being entrenched into the welfare system it slows down the entire New Zealand economy. There should be an ambition for people to get back into work and contributing to society.

“Instead, there are 98,766 jobseeker recipients who are classified as work-ready when they are needed in the workforce. There should be no excuse for them to turn down suitable work.

“With the current labour crisis spiralling and businesses confidence lower than ever before this has never been more important.

“Tens of thousands more Kiwis are at the mercy of handouts and Labour has incentivised them. They have pumped up the number of benefits but haven’t imposed obligations on recipients or tried to grow the economy with the same verve.

“A culture of victimhood is perpetuating Labour’s welfare approach rather than the belief that people can make a difference in their own lives.

“The real tragedy is that Labour’s low expectations for beneficiaries is preventing them from creating a better life for themselves and their families.

“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.

“Welfare is about helping people get back on their feet, it’s not a lifestyle choice.”

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Karen Chhour