"How is it possible that MSD has been unable to shift tens of thousands of beneficiaries into work when employers are screaming out for workers?” Asks ACT’s Social Development spokesperson Karen Chhour.

"We have an historical labour shortage. MSD has 100,000 work ready beneficiaries on its books, an additional 35,000 work ready beneficiaries compared to when they took office. When fruit is rotting on branches and businesses are crying out for labour there should be no excuse for them to turn down suitable work.

"Labour is going soft on those who choose to stay dependent on government when they are capable of working. There are no longer any serious obligations or sanctions.

“Today’s statistics show that the amount of people cancelling their benefit to join the workforce has decreased by 15.7 per cent in the past year, yet sanctions on beneficiaries who aren’t meeting work-related obligations have dropped by 2,000 in the last year, and by more than 10,000 since 2017.

“Recently ACT exposed that the Government is investigating benefit fraud less than ever as well.

“Labour just doesn’t seem to want to incentivise Kiwis to work. Their culture of welfare dependency is hurting New Zealand’s productivity, with able Kiwis choosing to reside on a benefit rather than play their part in society and work.

“They have pumped up the amount of benefits but have relaxed obligations on recipients. If only they tried to grow the economy with the same verve and determination as they brought to dishing out handouts.

“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. ACT today proposed a document full of cost of living solutions the Government should be following to do exactly that.

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

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Karen Chhour