“There are 170,037 New Zealanders on Jobseeker Support, with 98,934 of them classified as work-ready when businesses are crying out for labour. There should be no excuse for them to turn down suitable work,” says ACT’s Social Development spokesperson Karen Chhour.

“It’s mindboggling for employers how there can be so many potential workers on a benefit when there are “help wanted” signs on almost every window. We hear ya.

“Labour should look at all the businesses struggling for workers this summer and ask themselves why people won’t leave the safety of the benefit.

“Benefits should be a way of helping people find their way and get back into work, but Labour is making them a way of life instead.

“The number of people on a main benefit is now 345,762. That’s almost the population of Christchurch.

“Despite unemployment at 3.3 per cent, the number of people on benefits is stubbornly above 11 per cent. It was 9.7 per cent pre-Covid.

“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