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Paula Bennett

28 February, 2013

Benefit figures under forecast

With a focus on helping people off welfare and into work, benefit numbers have remained below predictions despite the economic conditions.

The number of people on the Unemployment Benefit was predicted to rise to 90,000 as a result of the recession, but peaked at 68,369 in January 2010.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says Work and Income, backed by the Government has maintained a strong focus on jobs.

“That determined focus, along with the Government’s efforts to maintain an economy that supports business to create jobs, has seen us beat predictions.”

When Phil Goff and Annette King were Ministers of Employment (1986 to 1990) the Unemployment Benefit rose from 42,000 to 150,000.

Unemployment Benefit numbers at the end of September were 5,100 under BEFU forecast and despite the usual seasonal blip, were still 1,200 below the BEFU forecast for December and have continued to remain under forecast.

“I also recall dire predictions that Cantabrians would go onto benefits in huge numbers post-quake, but in fact at most there were 6,324 on the Unemployment Benefit in June 2011,” says Mrs Bennett.

“That’s because firstly the Government spent $214 million on work subsidies to keep employers and workers in business and then continued a focus on helping business growth and getting people off welfare into work.”

“I also think Cantabrians and New Zealanders have shown more resilience and determination than the Opposition would give them credit for.”

In the last quarter of 2012 there were 339,095 people on benefit, the lowest December quarter since 2008.

“Work and Income get around 1,000 new vacancies a week and recent reports show jobs advertised online rose by 12.6 percent in January.”

“The recovery is not as fast as we’d like, but jobs are becoming available all the time and people need to be ready and willing to take them.”

In 2012 the number of young people on Unemployment benefits fell 12.9 percent to 15,858, which is well below the peak of 23,545 in January 2010.

And in December 2012 we had 4,705 fewer young people on benefit than in December 2011.

“This Government continues to back New Zealanders to work, train, upskill and boost our economy,” says Mrs Bennett.