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Paula Bennett

26 February, 2013

Future Focus gets results

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says policy changes introduced through staged welfare reforms are seeing real gains for New Zealanders.

Future Focus, implemented in 2010 as a pre-cursor to major reforms introduced clear obligations and greater fairness to the benefits system.

Future Focus changes include requiring:

  • Unemployment Beneficiaries to reapply if they remain on the benefit after a year and prove their eligibility to continue receiving assistance.
  • DPB recipients with children over six to look for part-time work.

“More than 21,400 people have left the Unemployment Benefit as a result of this policy, and half of those didn’t actually complete the reapplication.”

“This reapplication process has seen more than 5,500 Unemployment Benefits cancelled because people had obtained work,” says Mrs Bennett.

‘Through this reapplication policy alone, we have saved taxpayers $74 million dollars.”

Prior to Future Focus there were no work expectations on sole parents until their youngest child was 18 years old.

More than 10,600 sole parents on the DPB with children over six years old are now earning more than $100 a week through part-time work.

Future Focus also introduced reassessments for those on the Sickness Benefit and since the policy began around 5,100 left this benefit.

“The main reasons for leaving this benefit were due to the person finding work or no longer being eligible for a Sickness Benefit.”

“More than 171,000 benefits affected by Future Focus have been cancelled because people found work; a good result in light of economic challenges”.

Benefit numbers reduced by 165 every week, on average, over the last two years, which equates to 34 people every working day.

In the two years before the recession, benefits reduced by just 62 a week on average.

“Work and Income staff are focused on helping people find work, it’s been tough for many and will continue to be challenging, but they’re making a difference,” says Mrs Bennett.