Benefit numbers fall

  • Paula Bennett
Social Development

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says there are 29,000 fewer New Zealanders receiving benefits since the last quarter.

This is the lowest benefit numbers have been at this time of year since 2009.

“I’m really pleased to see this significant reduction in benefits and I take my hat off to the more than 17,600 people who went off the Unemployment, DPB and Sickness Benefits and into work in the last quarter.”

The Ministry of Social Development cancelled 525 benefits in the last quarter after it implemented an enhanced information sharing arrangement with Inland Revenue.

“MSD has been carrying out an outbound calling campaign to confirm that these people, identified through this new information, have been earning income at a level that means they should not have been paid the benefit,” says Mrs Bennett.

“With the delegation for fraud, Associate Social Development Minister Chester Borrows follows these matters closely.”

There are now 310,146 people on benefits, including 92,550 sole parents on DPB, 58,208 on Sickness Benefits and 48,756 on Unemployment Benefits.

Over the next reporting quarter, Work and Income staff will be trained on the new welfare reforms, which will involve a total of five days away from the frontline.

“It’s vital for staff to be well trained and prepared to take a new approach to helping people when the changes are implemented from July 15,” Mrs Bennett says.

“The welfare reforms we’re introducing include clear obligations and expectations and will mean more people get better support to move off welfare into work.”