End of year figures show 17,000 fewer on benefit

  • Paula Bennett
Housing Social Development

Latest benefit numbers reveal thousands of New Zealanders have gained financial independence by coming off welfare in the past 12 months, Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says. 

Figures for the December 2013 quarter released today show over 17,000 fewer people are on benefit compared to December 2012.

“This is a significant decrease and proof that the welfare reforms implemented by this Government are making a huge difference for New Zealanders,” Mrs Bennett said.

There were 321,869 people on benefit in the December 2013 quarter.

While this is up from the September figure of 304,394, this is largely due to the increase in people receiving Student Hardship – as is typical at this time of year.

“The decrease includes over 8,000 sole parents who have gone off the benefit, a 9.4 per cent drop compared to the same time last year,” Mrs Bennett says.

Welfare reforms included new obligations for sole parents to be ready and available for part-time work when their youngest child is school-age and full-time work when their youngest turns 14.

“This impressive drop is down to thousands of sole parents seeking a better future for them and their families through work, and also thanks to Work and Income case managers, who are doing a fantastic job offering better, more targeted support than ever before.”

Over 19,800 people cancelled their benefit to go into work in the last quarter.

There has been a 19.7 per cent decrease in Cantabrians receiving Jobseeker Support compared to 12 months ago, highlighting the opportunities arising as the Christchurch rebuild ramps up.

The Auckland region has also seen a big drop over the same period, with close to 3,700 fewer people now on the Jobseeker benefit.

“This Government has spent $536 million in reforming the welfare system, and these figures prove the value of this investment,” Mrs Bennett says. 

“Around 1,500 benefits are cancelled each week as people go off benefit and into work, and thousands of New Zealand families are receiving a level of support and encouragement they never have before, and getting ahead as a result.” 

Full benefit data is available at: www.msd.govt.nz