Future Focus continues to make a difference

  • Paula Bennett
Social Development

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says Future Focus changes are reducing reliance on welfare and saving taxpayer dollars.

“The changes we made in 2010 are having a significant impact by introducing an active approach to welfare,” says Mrs Bennett.

Future Focus changes mean people have to reapply for the Unemployment Benefit after one year and sole parents on the DPB are required to look for part time work when their youngest is six years old.

“The reapplication process has saved taxpayers $86 million because there are 3,300 fewer people on the benefit as a result of this policy.”

Evaluations show 18 per cent of people didn’t actually reapply after one year.

“This is consistent with international evidence showing many people opt out of the process when asked to confirm their circumstances,” says Mrs Bennett.

The part time work obligation for sole parents has resulted in savings of $12.9 million due to an average reduction of 400 people a month needing benefits.

“Prior to these changes, sole parents could receive the DPB until their children were eighteen years old without being required to seek work – well out of step with the rest of the world.”

“We also made it quicker and easier for people to get the first two hardship grants by phone and introduced a requirement to take budgeting steps for repeat applications in the same year.”

“Following the introduction of the Future Focus changes, there has been a reduction in the amount spent on hardship assistance of $23.4 million in 2012 compared with 2009.”

“This reduction is not due to Work and Income approving fewer applications. Pre-Future Focus, about eight per cent of applications were declined, post-Future Focus it’s barely changed at between eight and nine per cent.”

“The point of this policy was to ensure people got help to manage their finances and become more independent,” says Mrs Bennett.

Financial literacy and budgeting are vital – which is why that is a requirement for youth on benefit.”