McCARDLE ANGRY THAT CONTROVERSY IS OVERSHADOWING SUCCESS WITH DPB NUMBERS

  • Peter McCardle
Associate Minister of Work and Income

DPB spending $78 million down

"In the past year, record numbers of people have been moved off the DPB and into work, saving tens of millions of dollars. WINZ has played a big part in it.

"As a result of this and other factors, latest figures to July show spending on the DPB was 78 million dollars lower than expected," Associate Work and Income Minister Peter McCardle said today.

"A big contribution to these results is the new approach by WINZ of intense case-management, which focuses on helping place people into jobs. But sadly these and other achievements are being lost in the welter of publicity over the charter flights and other allegations."

The number on the DPB is down by around 2,000 over the past year, and the total is 5,000 lower than projections made in the 1998 Budget.

Official projections for numbers on the DPB were:

1996/97 112,000 1997/98 115,000 1998/99 118,000 1999/2000 121,000 2001/2001 124,000

The Budget 1999 estimated final number for June was 5,000 lower, at 113,000. However the actual number as at the end of July 1999 is lower still - 111,390.

In the 1998 - 99 Budget the estimated expenditure on the DPB was $1,529 million. Due to falling numbers, the estimated actual final expenditure was $78 million lower at $1,451 million.

"This remarkable turnaround is continuing. Latest spending trends on the DPB over the four months April to July 99 alone show there has been an $8 million saving on the 1999 Budget predictions.

"Due to the new emphasis by WINZ on helping beneficiaries back into work, the number of people getting off the DPB and into jobs is up 16 per cent," Mr McCardle said.

"It's a remarkable result given the flat economy and the fall in available jobs, with advertised vacancies down 2.5 per cent.

"Statistics indicate that more than 9500 sole parents went off the DPB to go into jobs in the year to June. There have been no increases in numbers of sole parents transferring to other benefits, or changing their marital status, in that time.

"WINZ is doing a ton of good work even though it is early days yet and the organisation is still establishing itself.

"Getting long-term DPBs off the dead-end of a benefit is turning their lives around, and also stopping the spiralling growth of DPB numbers. Helping these people find work, along with long term unemployed jobseekers, is now one of WINZ's priorities. They need extra help compared to the newly unemployed, who have a natural head start due to their recent work record, skills and contacts.

"Over the last few weeks there have been serious issues raised about WINZ, as well as emotive headline-grabbing by electioneering politicians. But there are also substantial achievements by WINZ which are overlooked, yet deserve to be recognised," Mr McCardle concluded.