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Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard

Question No. 3—Social Development and Employment

3TERISA NGOBI (Labour—Ōtaki) to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: What reports has she seen regarding the number of people receiving a main benefit?

Hon CARMEL SEPULONI (Minister for Social Development and Employment): The monthly benefit update for May shows a further decrease in the number of people receiving a main benefit. As of 31 May, there were 357,591 people receiving a main benefit, a fall of 3,087 from April 2021. Overall, the number of people receiving a main benefit has fallen 32,010 since the end of January, and 20,484 of these people moved off the jobseeker work-ready benefit. It is clear that the Government’s quick action in combatting COVID-19 has lessened the expected economic impact and kept people in jobs. We’re not out of the woods yet, but the signs are very promising.

Terisa Ngobi: What is the Government doing to get people work-ready and off a main benefit?

Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: In the March quarter, we saw a record number of people cancel their benefit and move into work. This trend continued in May 2021, with a further 10,881 more people leaving a main benefit and moving into work. The Government has invested heavily in programmes that focus on upskilling people and getting them ready for work—Mana in Mahi, He Poutama Rangatahi, Flexi-wage, and Apprenticeship Boost have been particularly successful in getting people ready for the jobs on offer in the labour market. Budget 2021 continues this work by investing a further $99 million over two years to bolster the Ministry of Social Development’s (MSD’s) frontline work-focused services to get people back into work.

Terisa Ngobi: What is the Government doing to get long-term job seekers into work?

Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: In the March quarter, 4,137 people who had been receiving a benefit for longer than a year exited the jobseeker work-ready benefit into employment. Most people on a benefit want to work, but many have barriers to employment. The role of MSD is to find ways to overcome these barriers, and, as the numbers show, we are having some success. But we also have programmes in place to incentivise employers in taking a chance on those who are disadvantaged in the labour market. One such programme is Flexi-wage, which has placed 3,582 who are at risk of long-term benefit dependency into work since February 2021, and 97 percent of these placement have not returned to benefit.