Concerns over high rate of benefit leavers not gaining employment

By Maiki Sherman

According to figures released by the Council of Trade Unions today, of those who came off a benefit last year, less than half went into work.

The Ministry of Social Development says there are a number of reasons for that, but the Opposition says the figures raise a number of concerns. 

The Government often boasts about the number of people who have come off a benefit but it seems that hot air may be deflating.

According to Ministry of Social Development figures last year, around 180,000 people came off a benefit, but only about 80,000 of them went into work.

So around 54% of those who were no longer on a benefit were also not employed.

The Māori Party says it's asked the Minister for a "Please explain". 

Marama Fox says, “If they are going on to university that's fine. If they're moving to Australia for work that's fine too.  My concern though is if people are living in poverty or simply on the support of others.”

Peeni Henare says, “The Government says the number of Māori receiving a benefit is currently decreasing but my question is, what are they doing now?”

Labour's Peeni Henare says his biggest concern is that if people aren't receiving a benefit or wages, how are they surviving?

Henare says, “If they're not working then what are they doing to survive? Those are the questions and concerns I have.”

Fox says, “If the Government knows where a person is going, then it's okay for them to herald that.  But there's no point in boasting when they don't even know where these people are moving on to.”

The Council of Trade Unions says the Government needs to monitor those falling through the system.

Te Kāea requested an interview with Social Development Minister Anne Tolley but she was unavailable.