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Paula Bennett

17 January, 2013

December quarter benefit numbers released

The number of people on benefits in New Zealand is the lowest it’s been at the end of a December quarter since 2008.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says the number of people on benefits decreased by nearly 12,000 in the last twelve months.

“But with 339,095 people on benefit in New Zealand, there is much more work to do.”

“We are very much in a transitional phase with the first stage of Welfare Reform currently being implemented and the second stage yet to begin,” says Mrs Bennett.

“There are 13,600 fewer people on benefit than two years ago which means on average, benefit numbers reduced by 131 every week for the past two years.”

Currently 53,747 people are on Unemployment Benefits, but more than 10,000 people went off this benefit into work in the last quarter.

Unemployment Benefit numbers increased by 3,000 over the quarter driven by large numbers of students finishing their studies just before summer.

The number of sole parents on the DPB dropped 1.6% over the quarter to 95,138 and 3,221 sole parents went off this benefit into work in that period.

Changes to the benefit system implemented from October last year mean sole parents with children over five years have a part-time work expectation and those with children aged fourteen and over have a full-time work expectation.

The second stage of welfare reform includes simplified benefit categories which will see the Sickness Benefit, Women Alone, Widows Benefit and DPB sole parents with children over fourteen included in the new Jobseeker Support category.

The number of people on this benefit will therefore be greatly increased from the number currently on the Unemployment Benefit and many more people will have work expectations accordingly.