The Key Government’s anti-beneficiary campaign continues. The latest is a beat-up on long-term beneficiaries. Apparently, 9 people have been on the dole for longer than 20 years, 14 for 15-20 years, and 181 for 10-15 years.
‘Bludgers!’ we’re meant to cry ‘Bludgers!’
But let’s actually think with our brains rather than our jerking knees.
This is just 204 people out of 60,000 now on the dole (up from 17,000, thanks to National’s do nothing approach to unemployment).
Of course, any rorting of taxpayer money is wrong – just ask Bill English. So if any of these people are not entitled to the dole, they shouldn’t be getting it. But these people are obviously well-known to WINZ and they already routinely check that people getting the dole meet its requirements, as MSD Chief Executive Peter Hughes says “in all cases these people have been under close review and our staff have taken steps to assist these clients into employment”.
That means these people must be genuinely trying to get work. They find it difficult for a number of reasons. They’re older, mostly on the verge of retirement. They live in rural areas where there are few job opportunities. And often the long-term unemployed can have social interaction issues that make getting a job difficult.
But they are not bludgers. They want to work and often have been working. The fact is that some, probably most, of the long-term dole recipients have been in part-time work for a lot of that period. The longest recipient was actually getting as little as $4 a week for a lot of the time because he was working part-time as a bus driver.
I predict all of this will be missed as the Right indulges in another round of beneficiary bashing, which is all part of a softening-up campaign to get us ready for benefit cuts.