Remember back when Labour was in power and the Right had this myth that dole numbers had only dropped because Labour had moved people to other benefits? It wasn’t true but that didn’t stop John Key saying it during one of the 2008 debates as he promised to get more people into work. Now, 2 years later, 83,879 more Kiwis are on benefits.
National promised us they would get people back into work. Paula Bennett went on a six week paid holiday to the US supposedly to learn and come up with ideas to help her in her portfolio. They’ve wheeled out the same old beneficiary bashing as always. But it hasn’t worked. The jobs aren’t there and dole numbers have risen by 43,713 or 114% since Key and Bennett came to power.
The cost is serious – an extra $2.3 billion will be spent on benefits this year compared to 2008. Then there’s the lost tax revenue.An unemployed person on the dole pays $4,700 a year less tax than a person on the median full-time wage (which is $39,000). So, that’s $200 million lost tax revenue.
$2.5 billion is a big bill for allowing extra unemployment. And it doesn’t count the costs of poverty, crime, lost tax from people who lost their jobs but don’t get the dole etc.
Now, our National masters are supposed to be great businesspeople. And what would a sensible businessperson do when facing a $2.5 billion cost? Well, surely they would be willing to spend up to that same amount to avoid the cost. They would be willing to invest billions in job creation – the Green New Deal, for example.
Of course, that’s not how National operates. They say that government should be run like a business but they won’t spend money to save a larger cost. Instead, the Nats want to use benefit cuts and aggressive new eligibility tests to punish the people who lost their jobs through not fault of their own and who desperately want to get back into work.
If only unemployed Kiwi workers had a government that backed them.