Nats’ dismal record on jobs and benefits

Written By: - Date published: 1:28 pm, November 29th, 2009 - 19 comments
Categories: unemployment, welfare - Tags:

In opposition, National claimed that Labour wasn’t really getting people off benefits, it was just moving them from  unemployment benefit and ‘hiding’ them on the sickness and invalid’s benefits – Paula Bennett repeated the claim just this week in the House. But the facts prove otherwise.
 b numbers

benefit summary

When Labour was in power, there was small growth in sickness and invalids numbers (mostly due to the aging population) but that didn’t come close to balancing out the huge drop in unemployment and DPB numbers. Under Labour, the number of people getting a benefit fell by over 4% a year on average for nine years. That’s one hell of an achievement. Why did it happen? Because they were getting into work. 
For all their beneficiary-bashing rhetoric, both in opposition and government, National has overseen an explosion in beneficiary numbers. The DPB and unemployment numbers reversed a long downward trend and exploded upwards. Those numbers my be explained by growing unemployment but why has number of people getting the sickness benefit grown a whooping 13% (and that’s after accounting for population growth)?It makes you wonder if National is hiding unemployment by pushing people on to the sickness benefit. Over all beneficiary numbers have increased over 19% in just one year under National.
People are being forced on to benefits because of the lack of work. Unemployment leads to more crime, poor health, depression and all those other social effects, and it has a devastating fiscal impact. Every person who goes from working to getting a benefit increases the deficit by around $18,000 a year in benefit payments and lost tax revenue.
Bennett says“Young people thinking of hanging around on the dole can forget about it on her watch” but the reality is that since she became minister the number of 18-24 year olds on the dole has exploded from 5,800 to 19,800. The number of people who had been on the dole longer than a year was just 7,200 when she became minister, now it’s over 12,000. She is all talk, no action; all puff, no substance.
The message here is that National’s anti-beneficiary rhetoric has always been hollow. Their entire policy is to pick on beneficiaries to win the support of mean-spirited people who think they’re all bludgers. They have no plan for helping people off the benefit. If they were serious about reducing benefit numbers they would be pursuing a full employment policy – they’re not because they aren’t.

19 comments on “Nats’ dismal record on jobs and benefits”

  1. Kruk 1

    I was in my late teens, and just starting to take notice of politics when National was last in power. I remember the benefit cuts that were aimed at taking money away from those who had very little to begin with, and the people who were labelled as bludgers when they asked for help from the system they had paid into. I pretty much decided then and there I was never voting for any party that had such mean-spiritedness in it. So far, the Nats have done nothing to win back my vote.

  2. JD 2

    “Over all beneficiary numbers have increased over 19% in just one year under National.”

    I was under the impression that there was a global recession going on. Could that have something to do with the increase in unemployed?

    “If they were serious about reducing benefit numbers they would be pursuing a full employment policy”

    Correct, they could increase the bicycle track to four lanes and then force the unemployed to construct it with their bare hands thereby ’employing’ them. Is that the kind of solution you’d want.

    This post is idiotic really. I expect more from the standard in terms of writing quality of its contributors.

    • Akldnut 2.1

      JD you clown, the recession wouldn’t explain 13% growth in sickness beneficiaries

    • Marty G 2.2

      “Correct, they could increase the bicycle track to four lanes and then force the unemployed to construct it with their bare hands thereby ‘employing’ them. Is that the kind of solution you’d want. ”

      jd. you need to learn some history. FDR is the States and the first Labour government here undertook a number number of public works programmes that created good work for the unemployed and infrastructure that we still benefit from today.

      Today, we need a Green New Deal – government-led construction of green infrastructure using workers that capitalism has suddenly found surplus to requirements.

  3. Tim Ellis 3

    There must be a reason for this, other than Mrs Bennett wanting to put more people on welfare. Let’s see. I wonder what that might be.

    Global recession, anyone?

    • Marty G 3.1

      Of course there’s a global recession Tim. But how does that explain the number of people on sickness benefits going up over 13% in a year of National government?

      And the point on unemployment is that National has done nothing to protect jobs. There was always going to be an increase in unemployment but the government ought to act to minimise it. Instead they’ve done nothing.

      captcha: blame

    • BLiP 3.2

      There must be a reason for this . . . I wonder what that might be

      Wonder no more.

    • Craig Glen Eden 3.3

      Oh yes Tim “global recession” that National have done nothing to address here in NZ, face it this lot has no bloody clue, no recession in Australia Buddy.

      What is the big difference Tim? I will tell you because you probably wont be able to work it out, and it is not minerals TIM, Labour in Australia had a stimulus package, mean while Nat MPS in NZ are busy working on their trusts and preparing for sale anything they think they can get away with selling.

      Oh and the sickness benefit numbers why are they going up under National TIM.
      Let me guess the recession. National are are a do nothing Government when it comes to doing any thing to help its people (the tax payer ) to busy passing on frebbies to its mates. But its all good the clown continues with clown shit and his mates prepare to move in,National are a disgrace. Bennett continues to straight out lie about creating 4000 jobs for you people, but not to worry lets not let the facts get in the way of a PR story aye.

    • sk 3.4

      So Tim, what happens of the global market sell-off last week is signalling the start of a double-dip recession? National and JK could blame 2009 on the global recession, but what about 2010? If slump extends, then it is up to the Government to respond. But from what I hear, all they are thinking of is a tightening in fiscal policy in 2010.

      Now, that will make 2010 interesting.

  4. Macro 4

    Have you ever wondered Tim what might be the cause for the global recession? And who might be responsible? I’ll give you a clue – most of the policies are now entrenched in NZ economics, and some of the the main actors are in NZ, and they are almost all unaffected by it. Indeed they scream for more of the same! Unthinking idiots.

    • Kruk 4.1

      Actually, I don’t think they’re idiots at all. Recessions are great if you’re monied up. Property at knockdown prices, people desperate to hold on to work, lots of opportunities to cut “wastefull” spending lilke benefits, health services, legal aid (you just know that’s being set up to be cut down- don’t want the poor and the dark getting the idea they can have their day in court.)

  5. JD 5

    “Today, we need a Green New Deal government-led construction of green infrastructure using workers that capitalism has suddenly found surplus to requirements.”

    What is ‘green infrastructure’? Specifically.

  6. Jared 6

    How about a trend analysis for 2008 showing the increase in beneficiaries month by month. The government can only stem the flow so much, it can’t enact a foolproof system that heals the economy without having the money to do it, we just dont, as per any small country. An economic realignment in the job market due to a decrease in demand and sales as a part of recessionary behaviour can hardly be blamed on the government. The rhetoric for blaming Labour is running dry, but to be fair, in Labours nine years it didn’t experience a recession like we have/are experiencing now.

    It was just by chance that National was elected when the full brunt of the recession was bearing down on the country, and to be fair, the world. In that respect you cannot blame National. If employers aren’t hiring, apart from subsidising positions, what can you do? And even then, subsidising jobs in a labour market where normally their job wouldn’t be needed and demand isn’t around is inefficient and creates a glut of jobs and expectations of continued subsidies when the market does bounce back. A “full employment policy” is nice, but not when we can’t really afford it.

    • felix 6.1

      All true but all avoiding the point – why have sickness and invalids benefit numbers increased so much under National?

      • fizzleplug 6.1.1

        do they pay better than the dole? I know that a lot of people are moving onto ACC with “injuries” when their building work dries up as it pays better than the dole.

    • Marty G 6.2

      “A “full employment policy’ is nice, but not when we can’t really afford it.”

      I don’t think we can afford to have people unemployed. Consider the tax paid by an ordinary person, (median wage is approx 41K, so tax paid is approx $7,500 per annum). That’s lost when they lose their jobs plus the fact that about 40% (off the top of my head) of unemployed people go on the dole at a cost of $12,000 a year.

      $7,500 + 0.4*12,000 = $12,300 – as a rought rule of thumb, when 1,000 people lose their jobs it costs the government $12.5 million. Since its low point about 20 months ago, joblessness has jumped by 100,000. That makes unemployment a billion dollar cost to the government.

      and that’s just the financial cost. How much does each additional crime cost the government and wider society? Crime moves in near on lock-step with unemployment. More police time, more court cases, more people locked up at a cost of $200 a day.

      Unemployment is expensive. It’s worth spending money to avoid it. And there are a massive range of things the government could be employing people to do – just check out the Green’s Green New Deal.

  7. Akldnut 7

    That’s a no-brainer Jared, STIMULUS PACKAGE not a cut back in services or creating more unemployed.

    For each person they make unemployed, they have another person in the dole queue that they are still paying, so the reported savings would be nowhere near what they claim.

    • Jared 7.1

      I wasn’t insinuating a cutback in services, I was addressing the cost of a stimulus and its affordability. A stimulus package is all well and good if you can afford it, id like to see some potential costings, but I doubt we could afford it, even when you take into account the money spent on benefits. If the graphing is correct then the slide seems to have begun well before the election, hardly fair to make National shoulder all the blame.

  8. A Nonny Moose 8

    This is the type of policy making I’ve been trying to explain to conservative peers – long term Labour education and welfare policies should start seeing fruition now…if Nat didn’t start hacking at them the moment they step into office. Nat’s all very “shut the gate after the horse has bolted” throw money at the symptoms. I get very tired of the “but Labour did nothing in their time but make pansies out of our kids” – trying to explain the Long Term view gets tedious to the knee jerk conservative “easy fix its”.

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