Hear that sound? It’s Judith Collins banging the sickness beneficiaries drum again. Fresh from a sensationalist report on the front page of the Dom today, Collins is demanding the Government and the Department of Work & Income:
“admit they are failing beneficiaries and failing doctors because Labour is more focused on pushing people on to sickness benefits to make unemployment benefit numbers look better.”
This has been a Tory standard for some time: the reason unemployment rates are down so much is because Labour is putting everyone on sickness benefits. Unfortunately the stats don’t support this claim. Here’s a graph showing trends in benefit numbers between 1990-1999 under National, and 1999-2007 under Labour.
You’ll note that even with our growing and aging population putting pressure on sickness beneficiary numbers there is no marked increase since 1999, and certainly nothing to account for the drastic fall in unemployment. In fact, if you adjust the figures to population, sickness beneficiary numbers increased 51% under National compared to just 33% under Labour.
Collins has a research unit to tell her this kind of stuff. She just knows you don’t.