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Finance Minister Bill English’s startling admission that the Government is relying on its welfare reforms as a cure all for New Zealand’s economic woes should set the alarm bells ringing, Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.
“What Mr English appears to have conveniently forgotten is that the savings he is touting through those reforms are heavily reliant on an improvement in the job market.
“The fact is we have an unemployment rate that’s at a 13-year high - with commentators expecting it to stay at around the 7 per cent mark for some time – and a Government that still doesn’t have a jobs creation plan.
“It seems then that Mr English’s stated priority of ‘bedding in’ these reforms basically hinges entirely around reducing access to support, an approach that is not only wrong but that has been discredited in the UK where Paula Bennett seems to be gleaning most of her ideas from.
“Other details left out of the equation are that the youth part of this welfare package is going to cost more than it will save – and that’s according to the Government’s own estimates – and the fact the shake-up looks set to help fewer young people than previously. In the meantime the number of young Kiwis not in education, work or training continues to soar.
“National is prepared to spend at least $520 million on these harmful welfare reforms rather than on job creation and removing barriers to getting work. That, in my book, is a mis-directed spend,” Jacinda Ardern says.