Welfare that works – helping young Kiwis

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

National Party leader Christopher Luxon says the party’s new welfare policy will get young people off benefits and into employment. Times file photo Wayne Martin.
  • By Christopher Luxon, National Party leader and MP for Botany

Businesses up and down the country are crying out for workers so it makes no sense that we have 170,000 people receiving the Jobseeker or unemployment benefit.

What’s even more worrying is the number of young people under the age of 25 years who are on this benefit.

Right now, there are 34,000 young people are on a Jobseeker benefit – a 49 per cent increase under Labour.

What’s concerning is that 13,000 of them have been on it for a year or longer.

That’s just not acceptable in a time of high employment. If this Labour Government can’t help get these young people into work now, it never will.

Data shows that if someone is under the age of 20 and goes on a benefit, they will spend an average of 12 years of their lives on welfare.

That is a tragic waste of human potential and National won’t give up on people who could and should be contributing.

Clearly the status-quo isn’t working. A National Government that I lead will take a new approach to reduce benefit dependency among our young people.

The other weekend, I announced our new policy, ‘Welfare that Works’ which aims to break the cycle of benefit dependency.

The policy will redirect some of the Ministry of Social Development’s (MSD) funding to community providers so they can build their capacity to work with young people and help get them into work.

This policy has three main components:

Community providers will be contracted to provide 18-24-year-old Jobseekers with a dedicated job coach to help get them into work, with funding linked to keeping young people off welfare.

Jobseekers will receive more support, with a proper assessment of their barriers to finding work and an individual job plan to address those barriers and get them on a pathway to work.

Those who fail to engage with their plan will face sanctions, such as money management or benefit reductions, but long-term under 25 Jobseekers who get into work and stay off benefit for 12 months will receive a $1000 bonus.

National recognises that there are people on the Jobseeker benefit who have health or disability issues.

These people have been assessed as having a pathway to work and are different to those on a Supported Living benefit.

Rather than abandoning them, we want to make sure they get the help they need.

Under this policy, they will have an individualised job plan that will reflect their situation and needs, so they can get the support that they need to become work ready – such as attending counselling sessions or doing volunteer work.

It isn’t about forcing them into fast employment but helping them create the steps to get there.

They deserve their independence and opportunities that a job provides just as much as anyone else.

Sanctions will only come into effect if a person refuses to work with their job coach or engage in their job plan.

Society has obligations to jobseekers, but jobseekers also have obligations to society.

Taxpayers are happy to support people in their time of need on the basis those people are taking steps to help themselves.

The youth of New Zealand are our future and a National Government I lead will not give up on them. I simply do not accept that some people are too hard to help.