Last month the Minster of Social Development announced that
more than 6,700 New Zealanders went off welfare and into work in July 2011.
I was curious, so I asked the minister’s office if that meant that everyone who went off the unemployment benefit in July went to work. I was told that was correct.
I have now found out -via the OIA - that this is now incorrect and have also been told that the Government has no idea as to whether the work was full time or not. Paula Bennett says, “Some of the trends we’re seeing are more full-time jobs, more women in work, increasing wages and more hours for workers.”
Yet she has no idea whether how many full time jobs are secured by those off benefits. Many may well be on short term or part time contracts (like doing work associated with the Rugby World Cup) and end up back on the benefit shortly after.
What Bennett didn’t say was that in July, 7496 left the unemployment benefit but only 4213 went to work. So 44 per cent of those who came off the unemployment benefit in July did so for reasons other than work. Most started full time study, probably because they couldn’t find a job.
I also sought to find out why benefits were being paid
to those who were not supposed to be getting benefits after 7400 benefits were cancelled after beneficiaries failed to reapply for their benefit after 12 months.
According to media reports
Half of the people who were now off it did not reapply. Of the other half, 2000 were already in work, 1400 had left the county, were in study or failed the work test.
Prime Minister John Key said it could be assumed those people were in work. But 300 of them had failed a work test and were on a stand down period, 365 had entered study as they could not get a job. A third of the 1400 had left the benefit for reasons other than stated. Around 230 had left New Zealand, but WINZ was not prepared to tell me how long each had received a benefit before leaving without charging me. Nearly 400 were cancelled for “other” reasons which WINZ simply could not tell me.
Of the 7400 benefits cancelled, WINZ does not know why half (3698) didn’t reapply – nor could they tell me how long they paid benefits before cancelling. Some may have simply left the country.
But there is a pattern. Just half those who leave an unemployment benefit get work. Meaning that when the workforce increases, a good proportion of the increase is from those who were not previously receiving the unemployment benefit.
Labels: unemployed, WINZ