Thursday, January 23, 2020

Lindsay Mitchell: Carmel rains on Jacinda's parade

At the very moment Jacinda Ardern was promising a "factual election campaign free from misinformation" her Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni was issuing a desperate press release about the latest rise in benefit numbers.

The number of people on Jobseeker benefits has gone up 10 percent since December 2018. 

Here's Sepuloni's take

The December quarter benefit numbers released today show the Government’s plan to get people off the benefit and into work is starting to pay off,” Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni said. 

“Nearly 19,000 people cancelled their benefit and went into work in the last few months of the year – that’s about the population of Levin – and is the second quarter in a row that the number of people coming off the benefit and into work has increased, year on year.

When a net figure goes up the only reason is that there have been more grants than cancellations.

“The number of people on a main benefit is 314,408, which is 10.5 per cent of the working age population, remaining lower than the 11.2 per cent on a main benefit under National five years ago.

In December 2014 the unemployment rate was 5.5 percent - not 4.2%. This is feeble stuff.

The picture is bad and she really cannot explain it away.

“The Government is committed to helping people to find meaningful and sustainable work while ensuring the welfare system is fairer and more accessible for all New Zealanders. While there’s more to do, we are on the right track,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

Unbelievable. I don't want to see what the 'wrong' track looks like.

Only two hours later Sepuloni told Magic Talk midday news listeners,"The trajectory for the rise started before we got in."

It did not.

However well-intentioned the Prime Minister's instructions to MPs and public assurances were, the cabinet Minister responsible for the largest share of tax payer spending immediately undermined them.

Lindsay Mitchell is a welfare commentator who blogs HERE.

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