More people on job seeker support benefits under Labour 'just not good enough', says Simon Bridges

An increase in the number of people on job seeker support benefits under the Labour coalition Government is "not good enough" according to Simon Bridges.

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The National Party leader spoke about the issue on TVNZ1’s Breakfast. Source: 1 NEWS

The National Party leader called out the Government about the figures on TVNZ1's Breakfast today, saying people on the job seeker support benefits have increased by 11,000.

"There's not a lot that's good about being on the unemployment benefit, or job seekers support as it's now called," he said.

The number had gone down under the former National government, but had gone up since Labour took charge, Mr Bridges claimed today.

"That is remarkable in a time when there are jobs, whether it's in forestry, in kiwifruit in ICT and a whole lot of others, building, you name it.

"It's just not good enough, so what is going on?"

Mr Bridges hit out at the government saying they've stopped applying sanctions or penalties to beneficiaries who did not turn up to job interviews or appointments.

"People are, I believe, languishing on the dole - that's not good enough for them, or the taxpayer," Mr Bridges said. "I'm not into that."

Under the last National's government people had to not turn up three or four times, but would then be penalised, he said.

"This is where repeatedly they're (beneficiaries) saying, 'you know what, I can't be bothered.'" Well that's not good for them, they will have worse outcomes in their life - but as well as that, it's also not good for the guy or girl out there who is working hard and paying taxes to pay for that.

"Unemployment's gone up 11,000. I think under National, we'd turn that around."

However, the Government said the increase of 0.1 per cent, from 9.8 per cent to 9.9 per cent of working age people on a main benefit was impacted by "temporary industry-specific issues", particularly in Auckland and Christchurch.

"As fewer people were able to leave benefit to take up these roles," Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni said.

She said the figures did show welcome developments of a decrease of youth and parent benefits, and the unemployment rate was down at 3.9 per cent from 4.7 per cent the previous year.

The significant jump of the number of hardship grants (385,043 in the 2018 December quarter, compared to 290,070 in the December 2017 quarter) showed that more people who were applying for the grants were receiving it, Ms Sepuloni said.