-How much? How many
from The Jobs Letter No.73 / 10 February 1997
In June 1997, over 350,000 NZ'ers were the primary recipients of the main income-tested benefits , around 15% of the working-age population. The Budget Policy Statement says this is a five-fold increase since 1975 in both total numbers and percentage of the working age population. More than 28% of NZ's children are now living in families receiving income-tested benefits.
Increasing beneficiary numbers have raised expenditure on the main income-tested benefits from $610m in 1974/75 (in 1996 dollars) to $3.772m in 1996/97. This now represents 12% of government expenditure.
In June 1996, 54% of working age beneficiaries had been in receipt of a benefit for more than a year.
How much do beneficiaries live on? Figures compiled by the New Zealand Herald show that unemployed beneficiaries are only just catching up on the amounts they were paid before the infamous 1991 welfare cuts, without allowing for inflation. In December 1990, an unemployed adult received $143.57, only $2.56 less than these beneficiaries get now.
Adult sickness beneficiaries now get $10 less than the flat rate they would have been paid eight years ago, while the sole parent with one child is nearly $20 worse off now compared to the 1990 flat rate.
If these benefits were linked to inflation, unemployed people would now receive $168.50 (compared to the present $146.13), sickness beneficiaries $190.44 flat rate ($152.21) and sole parents with one child $250.16 flat rate ($209.30).
Source The Budget Policy Statement 4 February 1998 by Treasurer Winston Peters; The New Zealand herald 6 February 1998 "Beneficiaries only just back to Square One"