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Benefits on way down

By Jake Beleski

[email protected]

Carterton is leading the way in Wairarapa when it comes to decreasing benefit rates across the region’s territorial authorities.

Since September 2013 total benefits in Carterton have decreased from 473 to 386, a drop of 18.4 per cent.

South Wairarapa is not far behind, dropping from 557 to 459, a drop of 17.6 per cent.

Both districts are declining at impressive rates even when compared to national averages.

Nationally, the number of benefits has decreased by 8.6 per cent.

Benefits in the Masterton and Tararua districts are also declining, but not to the same degree.

Masterton has dropped from 2077 to 2026 (2.5 per cent drop) in the same period, and Tararua from 1595 to 1543 (3.1 per cent drop).

A Ministry of Social Development spokesperson said it was not unusual to see such a discrepancy across regions.

“It is not unusual to see variability between towns and cities.

“When comparing the number of people in receipt of a benefit and it is more accurate to consider changes across a territorial authority.”

Several factors may differ, such as access to public transport, which meant making a direct comparison was difficult.

The trend of benefits declining nationwide in the last four years could be put down to an upturn in economic conditions, increased obligations for a wider group of beneficiaries following the introduction of Welfare Reform, and more active case management helping a greater number of sole parents into work, the spokesperson said.

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said the proportion of the population on a main benefit was the lowest it has been in a March quarter since 1997.

“At the end of the quarter there were 278,236 people on a main benefit, a decrease of 1,655 (0.6 per cent) compared to last year.

“Those receiving Sole Parent Support had the largest drop in the last 12 months, falling by 4,175 (6.3 per cent).”

When looking at national benefits broken down into specific categories, Auckland City has the highest percentage of New Zealand’s beneficiary population on Jobseeker Support (9.5 per cent), Manukau City has the highest on Sole Parent Support (11.6 per cent), while Christchurch City recorded the highest percentage on Supported Living Payment (9.3 per cent).

The regions claiming the highest total number of benefits in New Zealand are Manukau City (24,414) and Auckland City (22,952).

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