Topic: Elections/Kōwhiri

National adamant to steer youth clear of welfare trap

By Heeni Brown

According to Social Welfare Minister Paula Bennett, the total lifetime cost of all people currently on welfare is $76.5 billion and more than 70% of that is attributed to those who went on a benefit as teenagers.

Hence, the reason they want to extend National's strict-control scheme of its youth beneficiaries.

National says they're making sure youth don't fall into the welfare trap.

By restricting how 18 and 19-year-old beneficiaries spend their benefit, they may be able to achieve this.

Prime Minister John Key says, “In the end we're trying to set youngsters up and have the opportunity into hopefully progressing them into paid employment.”

Under this scheme, Work and Income will assess all under 20s who are seeking a benefit.  

Those with more complex needs will be referred to a youth service provider.

They'll receive intensive support and guidance together with budgeting support and the use of a payment card.

It's a process that already exists for youth beneficiaries aged 16 and 17 years of age where essential costs like rent and power, are paid directly on the young person's behalf.

Money for basic living costs like food and groceries are loaded onto a payment card and can't be used to buy things like alcohol and cigarettes.

“All the evidence shows that if you go onto a benefit when you're young particularly a teenager especially if you're on the DPB or the equivalent then you're likely to stay there for a considerably a long period of time,” says Prime Minister John Key.

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