INDEPENDENT NEWS

Stress & depression benefits balloon under Labour

Published: Tue 30 Nov 2004 05:13 PM
Stress & depression benefits balloon under Labour
Tuesday 30 Nov 2004
Dr Muriel Newman - Press Releases - Social Welfare
ACT Deputy Leader and Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today revealed that the number of New Zealanders receiving a Sickness Benefit for stress or depression has more than doubled since Labour came to power.
"Answers to my written Parliamentary Questions show that the number of people granted a Sickness Benefit for stress or depression has increased 128 percent in five years - from 5,354 in October 1999, to 12,228 in October 2004," Dr Newman said.
"This ballooning figure has contributed to the 40 percent increase in the number of New Zealanders receiving the Sickness Benefit - from 34,723 to 48,818 during the same period.
"These figures come at a time when Social Development Minister Steve Maharey has been self-congratulating himself on the drop in unemployment figures. It appears that he is happy to turn a blind eye to able-bodied beneficiaries signing up to the Sickness Benefit, if it means keeping the unemployment rate down.
"New Zealanders know that low unemployment figures mean little if they're matched by high Sickness Benefit numbers. What these figures show is that Steve Maharey and the Labour Party have gone soft on welfare.
"ACT believes that people should be proactively rehabilitated into the workforce. We are not a sicker society but, sadly, we are letting more people slip onto sickness benefits and languish there without any plan to return to work," Dr Newman said.
ENDS

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