Luxon slams Government youth benefit numbers as 'not good enough'

Source: 1News

National Party leader Christopher Luxon is criticising the Government over claims of a big increase in the number of young adults spending years on unemployment benefits.

According to Luxon, the number of young adults spending more than a year on a jobseeker benefit has exploded, from 7000 when Labour came into office in 2017, to more than 13,000 in the mid-2022.

“Labour really doesn't care about young people and they're leaving them languishing on benefits,” Luxon said.

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“It's not good enough to leave young people who can work on a benefit and say that's your lot in life when in fact there are so many jobs and opportunities for young people to be working.”

But those tasked with getting young people into jobs believe the pandemic, and how it's changed expectations, has played a significant role.

“Work experience, you know you can't do that in a lockdown situation, or a pandemic easily. And employers are finding it harder to open the doors,” said Bex Twemlow from Youth Employment Success.

“I think there's a disconnect between our employers screaming out for employees and what they're offering, which our young people want,” she said.

Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni still sees success for young people, saying 35,000 18 to 24-year-olds left benefits for work in the last year.

“We are seeing the results that we wanted,” Sepuloni said.

According to her statements, so does the Prime Minister.

“Mana in Mahi has now placed 5000 people predominantly young people into employment alongside training,” Jacinda Ardern said.

The National Party is holding its annual conference at the weekend in Christchurch as it builds towards election year.

1News understands targeting long-term unemployment among young adults will be a major focus.

However, more than a third of the 13,000 who spent more than a year on a jobseeker benefit have serious health conditions stopping them from full-time work right now.

But Luxon maintained his criticism.

"We have other benefits to help people who have disabilities or other issues, this is about the jobseeker benefit," he said.