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LINDSAY MITCHELL: Welfare: Just two timid targets from the National government

The National Government has announced just two targets for the Ministry of Social Development. They are:

- to reduce the number of people receiving Jobseeker Support by 50,000 to 140,000 by June 2029, and
- (alongside HUD) to reduce the number of households in emergency housing by 75 percent, by June 2029 – this is fewer than 800 households in emergency housing.

The first of these targets is incredibly timid and disappointing.

A reduction of Jobseekers down to 140,000 by June 2029 is still more than there were in June 2019 (136,233). 

To put the target in context, in the year to January 2024, NZ added 133,800 net migrants. If just a third of these found work (assuming the balance are students or dependents of the primary migrant) that represents 44,600 extra jobs. In one year. How hard can it be to find a job if you really want and need one?

Interviewed by Mike Hosking earlier this week, former WINZ boss Christine Rankin said that the target reduction "can be done in way under the time frame they've put on it". She should know.

To achieve the target the government says there will be, "a stronger focus on helping 18–24-year-olds on Jobseeker Support into jobs." Announcing where a stronger focus will be risks the pressure going off other beneficiaries in the minds of both case managers and clients. Numbers on the Sole Parent Support (ex DPB) have been increasing steadily. Given sole parent households contribute substantially to inter-generational dependency, they merit no less focus than Jobseekers.

Reaching the reduced goal will happen by, "making it easier for people with work obligations to understand and meet expectations."  How hard can it be to understand an obligation to find work? Isn't this simply an acknowledgement that over the past six years, obligations became fuzzy and weak? So why is a reversal of Labour's soft approach couched in such ... soft language?

And what about those who don't have work obligations?

In 2012, during Paula Bennett's time as minister, obligations were placed on single parents to return to work earlier if they had an additional child while receiving a benefit. Carmel Sepuloni removed that requirement effectively allowing the birth of more babies to be used to avoid working. 

As it is sole parents have no work obligations until their youngest turns three (and then it is only to seek part-time work.) Three years is inconsistent with the time most working mothers take out of the workforce.

The government's second target appears no less lacking in ambition.  Emergency housing numbers have already been tracking down. Depicting them next to the 2029 target looks like this:

A continuation of whatever policy operated between 2022 and 2024, which saw a 39 percent reduction in emergency housing, would see the target of 750 met much sooner than 2029.

Come on National.

You were elected to be bold. Kids in emergency housing don't have the luxury of time. 

Neither does the rest of country. Our deep-seated, long-standing dependency problem, which is an economic handbrake and social disaster, needs urgent reform - not timid targets.

Lindsay Mitchell blogs here

1,686 views43 comments


Perhaps Governments promised reduction in jobseeker numbers is not as 'timid' as Mr. Mitchell believes? By their own hand, and in little over 100 days, they have swelled these numbers by some 2000 public servants [and counting]. Of course this may be just a pot-hole and their promised economic upturn for 'hard working Kiwis' might soon swallow this aberration? However, that the Reserve Bank can maintain the high OCR without regard for unemployment ratios, that private sector lay=offs from Bunnings, Warehouse, Media et al, and with business' reporting reduced turnover. Governments prediction might be highly optimistic?


The 1st thing more people need to understand is that the rich do NOT pay most of the taxes.

As a life long business owner, I understood that THE TAXES PAID ON MY BUSINESS PROFITS WERE INCLUDED IN THE PRICES OF THE GOODS AND SERVIVCES. Consumers of goods and services pay the money to providers of goods and services and those providers pass some of it on to the government as tax on profits.

The majority of consumers are WAGE AND SALARY EARNERS and they provide the money that the rich people pay in taxes.

Their efforts also have to earn a business more than they cost, so some of the business profits come from their time and labour. I am not…

Replying to

It seems so many don't understand that you work without receiving to pay taxes.

Plus the taxes paid by Public Servants have mostly come from taxes paid already by those in the private sector


Announcing where a stronger focus will be risks the pressure going off other beneficiaries…”

And also risks the kind of ‘sleight of hand’ to meet targets that politicians are renowned for: simply transferring people to a different benefit.

A broader and more ambitious target would have been much better.


Welfare is socialism by stealth. I.e. taking from hard working kiwis trying their best to make a crust and giving it to the lazy, whining, entitled bottom feeders. Euphemistically referred to as "redistribution". Any form of redistribution needs to be abolished.


Because it's socialism in disguise. The pernicious marxist maxim of "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need" has infiltrated the fabric of New Zealand society and comes to us in such forms as the NZ welfare system, public health, public schools, ACC levy, NZ superannuation.

All of it needs to be abolished and replaced by private systems paired with such personal values as a strong work ethic and wise financial prudence to plan…


It's going to take more than simply dusting around the edges to cure the real problem that is the elephant in the room, poisoning and consigning this country into a state of never ending dependence because any government, from any background or color, needs the public service as it stands to enable it to operate.

Or. Does it? Not really.

I've long been a supporter of the private sector running the important and most valuable ministries, that have to answer to us to justify every damned fuckup and mistake , not hide behind beauacracy and remain faceless in the name of falure. Continously evidence based faliure.

No targets, no matter.

Get rid of the whole rotten setup, and appoint …

Replying to

Never working in the public service have you Aaron.

It shows.

Without a public service most if not all the services they provide would not exist as we are too small a market to provide those essential services.

There is a price we have to pay to live in such a small country globally with and enormous number of indolent who elect to let others pay for the lifestyle they seek.

While not overly efficient most of the things you enjoy in life can be traced back to a public servant at some level.

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