Call to change sickness benefit criteria
NZPA | Thursday, 12 April 2007

Labour should fast-track promised changes to criteria for the sickness benefit in light of new figures showing the numbers on that benefit continue to rise, National's welfare spokeswoman Judith Collins said today.

Yesterday the Government released data showing the number of people on the unemployment benefit dropped by a third in the past year and the overall working-age beneficiary numbers dropped by 34 per cent since 1999.

Unemployment beneficiary numbers dropped from 44,549 at the end of March 2006 to 28,845 at the end of March this year - a decline of 35 per cent.

The number of solo mums and dads on the domestic purposes benefit also dropped 6 per cent over the same period.

But the figures show the number of people receiving the sickness and invalid's benefits continued to grow, by 4 per cent and 3 per cent respectively.

Since 1999 sickness benefit numbers have risen by 46 per cent and invalid's benefit numbers by 47 per cent.

Ms Collins said the sickness and invalids benefits were defying gravity.

"There is no epidemic of sickness and injury in New Zealand," Ms Collins said.

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