Job­less num­bers soar

Central Leader - - News - By Carly Tawhiao

THE NUM­BER of cen­tral Auck­lan­ders re­ceiv­ing the un­em­ploy­ment ben­e­fit has nearly tripled in the last year, but a bud­get­ing ex­pert is warn­ing the worst is yet to come.

Fig­ures re­leased last week by the Min­istry of So­cial De­vel­op­ment show 3265 peo­ple in the cen­tral city, Avon­dale, Mt Al­bert, Mt Eden, One­hunga, Pon­sonby, Grey Lynn, Pt Che­va­lier and Three Kings were re­ceiv­ing the un­em­ploy­ment ben­e­fit in the year end­ing March, 2009.

That com­pares with 1171 peo­ple in the same ar­eas re­ceiv­ing it at the same time last year.

But Auck­land Cen­tral Bud­get­ing Con­sul­tants man­ager Pam McKen­zie says the most re­cent fig­ures are the tip of the ice­berg of what is ex­pected to come as un­em­ployed pro­fes­sion­als try to find work and more peo­ple are made re­dun­dant.

“It’s just start­ing to hit us re­ally. Peo­ple who are be­ing made re­dun­dant are com­ing to see us and ask­ing what they should do.”

Fig­ures show that those re­ceiv­ing some form of ben­e­fit in th­ese cen­tral re­gions is 367 shy of 2004’s 17,412 re­cip­i­ents.

Of th­ese, sickness and in­valid ben­e­fi­ciary num­bers con­tinue to rise, with the num­ber of sickness ben­e­fi­cia­ries ser­viced by Auck­land city’s cen­tre nearly dou­bling from 468 to 827 over the last 12 months.

“More peo­ple are go­ing on to the sickness ben­e­fit be­cause of the stress of los­ing jobs,” says Ms McKen­zie.

“With debt to pay off and fam­i­lies to sup­port, the prospect of un­em­ploy­ment is mak­ing peo­ple phys­i­cally ill.”

Al­though un­em­ploy­ment ben­e­fits from Auck­land’s cen­tral cen­tres have al­most tripled in 12 months, they are still down 36 per­cent on 2004’s fig­ures.

“It’s in­creased mainly be­cause in good times peo­ple have taken on too much credit,” says Ms McKen­zie.

“Now it’s cre­at­ing fi­nan­cial stress as cars, homes and fur­nish­ings get re­pos­sessed.”

Ms McKen­zie says she strongly rec­om­mends peo­ple seek bud­get ad­vice be­fore debt re­pay­ments go into ar­rears by work­ing out on a piece of pa­per what their debts are and what in­come is com­ing in.

The gov­ern­ment has also put in place a tran­si­tional as­sis­tance pack­age for work­ers who are made re­dun­dant that pro­vides up to $160 ex­tra for those al­ready re­ceiv­ing help.

“It’s a top-up for the un­em­ploy­ment ben­e­fit for 16 weeks in the hope they are able to get an­other job,” says Ms McKen­zie.

The Min­istry of So­cial De­vel­op­ment has bud­geted on as many as 70,000 peo­ple na­tion­wide ac­cess­ing the scheme over its two-year life span.

At the end of March 2009, 289,000 work­ing aged peo­ple were re­ceiv­ing main so­cial se­cu­rity ben­e­fits com­pared with 313,000 in March 2004 and 256,000 in March 2008.

Na­tion­ally fig­ures show the num­ber of peo­ple on the un­em­ploy­ment ben­e­fit was at its low­est level in March 2008 with fewer than 20,000 re­cip­i­ents.

Al­though this num­ber has al­most dou­bled in just a year, 10 years ago 144,895 were re­ceiv­ing fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance.

Min­is­ter of So­cial De­vel­op­ment and Em­ploy­ment Paula Ben­nett says while more peo­ple con­tinue to exit the labour force, the num­ber of those par­tic­i­pat­ing is still at its sec­ond high­est level ever.

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