Weekend Sun column

Friday, March 27, 2015

Last week Social Development Anne Tolley announced that the number of teen parents on a benefit has nearly halved since 2009. This is in part due to an improving economy and the creation of more jobs, and also the significant work and focus the National-led Government has put into getting people off welfare and into work.

Figures show there were 48 per cent fewer teen mums on benefits at the end of 2014 compared to 2009. This is the lowest level since 1988 and means 30,000 fewer children are living in benefit-dependent households.

We have taken a more ‘hands-on’ approach to teen parents, pairing them with a mentor who can work with them to get into education or training and help them manage their money and pay their bills. We have also increased access to budgeting and parenting courses, as well as childcare.

We are committed to supporting people get off benefits and into education or work. We have set a target of reducing the total number of people on a benefit by 25 per cent by 2017, and the number of young people on a benefit by 40 per cent. This is the best way to break the cycle of long-term welfare dependency.

A significant part of my job as your Member of Parliament is to advocate for and represent your views in Wellington. With this in mind, I have decided to hold a public meeting to give you all the opportunity to come along and ask me questions or share your views and concerns about local and national issues. This will be on the evening of 15 April at Tauranga Boys’ College. Please contact my office on (07) 577 0923 or email maree.brookes@parliament.govt.nz for more information.