Lindsay Mitchell has been researching and commenting on welfare since 2001. Many of her articles have been published in mainstream media and she has appeared on radio,tv and before select committees discussing issues relating to welfare. Lindsay is also an artist who works under commission and exhibits at Wellington, New Zealand, galleries.

The following exchange took place between Mike Hosking and Stuart Nash on NewstalkZB (8:15) yesterday morning:

MH: TV One last night, so you pay people $5,000 to move to a job … claim is 1/ they quit when they arrive and scarper 2/ you guys at the Ministry no longer follow up. Why?

SN: Yeah, I heard that Mike and I’m not aware of that. I will follow that up because if it is happening it’s completely against the spirit of the policy and programme. I’ll see if it is happening and if MSD aren’t following up or people are abusing the system in that way then that’s wrong.

MH: And the Ministry has also given up on social checks. So the social responsibility that was brought in by National in 2013 – you enrol your kid with a doctor, you get your kid into school, and that’s part of being on welfare – you’ve given up chasing that as well because you claim it’s too administratively difficult. How is that possible?

SN: I’m not aware of that Mike. But one thing we are doing and one thing we do is ensure that people are work ready. So if you are on a Jobseeker benefit we work really hard to make sure you can get into a job and we’ve got one of the lowest unemployment numbers in the OECD…

MH/ Why do we have 115,000 people on unemployment longer than 12 months if there are so many jobs and they are all work ready?

SN/ What economists will tell you – and this is under any government – well, it varies between 3 and 4 per cent of the workforce is unemployable. This is where the marginal cost of getting that person into work is just huge. What we do is work incredibly hard with those people who want to get into work which is to be honest the vast majority of New Zealanders. There’s always been, Mike, that rump at the bottom who don’t want to work or it’s very impossible to get them to work or there is some reason why they can’t work.

This is the first time I have heard a government MP talk about accepting unemployability. ‘Shrug – it’s just a fact of life.’

Neither am I aware of economists agreeing on some inherent level of unemployability occurrence. Economists do talk about a minimum unemployment rate of around 3-4 percent which will always exist as people move between jobs and are not working.

People couldn’t become unemployable if there wasn’t an alternative to working for money. The benefit system creates a vicious cycle. Paying indefinite benefits makes some people unemployable therefore requiring more benefits.

Just last week Nash said gangs aren’t a problem (“You have nothing to fear”)  and now he says unemployability should be tolerated. 

What a no-hoper – literally.

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Stuart Nash on Unemployability
Reproduced with permission

Reproduced with permission

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