[Sitting date: 08 May 2012. Volume:679;Page:1997. Text is incorporated into the Bound Volume.]
JACINDA ARDERN (Labour) to the
Minister for Social Development: What proportion of the 87,000 young people not in employment, training or education will be assisted by her youth services package?
Hon PAULA BENNETT (Minister for Social Development)
: Yesterday’s announcement targets around 14,000 16 and 17-year-old “neets”, and around 3,000 16 to 18-year-olds on benefit. The package is targeted at those who are most at risk. Evidence tells us that the earlier we intervene, the better outcomes we will get. In addition to this, we spend on young people aged 18 years and over about $40 million a year through Work and Income on employment and training - focused assistance, $1.2 billion through the Tertiary Education Commission for tertiary and workplace training, and $43 million for industry training. This package is unapologetic in targeting support to those young people who need it most.
Jacinda Ardern: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I hate to be picky, but I did put on notice this question in order for the Minister to express as a proportion—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I am dealing with the noise that erupted in the House there. A point of order was called, and members are not at liberty to make that kind of noise when a point of order is called. I did hear the point of order the member was raising, and I accept what she is saying. The question did ask what proportion, and instead of giving a proportion the Minister gave exactly the figures. Seventeen over 87 is not beyond the member’s wit, and I do not think we need to get too picky.
Hon Member: Can you do it?
Hon Member: 20 percent.
Jacinda Ardern: Sixteen percent. Why is she cutting the number of young people eligible for assistance into work, training, or education through her youth services by up to half, in some cases, but spending more money on those services?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: That is a good question, and the answer is because, quite frankly, if you scattergun the money across and give a lot just a little, then you will not get the kinds of results that one needs for these young people. So we are targeting it to those who are most at risk, and those are the 16 and 17-year-olds who are currently completely disengaged, who have actually fallen out of education, and who are currently lost. Some of them will need a light touch, but many of them will actually need far more intensive support, and we are going to wrap that support round them and hopefully stop that track that they are on towards long-term welfare receipt.
Jacinda Ardern: How will an 18-year-old who did not do well in school have any chance of getting back into training or education when they no longer have access to foundation classes, and are they not at risk too?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: It is simply not true that 18-year-olds will not have access to foundation classes; they will. We are still spending more than $40 million a year on that 18-plus age group, who can get employment assistance. There are still places for them in tertiary institutions, and they will be given support to get into them, but we will be focusing on those 16 and 17-year-olds who are currently completely disengaged. They are on a fast track to long-term welfare receipt, and we can do better by them.
Jacinda Ardern: Will successful services like Youth Transition Services, championed by the chair of the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs, Dale Williams, be eligible for funding under this model, or will it close, as the mayor contends?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: Yes, he will be eligible, if he has put an application in.
Jacinda Ardern: Has she spoken to those working on the front line of Youth Transition Services, who say that 70 percent of the clientele whom they work with move into work at 16 and 17, and are in need of their services once they hit 18?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: I spend a lot of time talking to front-line services, and particularly those with Youth Transition Services. For example, the ones in my own patch actually tell me that more than 70 percent of the young people who are going through there are 16 and 17 years old, and that is the reality for it—the New Lynn one, so you can go and visit it, if you like. The reality is that it is those 16 and 17-year-olds who need the most help. Some of it needs to be pretty intensive, and we are putting the money in to back them.