What is the Government doing to support sole parents off benefits and into study?
STUART SMITH to the Minister for Social Development: What is the Government doing to support sole parents off benefits and into study?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY (Minister for Social Development): In July we aligned the accommodation supplement and the accommodation benefit. This means that sole parents who take up full-time study are now eligible to receive the same rate of accommodation support that they would on a main benefit.
I am pleased to report that 598 applications have been approved in just the first 2 months and the majority of these students are now receiving between $60 and $225 per week, depending on their circumstances. Previously the maximum they could receive under the student support system was $60 a week.
Stuart Smith: What are the benefits of tertiary education for people on benefits?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: Each year we see approximately 20,000 clients exit a benefit to take up full-time study. Research shows that those completing level 4 qualifications or above were between 9 and 19 percent more likely to get work within 5 years of starting their study. Beneficiaries who completed levels 1 to 3 qualifications were 5 percent more likely to be employed within that same period.
We also know that on average beneficiaries with a tertiary qualification spend 6½ years less on a benefit. This Government is focused on providing a range of options to improve the employment prospects of young people in New Zealand.