$78 billion

Kate Chapman at Stuff reports:

The lifetime cost of current beneficiaries is more than $78 billion, a new report has found.

An actuarial valuation conducted as part of the Government’s welfare reforms shows the average total cost of all who had received a working-age benefit in the year to June 30, 2011 was $78.1b.

Of that, $17.8b came from those who started out on the DPB, $19.1b from those on an invalid’s benefit and $7.2b to those who were on a sickness benefit.

Just five per cent of the total cost, or $4b, was from those who started out on an unemployment benefit.

They’re some large figures, and do demonstrate why it it important to reduce the numbers of people long-term on welfare. Those on the dole tend to be for a short period of time. It is the other three major benefits which have the bigger impact.

But the fiscal cost is not the main reason we should try and reduce the number of people on long-term welfare. It is for the benefit of those actually on welfare. There are a small number of people who are genuinely incapable of ever being able to do any paid work – and they should get gold plated support.

But most people are capable of some work, even a few hours a week. Yes they’ll still need income support, but being in work benefits people not just financially, but physically, emotionally and mentally.

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