Kim Fulton is a NZME. News Service regional reporter

Fewer receiving benefits in region

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Hawke's Bay Chamber of Commerce CEO Wayne Walford said the high number of seasonal jobs in the region was a likely reason for the drop in benefit payments.
Hawke's Bay Chamber of Commerce CEO Wayne Walford said the high number of seasonal jobs in the region was a likely reason for the drop in benefit payments.

The number of Hawke's Bay people receiving welfare payments has declined over the past three years.

Ministry of Social Development figures show 13,298 Hawke's Bay people received the main benefits at the end of 2015.

That figure was down 229 on the same time the previous year and down 648 on December 2013.

Maori made up nearly half of beneficiaries at the end of last year and more females received benefits than males. The age bracket with the most beneficiaries was 25 to 39 years.

Just over two-thirds of beneficiaries had been receiving benefits for more than a year.

Hastings Budget Advisory Service co-ordinator Kristal Leach said the Hawke's Bay economy was growing and there were more employment opportunities in the region.

She said the service saw 1000 clients a year and 60 per cent of them were on a main benefit.

Traditionally Hawke's Bay's big employers such as the meatworks, orchards, pack houses, McCain and Wattie's ramped up their staff at this time of year.

The Budget Advisory Service was usually quiet between January and April as people who were usually on benefits and seeking budgeting advice were working. Those people would return to a benefit at the end of their employer's busy season.

Nationwide the number of people receiving a main benefit fell by 2.5 per cent in the last 12 months.

Ministry of Social Development figures show 301,349 working-age people, or 10.7 per cent of the working-age population, were receiving a main benefit at the end of December 2015.

According to the figures, 57.4 per cent of main benefit recipients were female and 42.6 per cent were male. Around three-quarters of main benefit recipients had been receiving a benefit continuously for more than one year.

Hawke's Bay Chamber of Commerce CEO Wayne Walford said that with the increase in job advertisements and employer confidence the drop in welfare payments lines up.

He believed that a number of sectors were becoming more prevalent in the region.

"A year ago, one organisation was looking for 10 engineers so hopefully those types of positions are being filled."

He said the high number of seasonal jobs in the region was a likely reason for the drop in payments.

"Hopefully people are realising that jobs in horticulture and agriculture have career paths attached to them."

He was confident the trend would continue.

"I agree there is a more positive view of commerce at the moment, it's about sustainability from sector to sector and we need to maintain it."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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