Twice as many teens on benefit

The Dominion Post 07 January 2008

The number of teenagers on the sickness benefit has more than doubled since 2000, and poor mental health, particularly depression, is cited as a factor. Government figures show there were 2196 young people aged from 16 to 19on a sickness benefit last year, up from 1077 in 2000. The number of teenagers on the invalid benefit had also increased from 1934 to 2779 during the same period.

Social Development and Employment Minister Ruth Dyson was not concerned about the figures, saying the overall increase was “hardly a change at all”. National welfare spokeswoman Judith Collins, who issued the figures, urged the Government to do more to help. “We are talking about kids. There is no way this many should be claiming a sickness benefit. It is very alarming and I find it quite shocking.”