Over the past day or so there has been much speculation about what is "the underclass", mentioned in John Key's speech. The underclass is not all low income people, nor is it all beneficaries. Some people ( Jordan Carter comes to mind) seem to think that we don't have a growing underclass because beneficiary numbers have not increased, they have decreased. Long term unemployed has decreased as well and many of them are on the sickness benefit now.
Key has defined the underclass as those who feel " locked out of society", ie: those who feel they have no hope. He was referring to long term unemployed, but could easily have referred to people in crappy dead end low paid, sometimes part -time cleaning jobs who spend their spare time looking for work and get food grants to get by. He was not referring to all those in receipt of an unemployment benefit. Those who are on an invalids benefit, those who are unemployed because they can't read or write - including teenagers who are not eliible for a benefit but dont attend school - stand those who have given up hope of finding a job - the long term unemployed - are the locked out ones, as are their dependents and partners. Of course the long term and repeat prison population would be described as the locked in ones, unless they are on parole or on home detention.
This underclass is emerging, and I challenge any one to prove me wrong. For a start, long term unemployment has actually increased, rather than decreased in the past few years.