Social Development Minister Paula Bennett is defending welfare changes by the Government, saying people are not being forced off benefits.
A report last year showed the ''lifetime" cost of all those who were on a benefit in the year to June 30, 2011 would add up to $78 billion if they stayed on it.
Figures from Work and Income show that 12 people have been on the unemployment benefit for 15 years or more and four people have been on that same benefit for 20 years or more.
But Ms Bennett said on Nine to Noon that if there is no work for people to go to, then they will not be forced off the benefit.
She says the welfare system should be there to support people during tough times and she wants people to get the help they need.