Social Development Minister Paula Bennett is refusing to rule out extending the Government's newly proposed welfare payment card to adult beneficiaries.
Bennett has also denied flip-flopping on the payment cards which she described in a letter earlier this year as "highly intrusive".
The National Party unveiled its youth welfare policy at its annual conference at the weekend which will give payment cards to about 2600 young beneficiaries to ensure their benefits are spent on essentials.
The cards will be given to 16 and 17-year-olds out of work and training and 18-year-olds on the domestic purposes benefit.
On Monday at his post Cabinet media conference, Prime Minister John Key suggested there was little interest in extending the payment card.
However, Bennett today said it would be pre-preemptive to rule anything out because the Government was still working its way through extensive recommendations by the Welfare Working Group.
"I can't say it's a priority and I don't think it will be," Bennett told Radio New Zealand. "But I can't rule anything out at this stage."
The Government was currently looking at other beneficiary groups. "I can't say that a payment card is high on our agenda as far as what we are doing in that next stage of work."
The Government had been using payment cards for about two-and-a-half years, she said.
"I introduced them for all the hardship assistance and special needs grants. People asked me for them because they feel that before they had to take a letter along to the supermarket and they thought that was embarrassing and demoralising. So most are celebrating the payment card."
A letter tabled in Parliament yesterday which was written by Bennett in March said a special credit card system for beneficiaries would required the Government to make "moral judgements about the appropriateness of each decision".
"Such oversight by the Crown would be highly intrusive and would rob individuals of their freedom of choice," Bennett wrote.
This morning the minister denied the youth welfare policy was a backtrack. "How ridiculous to say it is a backtrack," she said.
"You've got a letter from me responding to a very different proposal from someone that wrote to me. He was suggesting a credit card that goes across the whole benefit system that has all payments on it. It is not at all what we have just proposed."
Bennett said she saw young beneficiaries as a very different cohort. "I'm really concerned about them. I do see this as a bit intrusive and I do see it as hands on, but I think there are exceptional circumstances in this case and am prepared to do that. In fact I almost feel a moral obligation to do that."
Meanwhile, figures are flying as youth unemployment becomes a political tennis ball.
Key has rejected the Household Labour Force survey - long considered the official measure of unemployment - saying it is "of no value to me".
The Household Labour Force Survey conducted by Statistics New Zealand found unemployment in the 15-24-year-old category fell by 3.6 per cent to 17.4 per cent in the year June.
However the fall was largely driven by those at the older end of the age bracket.
The survey also looks at the proportion of 15-24-year-olds not in employment, education or training.
In the 12 months to June that figure was 62,300.
Labour has been quoting the unemployment figure for 15-24-year-olds as a record 58,000.
But Key said yesterday he did not rely on the Household Labour Force Survey.
It was a subjective set of data and counted people as unemployed if they were looking for one hour or more of work a week, he said.
He believed 60 per cent of 15 - 19-year-olds listed as unemployed in the household labour force were at school or university.
Government researchers and Treasury had calculated that between 8500 and 13,500 people aged 16 - 17 or five per cent of 15 - 19-year-olds were not in work, education or training.
Youth unemployment was most accurately measured by the number of people aged 18 to 24 on the dole, currently about 16,000, Key said.