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Benefit issues under investigation

31 January 2002 Media Statement

Benefit issues under investigation

Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey has reiterated that the administration of the special benefit is being examined by the Ministry of Social Development with assistance from benefit advocates.

Steve Maharey was responding to criticism from the Palmerston North Poverty Action Group that special benefit criteria appear to be being applied differently by Work and Income staff across the country.

“At the end of last year Ministry of Social Development Chief Executive Peter Hughes was briefed by benefit advocates on the results of their survey of the special benefit. On the face of it, the survey points to beneficiaries being more or less likely to get the special benefit depending on which Work and Income office they apply at.

“As was reported earlier this month, following the briefing the Ministry of Social Development agreed to jointly work through the information with benefit advocates and to iron out any problems which it reveals.

“It is not acceptable or appropriate for anyone to individually target Work and Income staff, as has been suggested today.

“The constructive way forward on this issue is to engage in the process which is already underway,” Steve Maharey said.

ENDS

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