Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Government keeps pressure on benefit fraudsters

Government keeps pressure on benefit fraudsters

New strategies introduced by the Government to catch people committing benefit fraud are working, Associate Minister of Social Services and Employment Rick Barker said.

“In 1999 the Ministry of Social Development introduced early intervention programmes to prevent people getting caught up in a cycle of debt and fraud.

“The programmes ensure clients receive their full and correct entitlement and are aware of the obligation to inform Work and Income if their circumstances change.

“The Ministry has also run local public education campaigns to raise awareness of benefit entitlements and the consequences of committing fraud.

“At the same time the Ministry has got tougher on people caught committing benefit fraud and increased the number of prosecutions by 300%.

In 1996-1997, 534 people were prosecuted for benefit fraud but by 2001-2002, the number of prosecutions reached 1987.

In addition, Mr Barker said $260 million was recovered by Work and Income in 2002 from benefit clients.

“Increased prosecutions, coupled with early intervention programmes have seen both the amount of fraud detected and average size of individual fraud overpayments decrease.

“In 1999 the Ministry detected just over 13,000 cases of fraud compared to 10,000 last year, while the average amount of individual fraud overpayments fell by nearly $6000 per case to $4,500.”

Mr Barker said the size of current individual debt demonstrated the success and importance of the early intervention programmes.

However, for some beneficiaries it would be a long and difficult path to repay some debts.

“Some Work and Income clients have debts so large that it will be years before they pay back the money. The only solution is to stop people getting into these situations in the first place.”

In the past Mr Barker said the Ministry had often been criticised for being too tough on beneficiaries.

“The solution is to ensure that there is a good balance between detecting fraud and stopping clients racking up large debts by making sure they receive all the help they are entitled to.

“I certainly believe the Ministry’s prosecutions and debt recovery results show that they’ve got the balance about right,” Mr Barker said.

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Werewolf: What Does Winston Peters Want His Legacy To Be?

A lot of people in New Zealand seem to resent Winston Peters and the power that he appears to have. “Appears” being the operative word. In reality, Peters will have power only up to the point that he uses it.

By next week, he’ll have become just another junior player in an MMP governing arrangement, battling to hold onto the gains he was promised. More>>


Rising Toll: Road Safety Needs To Be A Higher Priority

Official advice released to the Green Party under the Official Information Act shows that the previous National Government dismissed an option to make road safety its most important transport priority after being told the road toll was rising. More>>


Wellington.Scoop: Arrests At Blockade Of "Weapons Expo"

“We encourage people in Wellington to get down to the Westpac Stadium now for a day of awesome peace action. There will be plenty of food, music and activities to keep us sustained through the day.” More>>


Rorschach Restructuring: PSA Taking Inland Revenue To Court Over Psychometrics

The Public Service Association will be seeing Inland Revenue in Employment Court over its intention to psychometrically test employees reapplying for their roles at the department as part of its controversial Business Transformation restructuring plan. More>>


Nuclear Disarmament: Nobel Peace Prize 2017 Awarded To ICAN

Congratulations from iCAN Aotearoa New Zealand to international iCAN, the other iCAN national campaigns and partner organisations, and the countless organisations and individuals who have worked so hard for a nuclear weapons-free world since 1945. More>>


Expenses: Waikato DHB CEO Resigns

An independent inquiry has identified that Dr Murray had spent more than the agreed $25K allocated for relocation costs, and other unauthorized expenses involving potential financial breaches of the chief executive’s obligations. More>>


Wellington.Scoop: Sad About The Trolley Buses?

The Regional Council’s MetLink is today spending money to tell us that it really loves Wellington’s trolley buses, even though they’re all being taken off our roads by the end of this month. More>>


Post-Election: Preliminary Coalition Talks Begin

New Zealand First will hold post-election preliminary discussions in Wellington with the National Party tomorrow morning and the Labour Party tomorrow afternoon. More>>




Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election