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Maharey Just A Puppet On A String

Maharey Just A Puppet On A String

ACT New Zealand Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today labelled Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey a puppet of the Beneficiaries Unions, in light of new information showing huge debts across all benefits

"Figures released in response to my written Parliamentary Questions show that the top five benefit debts owed by recipients of the Invalids, Unemployment, Sickness and Domestic Purposes Benefits all exceed $100,000," Dr Newman said.

"The total debt owed is $2,847,716, and the highest individual debt is $223,978.75.

"It is clear that these beneficiaries have been accumulating these debts for years. All of these cases involve benefit fraud. It is the loose restrictions on receiving a benefit, and changes to the way benefit fraud is investigated, that are responsible for such massive debts.

"Having relaxed such guidelines, in response to demands from the Beneficiaries Unions, the Minister has shown that he cares more about their support than he does about the rights of taxpayers.

"The Beneficiaries Unions presented the Minister with more than 100 demands - including the cutting back of benefit debt recovery when Labour took office. Answers to further Parliamentary Questions showed that, of 2,872 cases where debt was being paid back at more than $40 per week, 1,787 had their payment rates reduced.

"This change - and others, including the relaxation of fraud detection - have made it easier for beneficiaries to accumulate debt, and harder for the Government to recover it. Instead of taking a zero tolerance approach to benefit fraud - to protect the integrity of the benefit system - we have a Minister committed to the soft-on-welfare approach which has left our welfare system in a shambles," Dr Newman said.

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