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Leaping Figures Must Be Addressed

Leaping Figures Must Be Addressed

ACT New Zealand Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today described Social Service and Employment Minister Steve Maharey's response to the DPB problem as pathetic, in light of new figures showing that the number of women on the DPB who have refused to name the father of their child has now increased to one in six.

"Answers to my written Parliamentary Questions show that the number of DPB mothers who will not name the fathers of their children has leaped 619 in the past two months, from 16,498 to 17,117," Dr Newman said.

"Mr Maharey has known that the numbers are rapidly increasing - yet this week he admitted in Parliament that his so-called tough talk, to further reduce DPB payments for mothers who refuse to name the father of their children, is nothing more than an inflation adjustment.

"The 70A deduction, for mothers who will not name the father of their children, has not been inflation adjusted since 1992. By altering it to meet today's inflation levels, the deduction will only be increased by around $5.

"This soft on welfare Minister is using an inflation adjustment to sound like he is genuinely trying to crack down on welfare - but the facts tell a different story.

"Social welfare is a safety net, a hand up for those who truly need it. There are some genuinely needy women who - through exceptional circumstances - should not be expected to name the father of their children. It appears, however, that most are simply shielding fathers from their financial responsibility, and denying their children the right to know their father.

"It is long past time for the Minister to prove that he is more than just a puppet of the Beneficiary Union, and to put in place proper penalties - such as the loss of the DPB - for those women who are ripping the system off," Dr Newman said.

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