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Report Highlights Serious Welfare Flaws

Report Highlights Serious Welfare Flaws

Wednesday 10 Dec 2003 Dr Muriel Newman Press Releases -- Social Welfare

The Controller and Auditor-General's report into the accuracy of social security benefit administration, released to Parliament today, raises serious concerns about the Social Development Ministry's administration of benefits, ACT New Zealand Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman said today.

"The report `Social Security Benefits: Accuracy of Benefit Administration' was produced in response to concerns surrounding MSD's administration of nearly $12 billion of Crown funding," Dr Newman said.

"The report raises significant issues: there appears to be a lack of best practice information-sharing between the regions - including improvements in managing caseloads and achieving and maintaining the accuracy of benefit payments - the use of team coaches, and in promoting the accuracy of benefit payments.

"An area of particular concern was the failure of Accuracy Reporting Programmes, to measure and report accuracy of `unverifiable' cases. These `unverifiable cases' may well be a link to more substantive flaws in the system but, because the Ministry excludes them from its samples, these flaws remain hidden.

"Further, the report identifies that fraud overpayment estimates are not carried out on a regular basis, and recommends that a risk-sizing exercise - to estimate the amount of overpayments and fraud - be conducted regularly.

"In light of the substantial increase in welfare benefit payments that are now being administered by the department - almost 1.5 million benefit applications from around 370,000 beneficiaries - accuracy remains an issue of paramount importance to beneficiaries and taxpayers alike," Dr Newman said.

ENDS


For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.


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