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Maharey Fails To Right Benefit Fraud

Maharey Fails To Right Benefit Fraud

New information hows that Social Services and Employment Minister Maharey is still failing to get on top of New Zealand's serious benefit fraud problem, ACT New Zealand Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman said today.

"Answers to my written Parliamentary Questions have revealed that, as of December 17 2003, the highest Sickness Benefit fraud debt stood at $125,080.61 - and is being repaid at $15 a week," Dr Newman said.

"This is followed by debts of $106,660.35, repaid at $21 a week; $100,078.66 at $10.50 a week; $99,057.42 at $10 a week; and $96,131.99 at $5 a week. In total, these debts amount to $437,009.03 which, at a repayment rate of $61.50, will take 136 years to repay.

"It is appalling that the Labour Government has become so soft on fraud detection that it has allowed these debts to grow so large. And, with more and more people moving onto the Sickness Benefit - an increase of 23 percent from 1999-2003 - commonsense tells us that this problem will only get worse.

"Benefit fraud undermines the integrity of the entire benefit system, and erodes the confidence of the very taxpayers who fund welfare. It is imperative that the Government adopts a zero tolerance approach to benefit fraud, which must be addressed urgently.

"Sadly, the incompetent Labour Government has failed completely in that regard. Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey has allowed benefit debts to spiral out of control to levels where it is impossible for them to be paid back," Dr Newman said.

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