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Government Invited Benefit Scam

26 July 2004

Government Invited Benefit Scam

New Zealand First social services spokesperson Bill Gudgeon says he’s not surprised by claims that increasing numbers of unemployed people are signing up for sickness benefits to avoid work testing by Work and Income.

“For some time now New Zealand First has expressed scepticism at Government claims that unemployment figures are at the lowest they have been in 14 years,” said Mr Gudgeon.

“The number of people claiming sickness and invalids benefits have increased by 23 percent since the start of 2000 and no explanation has been given by Mr Maharey for this increase.

“The problem we are now facing as a result of this is the mounting pressure on doctors to certify able-bodied beneficiaries as unfit for work so they can claim the sickness benefit.

“We have repeatedly asked Mr Maharey to identify the new beneficiaries and explain whether they are long-term unemployed or simply a change in classification.

“His failure to answer these questions is resulting in a greater number of people seeking the easy way to claim a benefit when they are really fit to work,” said Mr Gudgeon.

ENDS

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