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Inmate benefit payments show Govt soft-on-welfare

Inmate benefit payments show Govt soft-on-welfare

Tuesday 8 Feb 2005

Dr Muriel Newman - Press Releases - Social Welfare

The mistaken payment of benefits to prison inmates is just another example of the Labour Government's soft-on-welfare approach, ACT Deputy Leader and Social Welfare spokesman Dr Muriel Newman said today.

The MP was responding to figures released by the Ministry of Social Development that reveal it wrongly paid 3,762 prisoners $1.8 million in benefits last year.

"It is of great concern that no one appeared to be taking the problem seriously. The issue of misusing taxpayers' money to pay prisoners should have been addressed sooner," Dr Newman said.

"The Government's dilly-dallying on this matter highlights its lax approach to benefit fraud and debt collection. Yet again it shows Labour has little regard for hard-working Kiwis who pay the taxes and expect accountability and close monitoring by their government.

"Surely the Government can suspend all benefit payments the same day the criminal is jailed? No one will accept for a moment that issues around the Privacy Act mean it takes weeks for benefits to get cut.

Dr Newman called on Social Development Minister Steve Maharey to promise taxpayers that the $1.8 million unlawfully paid out to inmates will be fully recovered as a matter of urgency.

"The Minister has a duty to all New Zealanders to recover this money. It is money that would be better spent on police patrolling our streets and tackling our soaring violent crime problem. ACT will toughen up on welfare abuse in government," Dr Newman said.

ENDS

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