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Most prisoners rip off benefits

Hon Tony Ryall MP - National Law and Order spokesman

8 February 2005

Most prisoners rip off benefits

National's Law and Order spokesman, Tony Ryall, says criminals should automatically lose their welfare benefits the day they arrive in prison.

Social Development Minister Steve Maharey, in answer to written questions by Mr Ryall, says that half of the country's 6500 prisoners were caught last year wrongly receiving welfare benefits worth more than $1.8 million.

According to Ministry of Social Development figures, 3762 prisoners continued to receive a benefit while in prison, despite the fact that prisoners are not eligible for welfare.

The Ministry says 54% of those were receiving the unemployment benefit and 22% were receiving the sickness benefit.

"With a stronger focus on getting people off benefits and into work, we can reduce the likelihood of offending by some of these people," Mr Ryall says.

"If they are busy working there is no time to commit crime.

"This nonsense of benefits for crims has got to stop.

"This seems to be another case of this Labour Government putting prisoners' rights ahead of those of the taxpayer and the community. First, we have prisoners suing for hurt feelings, and now we have them getting the sickness benefit after being convicted of all sorts of crimes."

ENDS

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