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Time to tighten up on inmates getting ACC

Katherine Rich MP National Party ACC Spokeswoman

07 March 2005

Time to tighten up on inmates getting ACC

National's ACC spokeswoman Katherine Rich has released figures showing more than 60 prison inmates wrongly received weekly ACC payments in the past eight months worth in total $35,000.

The figures come just weeks after the Ministry of Social Development admitted $1.8 million in benefits was wrongly paid to prison inmates last year.

"Up against the $1.8 million that the Ministry of Social Development must recoup from inmates, the $35,000 mistakenly handed out in weekly ACC payments looks like small change.

"Nevertheless, the Labour Government owes it to all law abiding taxpayers to make sure the money is repaid. And for the sake of the inmates who will have to pay back the money, Labour must also make sure its data matching processes are up to scratch," says Mrs Rich.

The figures, released by ACC Minister Ruth Dyson, show 65 payments worth a total of $35,000 were picked up by a weekly data match between ACC and Corrections.

In the case of benefit over-payments, Steve Maharey has asked the Privacy Commissioner to waive prisoner privacy rights because it forced time delays in cutting benefits.

"Ruth Dyson should do the same on behalf of the ACC," says Mrs Rich.

***************

Parliamentary Question: 01808 (2005)

From: qwawf Sent: Wednesday, 2 March 2005 04:39 p.m. To: Katherine Rich Subject: 01808 (2005) Published - ACC - Normal Reply

Question: Were any ACC payments made to prison inmates in the last 12 months, if so, how many inmates have received ACC payments what was the total value of the payments?

Portfolio: ACC Minister: Hon Ruth Dyson Date Lodged:17/02/2005

Answer Text: In the period 30 April 2004 to 30 January 2005, ACC made payments to 65 prison inmates. The total value of these payments was $35,850, which were generally to inmates who were receiving weekly compensation at the time they went into prison.

Under the Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation, and Compensation Act 2001 a person is not eligible to receive entitlements, other than medical treatment and physical rehabilitation, while in a penal institution. The above payments occurred because ACC had not been notified in advance of the claimants' impending imprisonment.

When assessing entitlements, ACC relies partly on information provided to it by the claimant, and other relevant sources such as employers for employee earnings, and Inland Revenue for self-employed income. ACC also has a data matching programme with the Department of Corrections.

The 65 payments in question were picked up by the first weekly ACC/Department of Corrections data match after they had commenced their prison sentence. Under the data matching programme, ACC receives a weekly report from the Department of Corrections providing information on all prison inmates admitted to New Zealand prisons in that week. The information includes the name of the prison the individual was admitted to, the inmate's name, date of birth, gender, and date of admission to prison.


As soon as this information is available, ACC matches it with current ACC claimants to ensure that any possible payments of weekly compensation to prison inmates are identified and resolved immediately. ACC will seek reimbursement of any overpayment of weekly compensation to a prison inmate when the inmate is released from prison. ACC is unable to provide the information you have requested for the period prior to 30 April 2004 due to an error in the computer programme that runs the data match. This response also answers WPQ 1811 (2005).

ENDS

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