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Ministry loses track of taxpayer money

Judith Collins
National Party Welfare Spokeswoman

22 April 2006

Ministry loses track of taxpayer money

National Party Welfare spokeswoman Judith Collins says it is unacceptable that the Social Development Ministry does not know how much money it is paying to beneficiaries who claim for assistance with car loans and running costs.

She is commenting on an admission by the ministry that the amount claimed by working-age beneficiaries for car loans does not equate to the amount paid, and that it has no idea how much it has actually paid.

Last year, 10,018 beneficiaries claimed an average of $74 a week for help with car repayments, compared with only 1,528 claims in 2000, when Labour first came to power. The number getting extra help for car running costs last year was 499, compared with 106 in 2000.

"It is unacceptable that the ministry knows what individuals are claiming but not what they are being paid," says Ms Collins.

"It suggests an unwillingness to tell the truth, and to be accountable for taxpayers' money.

"It is also outrageous that special benefit recipients could receive more than $3,800 a year to cover personal loans."

Ms Collins says that even though car assistance was capped at $52.97 a week from April 1 this year, it remains inappropriate for unemployed working-age beneficiaries to get taxpayer help to pay off a car.

"It is a significant amount of money to be spending on what should be a luxury item for people who are not having to go to work to earn a living."

The increase in the number of beneficiaries receiving car assistance mirrors the number of people receiving special benefits. In 2000 there were 10,718 people on special benefits, and in June last year there were 53,255.


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