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Centuries To Repay $2.8 Million Fraud

Centuries To Repay $2.8 Million Fraud In Sickness and Invalid's Benefit

Heather Roy Thursday, 31 August 2006 Press Releases - Social Welfare

More than $2.8 million in debt owed as a result of defrauding the Sickness and Invalid's benefits will take centuries to repay, according to answers to Parliamentary Questions released by ACT Social Services Spokesman, Heather Roy.

"More than 50,000 recipients of Sickness and Invalid's benefits owed debts at the end of June 2006", Mrs Roy said.

"The ten largest debts from the Invalid's Benefit come to $1,704,814.29, and the ten largest Sickness Benefit debts are $1,161,423.50.

"The largest single Invalid's Benefit debt is $221,312.33, and the largest Sickness Benefit debt is $201,370.56.

"Invalid's Benefit debts are being repaid at between $15 and $25 a week – meaning the largest debt will take at least 170 years to be paid off.

"The largest Sickness Benefit debt will take at least 121 years to repay, at between $10 and $32 a week.

"In practice, taxpayers will never recover most of this money, despite hollow comments from the Minister for Social Development and Employment, David Benson-Pope, that his Ministry 'is committed to recovering any and all debt it is owed'.

"Over half a million dollars worth of this debt was never even prosecuted, including more than a third of the Sickness Benefit debt.

"This is not about bashing beneficiaries, it's about dealing with fraud.

"Kiwis don't mind helping people in need, but object to Government paying millions of dollars in benefits without taking the necessary steps to prevent fraud.

"The Minister for Social Development and Employment, David Benson-Pope, needs to come clean to the public about the scale of benefit fraud, and get tough on the people ripping off taxpayers", Mrs Roy said.

ENDS

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