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10 Unemployment Benefit Debts Total $1.2 Million

10 Unemployment Benefit Debts Total $1.2 Million

Parliamentary questions released by ACT Social Services Spokesman, Heather Roy, show that ten people caught defrauding the Unemployment Benefit owe debts totalling $1,256,102.28, with the largest single debt at $174,686.90.

"Government is soft on people abusing our welfare system, and too many people effectively get away with benefit fraud", Mrs Roy said.

"More than 17,000 people receiving Unemployment Benefits owed money to the taxpayer at the end of June 2006.

"Minister for Social Development and Employment, David Benson-Pope, recently stated that his Ministry 'is committed to recovering any and all debt it is owed'.

"Yet these debts are being repaid at between $20 and $47.50 a week. The largest debt could take 167 years to repay.

"Repayments are so pathetic that, in practice, the taxpayer will never be reimbursed.

"The Unemployment Benefit exists so people can receive the assistance, support and encouragement they need to return to work. Large-scale fraud like this not only rips off taxpayers, but reflects unfairly on people in real need as well.

"One of these cases, representing tens of thousands of dollars, was not even prosecuted.

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

"I am calling on David Benson-Pope to come clean with the public about the scale of benefit fraud, and to get tough on people ripping off taxpayers", Mrs Roy said.

ENDS

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