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Work & Income insider confirms sickness rort

Judith Collins MP
National Party Welfare Spokeswoman

30 May 2008

Work & Income insider confirms sickness rort

National Party Welfare spokeswoman Judith Collins says for the first time a person claiming to be a Work and Income insider has confirmed widespread abuse of sickness benefits by those seeking to avoid work.

“The fact that Work and Income staff know this is happening is concerning. Work is the pathway out of poverty and these beneficiaries are being let down by state agencies.”

Mrs Collins is referring to a letter in today’s Dominion Post newspaper** authored by a Pete Paterson of Havelock North, who says formerly he worked at the Hawke’s Bay branch of Work & Income.

The letter claims, ‘During the pruning and picking seasons, WINZ case managers offer those on the unemployment benefit pruning jobs, but many choose to switch to the sickness benefit for the duration of the season instead … Beneficiaries find it easy to monster a doctor, obtain a medical certificate and get the sickness benefit’.

The claims follow complaints by Wellington doctor Tom Van Herck who said earlier in the week that doctors were being bullied by some beneficiaries.

Mrs Collins says Labour refuses to accept there is any problem.

“I have asked countless questions over the past few years about the growth in the sickness benefit numbers and the length of time some have been on it.

“Labour has always dismissed these concerns, but in doing so, they are sentencing a large group of New Zealanders to relative poverty.

“That is no good for them, it’s no good for their kids, and its no good for our country.”

ENDS

**Attached: Letter to Editor, DomPost 30 May 2008 – 1 page.


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