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Run from the law and your benefit will be stopped

Paula Bennett, Anne Tolley

3 July, 2013

Run from the law and your benefit will be stopped

People who fail to clear outstanding arrest warrants could see their benefits stopped as the next stage of welfare reforms comes into effect this month.

“Taxpayers overwhelmingly say they don’t want to fund people to actively avoid the Police and this Government agrees,” says Social Development Minister Paula Bennett.

From July 15, beneficiaries with outstanding warrants will have their benefits stopped if they fail to come forward and clear their warrant within 38 days.

Those with children will have their benefit reduced by no more than half.

“There are about 15,000 people with outstanding warrants at any one time and 8,000 of those are receiving a benefit.”

People with a warrant outstanding for 28 or days or longer will be given ten further working days to clear it. Failing that, Work and Income will be notified and the benefit reduced by 50 per cent or stopped, until the person complies.

But if Police believe a person evading arrest poses a serious danger, their benefit can be stopped immediately at the request of the Police Commissioner.

This will relate to people with outstanding warrants for serious crimes such as violence and assault charges, firearms charges, and people with multiple driving convictions.

“These changes are common sense and will encourage people to front up to the justice system sooner and straighten things out,” says Mrs Bennett.

The collaborative approach between Police and Work and Income will also free up significant Police time and resources.

Police Minister Anne Tolley welcomed the new process and says it highlights the benefits of Government agencies working more closely together to improve public safety.

“People with outstanding arrest warrants who pose a risk to the public will be tracked down by Police. You will be found and brought before the courts.”

This measure forms part of wider changes being introduced by the Government aimed at reforming and modernising New Zealand’s welfare system with an active, work-based approach.


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