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New measures begin to stop repeat welfare fraudsters

Hon Chester Borrows

Associate Minister for Social Development
 
13 October 2013       

Media Statement       

New measures begin to stop repeat welfare fraudsters
 
Associate Social Development Minister Chester Borrows has welcomed the start of new measures to prevent beneficiaries who have previously ripped off Work and Income from cheating the system again.
 
“We know the overwhelming majority of beneficiaries are honest and follow the rules,” says Mr Borrows.

“Yet those very few who choose to defraud the system place a very real cost on a system which should be there to support our most vulnerable citizens.”
 
The new ‘low trust client’ rules, which come into effect on Monday 14 October, will apply to those who have previously been convicted of welfare fraud, or had overpayments established following a fraud investigation.  It is expected to apply to around 1500 people per year.
 
“These people have proven, through their own actions, that they are willing to be dishonest with the welfare system and take money they are not entitled to,” says Mr Borrows.
 
“With these new measures we will have sensible steps to prevent them repeating this behaviour, such as requiring them to deal face-to-face with a single case manager.
 
The changes are part of a package of initiatives announced earlier this year to better prevent, detect and punish welfare fraud.  These include:
changing the law to hold partners of beneficiaries complicit in ‘relationship’ fraud offending to account;
new joint agency fraud investigations which have already seen charges laid against 28 people as part of a $375,000 scam in Auckland; and
enhanced information sharing between the Ministry of Social Development and Inland Revenue, with over 3000 illegitimate benefits cancelled since it began earlier this year.
 
More information on the Government’s welfare fraud initiatives can be found on www.beehive.govt.nz

ENDS

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