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Welfare fraud bill passes second reading

Welfare fraud bill passes second reading

A bill to help hold partners complicit in welfare fraud to account has passed its second reading in Parliament today.

“While the overwhelming majority of people receiving welfare support are honest and follow the rules, a tiny minority think they can get away with ripping off the taxpayer, and we’re going to hold them to account,” says Associate Social Development Minister Chester Borrows.

The Bill will change the law to make partners of beneficiaries who fraudulently receive a single or sole parent rate of benefit criminally liable for their part in the fraud.

“The reality of this type of fraud is that by definition it can only occur when there is a second person in the picture,” says Mr Borrows.

“However, at the moment one partner – usually the woman – takes all the blame and all the debt, while the other gets away with it. That’s not fair, so we’re changing the law to fix that.”

The Bill is part of a package of reforms designed to prevent, detect and punish welfare fraud. It includes enhanced information sharing with Inland Revenue, which has so far resulted in the cancellation of more than 5300 illegitimate benefits worth over $56 million per year, and stringent new checks for people previously caught taking money from Work and Income.

“We owe it to the taxpayer to be good stewards of the money they provide. These reforms will help us ensure that the welfare system is there to help the needy, not be taken advantage of by the greedy,” says Mr Borrows.

Ends

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