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Welfare Fraud Statistics Inaccurate

25 November 2003
Media Release
For immediate Use

Welfare Fraud Statistics Inaccurate

"The welfare fraud statistics (Published by the Dominion Post, 24 November 2003) are not only inaccurate but are known both by the Ministry and the Dominion Post to be inaccurate" Jessica Morrison, Benefit Rights Co-ordinator at the Wellington People's Centre said today. She went on to say; "The deliberate use of inflated fraud statistics amounts to little more than a smear campaign against beneficiaries.

"In 1999 the New Zealand Statistical Association was very critical of the Ministry's fraud statistics. Since then nothing has been done by the Ministry to ensure that these statistics are reliable. The previous Government Statistician, Mr Len Cook, also expressed similar concerns regarding the Benefit Control Unit's data matching statistics.

"The Benefit Control Unit of the Ministry has a very poor record when it comes to identifying benefit fraud. For example, with respect to allegations of fraud related to relationships-in-the-nature-of-marriage the Ministry ignored a clear ruling of the Court of Appeal for 5 years - essentially alleging fraud in a large number of cases where none really existed. This was only exposed in 2000 due to an independent legal investigation initiated by Ruth Dyson, who was at the time Associate Minister for Social Services. It is therefore particularly obnoxious for the Court's ruling to now be used to justify the Ministry's own failures.

"It's high time the Government, the Ministry, and the media stopped using inaccurate fraud statistics to score cheap political points at the expense of beneficiaries" Ms Morrison concluded.

Contact People: Jessica Morrison Wellington People's Centre ph 04 385-8596 Stephen Ruth Wellington People's Centre ph 04 385-8596


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