Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Govt Still Recovering Millions Of Wrongly Est Debt

Government Still Recovering Millions Of Wrongly Established Debt

A report released today by the Wellington People’s Centre says the government is recovering an estimated $60 million of debt against beneficiaries because the Ministry of Social Development has wrongly determined thousands of individuals to be living in relationships in the nature of marriage. This is despite government assurances that the problem has been fixed.

A Ministry of Social Development review of benefit overpayments established between 1 November 1996 and 31 December 2000 has already resulted in the reversal of over $35 million of wrongly established debt because of an identified systemic failure to apply the correct legal test for determining when a person is living in a relationship in the nature of marriage.

However, Wellington People’s Centre researcher Tina McIvor said that while a huge 63% of the overpayments reconsidered were disestablished, only about one third of the 15,600 cases decided within the timeframe were revisited. The government placed an unnecessary onus on the people affected to make a special application to get their cases reviewed.

“This leaves a very large question mark over the accuracy of the remaining 10,000 cases. There is absolutely no reason why the Minister could not have directed all cases to be reconsidered. The Ministry knows it was responsible for the mistakes, and has all of the information at its fingertips.”

“Instead, the onus was placed on individuals within a vulnerable population to apply for reviews, despite the government knowing that it was responsible for all of the errors in the first place”, Ms McIvor said.

Reasons for the mistakes included a culture within the Ministry’s investigation unit based on financial targets and incentives aimed at recovering from beneficiaries as much money as possible. Within the review timeframe there was a “Million Dollar Club” for Ministry investigators who established over $1 million against beneficiaries in a year.

“There is evidence that the correct test continues to be ignored, which would make the $60 million figure conservative.”

“Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that the problem has been fixed. Advocacy groups still report cases where investigators have little or no idea about how to apply the correct legal test.”

Ms McIvor says that the terms of reference for the Ministry’s review ought to have been much wider, including a greater timeframe, and reconsideration of some of the overpayments upon the Ministry’s own volition.

“The Ministry’s review didn’t go anywhere near far enough to rectify errors that were made on such a large scale. It was their mistake. The government should be required to ensure that the poorest in our community are not forced to bear the brunt of errors caused by a failure to apply the law correctly.”

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Peters/Ardern Triumph

There are a lot of good reasons to feel joyful about this outcome. It is what so many young voters – the best hope for the country’s future – wanted.

Far more important than the implications for the Economy Gods ( is the dollar up or down? ) last night’s outcome will also mean many, many vulnerable New Zealanders will have a better life over the next three years at least.

Yet the desire for change was in the majority, across the country..>>>More


Labour on its agreement |Peters: Post-Election Announcement Speech | Greenpeace “cautiously hopeful” about new Government | ACT - Madman on the loose | E tū ecstatic | Chamber welcomes the outcome | Greens on their joining Govt | EDS welcomes new govt | Immigrant groups worry | Feds ready to engage new coalition government | Labour Ministers of the Crown announced


Climate: Increasing Greenhouse Emissions Hit NZ

New Zealand is seeing impacts of excess greenhouse gas emissions in our climate and oceans, according to the latest national report from the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ about the state of the atmosphere and climate…More>>


Wellington.Scoop: Arrests At Blockade Of "Weapons Expo"

“We encourage people in Wellington to get down to the Westpac Stadium now for a day of awesome peace action. There will be plenty of food, music and activities to keep us sustained through the day.” More>>


Rorschach Restructuring: PSA Taking Inland Revenue To Court Over Psychometrics

The Public Service Association will be seeing Inland Revenue in Employment Court over its intention to psychometrically test employees reapplying for their roles at the department as part of its controversial Business Transformation restructuring plan. More>>


Nuclear Disarmament: Nobel Peace Prize 2017 Awarded To ICAN

Congratulations from iCAN Aotearoa New Zealand to international iCAN, the other iCAN national campaigns and partner organisations, and the countless organisations and individuals who have worked so hard for a nuclear weapons-free world since 1945. More>>


Expenses: Waikato DHB CEO Resigns

An independent inquiry has identified that Dr Murray had spent more than the agreed $25K allocated for relocation costs, and other unauthorized expenses involving potential financial breaches of the chief executive’s obligations. More>>


Wellington.Scoop: Sad About The Trolley Buses?

The Regional Council’s MetLink is today spending money to tell us that it really loves Wellington’s trolley buses, even though they’re all being taken off our roads by the end of this month. More>>


Post-Election: Preliminary Coalition Talks Begin

New Zealand First will hold post-election preliminary discussions in Wellington with the National Party tomorrow morning and the Labour Party tomorrow afternoon. More>>




Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election