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Debt Levels Higher on DPB

Media Release
Debt Levels Higher on DPB
March 14, 2006

Figures released under the Official Information Act show 62,500 DPB beneficiaries owe money to WINZ, according to Lindsay Mitchell, petitioner for a Parliamentary review of the DPB.

"Across all working age beneficiaries the percentage of people in debt to WINZ is fifty one. For DPB recipients however, the percentage rises to fifty nine. The mean amount owed is $502."

"In the 2004/05 year, thirty seven percent of the newly established debt was due to grants. The balance was made up of debt established by Benefit Control and Data Matching (23 percent) and overpayments established by WINZ (40 percent)."

"Two thirds of those owing money were female. Forty eight percent were Maori or Pacific Island. Only seventeen percent had some other kind of income aside from a benefit and over 6,000 people were not making any repayments."

"The really worrying aspect of this situation is this debt is only part of the picture. Like non-beneficiaries, many of these people will have money owing on creditcards, on hire purchase agreements, to loan sharks, etc."

"Not only is being on a benefit a lifestyle for many, so is being in debt. Why, when we have record low unemployment and businesses unable to hire and/or retain staff, are so many families apparently living hand- to-mouth ?"

(These figures were current at November 30, 2005.)

ENDS

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