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

 


Guilty of being a beneficiary

Guilty of being a beneficiary


Kay Brereton Co-convenor of the National Beneficiary Advocacy Federation of NZ is concerned that “ government plans for changing the rules for investigating benefit fraud constitutes an abuse of human rights, which removes the privacy rights of a class of citizens.”

“While we support the idea of making both parties to a fraud liable for any debt relating to fraud where a relationship in the nature of marriage is proven, we are very concerned at the removal of the requirement for investigators to first seek information from the parties under investigation.”

“All citizens of New Zealand believe they have the right to be treated as innocent until they are proven to be guilty.”

“This will no longer be the case for superannuitants, students, and anyone else who has received assistance from Work and Income, and finds themselves the subject of an investigation by the Benefit Fraud Investigation Unit.”

“In 1997 Parliament amended the Social Security Act to require the Ministry of Social Development to develop a code of conduct to guide the use of the information collection powers they exercise under section 11. This amendment to the Act clearly stated a requirement for information to first be sought from the beneficiary unless there exists 'reasonable cause' to believe that to do so would be 'likely to prejudice the maintenance of the law'. This amendment was enacted in part as a result of recommendations made by the Privacy Commisioner in 1994 as a result of complaints about the variable use of Section 11 by Ministry staff.”

“I understand the government has ammended the code of conduct to allow the National Fraud Investigation Unit to treat anyone under investigation by them as “likely to prejudice the maintenance of the law”, everyone under investigation will be treated as guilty and likely to delay or impede an investigation.

“At present the Social Security Act requires the Ministry to first seek information from the beneficiary before seeking it from a third party, it is the effect of this policy change to ignore the legislation.

“This intended change to policy means that the Fraud Investigator will first go to; current and former landlords, employers, children’s schools and day-care, banks and others, advising them that the person is a beneficiary under investigation for fraud.”

“In many cases an explanation from the accused party will resolve the investigation meaning little or no further resources are needed.

“Of the 16,266 allegations in 2010 only 2,424 resulted in a debt (14.9%) and of these only 690 were found to have warranted prosecution (4.24%).

“Often the allegation leading to an investigation will have a malicious source, resource material from Women's Refuge refers to “threatening to dob you in to welfare” as a common threat made in domestically abusive relationships.

“I am not satisfied that this change will not breach the privacy of individuals by disclosing to third parties that the individual is a beneficiary accused of fraud, this may have serious implications in relation to employment, housing and treatment by members of their community.”

“This is a stark contrast to the treatment of those under investigation for tax fraud; a fraud which costs the country far more than benefit fraud. Tax fraudsters are encouraged to make voluntary disclosure as early as possible to reduce the penalities imposed by the state.”

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell:
On Andrew Little’s Debut, Mockingjay, And Drunk Texting

John Key’s credibility has taken a hammering this week – at least among the 50% of the electorate who have always had doubts about him on that score.

The other substantial story of the week has been about Andrew Little’s debut as Labour leader, which has received top marks, especially among the 25% of the electorate still voting Labour. According to some reports, the Labour caucus has been ‘in seventh heaven’ about Little’s success this week in taking it to the government in the House. More>>

ALSO:

 
 

Parliament Today:

Gordon Campbell: On Government Arrogance

Right now, National is ramming anti-terrorism measures through Parliament. This legislation will grant the SIS the power to carry out 48 hour bouts of surveillance on anyone without a warrant, and will bestow on government the power to unilaterally revoke anyone’s passports and thus deny them the freedom to travel. More>>

ALSO:

Glenn Inquiry: Report Offers Solutions To Family Violence

The People’s Blueprint unveiled today by Sir Owen Glenn’s independent inquiry into child abuse and domestic violence outlines a new, more cohesive and effective system for reducing New Zealand’s alarmingly high family violence rates. More>>

ALSO:

Environment Commissioner: Changing Climate And Rising Seas - Understanding The Science

A rising sea will be with us for a long time to come – one way or another we will have to adapt. But how high and how fast the water rises will be influenced by the speed at which the world – including New Zealand – reduces greenhouse gas emissions over the coming decades. More>>

ALSO:

Key Texts With Whale Oil Released: PM Can’t Be Trusted Over Dirty Politics Defence - Greens

John Key’s answers to questions about dirty politics can’t be trusted, after he was forced to admit that he had misled journalists and Parliament about contact with attack blogger Cameron Slater, said the Green Party today.. More>>

ALSO:

Temporary Release Crackdown Continues: Corrections Review Of Phillip Smith Case

“The review by Corrections’ Chief Custodial Officer reveals that the plan for Smith’s series of temporary releases was overly ambitious and misinformed. He’s a highly manipulative and deceptive person who although technically eligible, should not have been considered for temporary release." More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news