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 The Challenges Of Keytruda Funding

All year, the availability of the new generation of anti-cancer drugs in New Zealand has been driven by political decisions, as much as by medical ones... More>>

ALSO:

Land Swap: Setback For Ruataniwha Scheme As Forest & Bird Wins Appeal

The Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society has won an appeal against a proposed land swap by the Department of Conservation which would have allowed 22 hectares of Ruahine Forest Park be flooded as part of the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme that will provide irrigation for farmers. More>>

ALSO:

Up: Official July Crime Stats Released

Official crime statistics for July 2016 show that Police recorded 11,171 more victimisations than the same period last year, which equates to a 2.3 per cent increase. More than three quarters of this increase can be attributed to burglaries. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Judith Collins Charm Offensive

Suddenly, Judith Collins is everyone’s new best friend. It isn’t an election year, but the Corrections/Police Minister is treating 2016 as an opportunity for a political makeover… Feel that the Police don’t attend burglaries often enough, or assiduously enough? She’s the peoples’ champ on that one. More>>

PM's Press Conference: Crime And Diplomacy

The Prime Minister's press conference today was dominated by foreign affairs and an open letter from the PM to the Chinese community on crime. More>>

ACC: Govt Caught In Unethical Cluster Bomb Investments

The ACC Fund admitted that it had $1.4 million invested in cluster munitions and nuclear weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin. Before responding to the Green Party’s request for information,however, ACC sold its Lockheed investment and updated its ethical investment policy. More>>

ALSO:

Local Governments To Decide: Easter Trading Bill Passes

The union representing working people in the retail industry is condemning the Government for whipping its MPs to pass the controversial Shop Trading Hours Amendment Bill. More>>

ALSO:

Departure Speech: Governor-General’s State Farewell Luncheon

"...Unfortunately I was unable to get to the Antarctic, the Chatham Islands and the Kermadecs. A dicky heart thwarted our travel to the Antarctic; and even though I volunteered to parachute into the Kermadecs to join the Young Blake expedition, time, commitments and officials frustrated my plans to visit the Kermadecs and Chathams." More>>

ALSO:

New Research: Most Homeless People Working Or Studying

“The cost of housing has been rising without corresponding increases in income, whilst the number of state houses per capita has been in decline. Many low-income people are missing out on housing, whether we recognise them as ‘homeless’ or not. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news