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Legal Entitlements To Hi-Needs Beneficiaries

Government providing legal entitlements to hi-needs beneficiaries

The Government was providing the highest claimants of welfare, supplementary payments and family support benefits with no more than they were legally entitled to, Associate Social Development and Employment Minister Rick Barker said today.

Mr Barker recently released figures detailing the amounts paid by Work and Income to the five highest claimants each of the unemployment, domestic purposes, domestic purposes with a Section 70A deduction* and sole parent benefit in response to written Parliamentary question requests.

However, despite the frequency and amounts paid to each client, Mr Barker stressed that the figures represented what the State was legally obliged to pay.

"These people, whose identities of course will remain confidential, are quite simply living in exceptional circumstances.

"I'm advised that many of these cases involve sole parents with several children with pressing and essential medical costs that have to be met by way of disability and or special benefit.

"Other clients also have emergency needs or exceptional circumstances such as accommodation costs which the State is obliged to meet on a case by case basis.

"These are families, people whose circumstances were not of their making or choosing. The State has a legal and moral obligation to help and support these people through their time of need and that's exactly what we're doing."

The higher supplementary benefits paid to each client were also reviewed on a regular basis.

While it was easy to draw comparisons between what the beneficiaries received and others earned, Mr Barker said it was it was wrong for opposition parties to assert that taxpayers were being robbed.

"Are we to take Act's attack on beneficiaries as a sign that they would cut the funding for the childrens' health needs in these cases or let these families live on the street because they couldn't afford to meet their accommodation costs, or both?

"If we weren't helping these families, you can bet this Government would be in the gun from all sides of the political spectrum, the media and the public on how we were neglecting hi-needs beneficiaries, many with children who have considerable health and welfare needs.

"ACT would presumably have these families live on the street, destitute, whereas this Government believes that those who are in dire straits should be given assistance and support until they can get back on their own two feet."

* Section 70A of the Social Security Act applies where a sole parent on benefit either refuses to name the liable parent for Child Support purposes, or names the liable parent but refuses to apply for Child Support. A weekly penalty of $22.00 from Domestic Purposes Benefit payments applies to any client who comes under Section 70A of the Act.


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