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Labour turns blind eye to sickness benefit scam

Judith Collins MP
National Party Welfare Spokeswoman

28 May 2008

Labour turns blind eye to sickness benefit scam

Labour’s claim that Work and Income does not have a policy to move people on to sickness benefits to make unemployment numbers look better is becoming increasingly dubious, says National’s Welfare spokeswoman, Judith Collins.

Ms Collins says revelations by doctor Tom Van Herck that GPs are being bullied into giving able-bodied people medical clearance to stay on a sickness benefit come as no surprise.

“National has been highlighting this practice for years now, but Labour has consistently denied there is a problem.

“For years, doctors up and down the country have been complaining that the practice is becoming more common, and that in some places it is rife.

“GPs say the practice is being encouraged by Work and Income staff who can’t be bothered trying to find jobs for beneficiaries who are not interested in working.

“They have been confronted by people who say they are too angry to work, too lazy to work and, in many cases, that they simply can’t be bothered to find a job.

“It got so bad for one GP that he had to put a sign up at his medical practice saying he wouldn’t provide sickness benefit medical assessments for casual patients. But Labour continues to rubbish the claims.

“It is clear that Work and Income is washing its hands of these people, preferring to pile the pressure on stressed and over-worked GPs.

“It is no coincidence that the number of people on sickness and invalid benefits has shot up by 50% since Labour took office. At the end of March this year, there were 129,474 people on either the sickness or the invalid benefit, up from 128,500 in June last year.

“Dr Van Herck’s claims back up National’s: that far from encouraging people into jobs, Work and Income is pushing people on to sickness benefits in order to make unemployment figures look better. And the Labour government is totally complicit.”

ENDS

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