Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
License needed for work use Register

Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


National to focus on benefit fraud, crime and drug use

Hon Paula Bennett
National Party
Spokeswoman for Social Development

15 November 2011 Media Statement

National to focus on benefit fraud, crime and drug use

National is today announcing measures to get tough on those who abuse and exploit the welfare system.

“We’ll sanction beneficiaries if their recreational drug use gets in the way of a job, we’ll cancel benefits for criminals on the run from Police and a new team of fraud specialists will focus on catching benefit cheats,” says Social Development spokeswoman Paula Bennett.

These changes build on recent announcements to comprehensively reform welfare by resetting expectations through a more active, investment-based system.
The additional welfare reforms announced today include three main areas:

Fraud measures:
• Extended data-matching with other government agencies
• Law changes to improve prosecution of those who defraud
• A team of eight specialist fraud investigators

This year Work and Income increased data matching with other agencies and found six to 12 per cent of people were receiving benefits they weren’t entitled to.

Over 2010/11 there was 690 benefit fraud prosecutions, involving more than $22 million, with a further $183 million counted as overpayment, because it fell below the prosecution threshold.

“So, in the past year alone, new debt of $200 million was established due to benefit fraud and that’s unacceptable,” says Ms Bennett.

“This policy will save an estimated $200 million over four years.”

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

Beneficiaries on the run from Police
• Benefit suspended for those who fail to appear on an arrest warrant and cannot be located by Police
• Even if warrant cleared and benefit resumes, no back-pay.

“Most New Zealanders would be appalled to know that someone can continue getting a benefit while on the run from Police. National has reviewed this and will not pay for criminals to evade the justice system.”

Police will advise Work and Income when an individual fails to appear on a warrant and evades subsequent attempts by Police to contact them. The beneficiary will then receive written warning their benefit will be suspended in seven days’ time.

Beneficiaries with children in this situation will retain 50 per cent of their benefit until they supply evidence to show the warrant has been cleared.

Recreational Drug Use:
• Jobseeker sanctioned if recreational drug use affects work prospects
• Benefit cancelled if Jobseeker fails workplace drug test or refuses to apply for a job because they would have failed a drug test.

“Employers are desperate to hire forestry workers in Northland, but workers must be drug free and that's not an unreasonable expectation,” says Ms Bennett.

“Currently Work and Income doesn’t put people forward for jobs if they know the individual will fail a drug test, so we’re changing the rules so Jobseekers are responsible for being available for work.”

"National believes in a welfare system that is fair for those who use it, but also fair on taxpayers who fund it," says Ms Bennett.

Visit the policy at:

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Government’s Smokefree Laws Debacle

The most charitable explanation for National’s behaviour over the smokefree legislation is that they have dutifully fulfilled the wishes of the Big Tobacco lobby and then cast around for excuses that might sell this health policy U-turn to the public. The less charitable view is that the government was being deliberately misleading. Are we to think Prime Minister Christopher Luxon is a fool or a liar? It seems rather early on in his term of office to be facing that unpleasant choice... More

Public Housing Futures: Christmas Comes Early For Landlords

New CTU analysis of the National & ACT coalition agreement has shown the cost of returning interest deductibility to landlords is an extra $900M on top of National’s original proposal. This is because it is going to be implemented earlier and faster, including retrospective rebates from April 2023. More

Green Party: Petition To Save Oil & Gas Ban

“The new Government’s plan to expand oil and gas exploration is as dangerous as it is unscientific. Whatever you think about the new government, there is simply no mandate to trash the climate. We need to come together to stop them,” says James Shaw. More

PSA: MFAT Must Reverse Decision To Remove Te Reo

MFAT's decision to remove te reo from correspondence before new Ministers are sworn in risks undermining the important progress the public sector has made in honouring te Tiriti. "We are very disappointed in what is a backward decision - it simply seems to be a Ministry bowing to the racist rhetoric we heard on the election campaign trail," says Marcia Puru. More




InfoPages News Channels


Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.