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Fraud initiatives keep people out of debt traps


Hon Jo Goodhew
Associate Minister for Social Development
2 September 2015

Fraud initiatives keep people out of debt traps

A continued focus by staff to identify overpayments to beneficiaries is reducing the number of people ending up with large debts, says Associate Social Development Minister Jo Goodhew.

The quarter to June 2015 saw a record $2.21 million in overpayments recovered from beneficiaries, a one million dollar increase from the previous quarter.

“This is proof the information sharing between departments is increasing the likelihood of early debt recovery,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“We don’t want families stuck in a debt trap for receiving payments they aren’t entitled to receive. That’s why our staff are working hard to prevent welfare fraud from occurring, and preventing large debts from accumulating.

A total of $9.11 million in overpayments has been recovered since the welfare fraud initiatives began in March 2013.

“As well as helping people whose changing circumstances unintentionally lead to an overpayment, we continue to catch people who are intentionally trying to defraud the system.

“Around 97 percent of our welfare fraud prosecutions are successful. Over the last year 927 people have been successfully prosecuted and we are now working with them to recover $32 million in taxpayer money.”

“In addition, prior to the welfare fraud initiatives approximately 26 percent of clients re-offended. To date, only 0.1 per cent of clients who are or have been closely monitored have recommitted welfare fraud,” says Mrs Goodhew.

The welfare fraud initiatives have led to over 10,200 unlawfully obtained benefits being cancelled, saving an estimated $174.5 million of taxpayer money.


Further details:

The following table provides an example of fraud investigations and resulting overpayments by region for the month of July 2015.

Regionpeople
investigated
overpayments establishedtotal
overpayment value
average
overpayment value
Auckland14859$1,788,582$30,315
Bay of Plenty6829$711,523$24,535
Canterbury3621$365,414$17,401
Central2615$198,432$13,229
East Coast6333$267,288$8,100
Nelson2715$504,727$33,648
Northland1310$143,605$14,361
Southern2816$219,198$13,700
Taranaki3410$139,688$13,969
Waikato3219$204,112$10,743
Wellington1912$156,690$13,057
Total494239$4,699,260$19,662


ends

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