INDEPENDENT NEWS

Are Beneficiaries Above The Law?

Published: Wed 11 Feb 2004 10:08 AM
Are Beneficiaries Above The Law?
New information on Labour's benefit debt write-offs highlights the Government's soft-on-welfare approach, and willingness to allow benefit fraudsters to break the law with impunity, ACT New Zealand Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman said today.
"Answers to my written Parliamentary Questions have revealed that, from 2000-2003, the Labour Government wrote off $32,950,634 in benefit debt," Dr Newman said.
"Labour has decided that this money is unrecoverable and given up trying to get it repaid. This reeks of double standard: minimal penalties for beneficiaries who commit fraud, compared with IRD's harsh and punitive approach toward taxpayers who have not paid enough -and who are virtually pursued to the grave.
"If benefit cheats were business fraudsters, they would surely be sent to jail. Instead large amounts of benefit debt are written off as a loss - and what is not written off is repaid at pittance of the total fraud.
"Benefit fraud in New Zealand is alive and kicking. Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey's soft-on-benefit-fraud attitude has ensured that - for some beneficiaries - crime does pay.
"What is needed is a zero tolerance approach to benefit fraud, and a penalty system that ensures that benefit crime - which undermines the integrity of the entire benefit system - is treated with the seriousness it deserves," Dr Newman said.

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