No joy in falling beneficiary numbers, fraud stats


Media release Monday 15 April 2013

No joy in falling beneficiary numbers, fraud stats

We take no joy at all in seeing the number of beneficiaries drop under Paula Bennett’s regime, says Auckland Action Against Poverty spokesperson Sarah Thompson.

 “While we hope that at least some of these statistics represent happy outcomes, our experience carrying out frontline beneficiary advocacy tells us that in fact many of those pushed out of the benefit system are not going into decent jobs at all, but into an appalling limbo without either paid work or income support.

 “We also wonder how many other people didn’t get jobs – or have fewer paid hours – because a struggling single mum or person on a sickness benefit has been forced by Work and Income to take the job or the extra hours someone else needs for survival.

 “National’s welfare changes are all about recycling the desperate, the poor and the unemployed, not about decent jobs or quality of life for beneficiaries and their children.

 “And in regards to the Ministry of Social Development’s other announcement on numbers ‘caught’ receiving welfare overpayments – from the figures given, there is no telling how many of these 525 cases would have been picked up anyway.

 “There has always been an issue around people continuing to receive benefits when they’ve started work. The cross over is sometimes only one or two weeks and is as frequently Work and Income’s fault as it is that of the person concerned.

 “Chester Burrows is deliberately manipulating and trumpeting these statistics to deepen the opprobrium National is so keen to attach to beneficiaries.

 “With his Social Security (Fraud Measures and Debt Recovery) Amendment Bill due for its first reading in Parliament sometime soon, Mr Borrows is obviously keen to set the scene for the third round of Government beneficiary-bashing.

 “Auckland Action Against Poverty believes that ultimately the only real solution to this horrendous blame and shame culture is the introduction of a universal basic income which will do away with this whole state apparatus of control, which is more reminiscent of a totalitarian state than of a free and compassionate society.”