Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Now it's National's turn to tell porkies

I try to be even-handed and give credit where it is due. At least National are talking about criminals who continue to receive welfare (in the thousands) and women who add babies to their benefit (also in the thousands) but in their latest Welfare Fraud document they make this patently untrue statement.

"Labour did nothing to stop fraud and abuse of the welfare system, allowing it to largely go unchecked."

Look at the facts (as I pointed them out to Larry Williams last night):

In 2005/06 under Labour there were 937 prosecutions for fraud.

In 2010/11 under National there were 690.

The following details the number of investigations and reviews completed:

table IS.1: Trends in fraud and abuse investigation statistics1
Financial year2 Number of investigations and reviews completed Number of overpayments established Value of overpayments ($)
2004/2005 55,632 8,203 41,455,851
2005/2006 45,992 7,299 35,757,865
2006/2007 39,141 7,084 41,935,634
2007/2008 26,736 4,407 33,702,275
2008/2009 26,400 3,327 33,780,453
2009/2010 19,935 2,996 39,336,133

And why has it taken National 3 years to get around to doing something as straight forward as stopping the benefits of people on the run from the police?


S. Beast said...

You haven't said anything on this blog about the National party policy about drug use + beneficaries.

In yet ANOTHER attempt by the National Party to look like they actually have a "harsh" (but... not too harsh) welfare stance they announced that beneficaries who fail drug test for a potiential employer or who object to taking one (am I wrong, or isn't that everyone's right??) would have their benefit suspended.

This of course caters to the unsubstantiated sterotype of a beneficary (drug user) and plays upon the idea that drug use prevents work - really? In some industries it would, but how many jobs out there actually require drug testing?

Honestly Lindsay, how could you miss this one? The National party welfare dance leaves me feeling disillusioned.

At least they could put in some programs to encourage long term unemployed (ie the unemployable) into business. This plus the addition of flat tax/lower corporate tax would turn welfare around.

I don't believe that people automatically want to do nothing. Give them the feeling they are missing out on all the fun/money and they'll make the move off welfare on their own. The National party is really good at motivation by how about some more carrot?

S. Beast said...

And to answer your post...yes, why indeed?

Lindsay Mitchell said...

I did discuss this with Larry Williams in the same interview but didn't get around to blogging about it.

Most of the heavy substance abusers are on a sickness or invalid benefit. Around 6,000. If considerable pressure is put on drug-users on the dole (soon to be the Jobseeker Support) they will gravitate to a sickness or invalid benefit (soon to be Supported Living Paymant) benefit courtesy of WINZ and/or a co-operative doctor.

My personal opinion about drug-testing is that it is becoming too widespread and will be impossible to apply to some occupations as it would decimate their workforce. For example cleaners. I know of one large public organisation that has backed off drug-testing their cleaners.

National's stance is that if someone refuses to make themselves available for a job interview because they can't pass a drug test then the person will be sanctioned ie loss of dole. I don't think this is unreasonable IF the drug-testing itself is reasonable (another debate) and the person has the right skills for the job.

To my mind people who can support themselves should. If they want to use drugs that's their business but they have to do so in a way that doesn't prevent them from being self-supporting. It isn't my responsibility to furnish their personal choices.

And the best job creation scheme any government can run is low tax, reasonable regulation and generally as little encumberance on the private sector as possible. We agree on that.

unsolicitedious said...

Maybe National would have been better to say Labour did bugger all - the benefit fraud teams were useless. Take Wayne Patterson who took advantage of wide open loopholes for many years so as to steal $3.4 million in benefits

Then there is the likes of Hazel Webster who by 2007 had "accumulated about $97,200 over nine years and eight months by repeatedly lying on annual benefit review forms and in interviews with social services"...something which is going to take her nearly 100 years to pay back!

And Sandy Wickliffe Tamihana who "used an alias during part of the offending in which he illegally obtained benefits of $85,973.84 from Work and Income New Zealand between 2001 and 2008, and $25,725 from Housing New Zealand from 2004 to 2007.

I also note that in 2006 the 40 worst welfare cheats owed a total of $5.5 million...."the worst case of Unemployment Benefit fraud owes $174,686, the biggest Domestic Purposes Benefit fraudster owes $200,934. The highest debt for the Sickness Benefit was $201,376, and topping Invalid's Benefit fraud was a debt of over $221,312."

Seems to me that most of the offending has occurred when Labour was in government....

So perhaps Labour investigated more on paper because there was either more cheats or the public servants were just keen to make sure they looked good on paper so as to ensure continuity of their funding.....based on my experience I would say it would be a bit of both.

The rules have been tightened up considerable since I left MSD in 2006....especially around Case Manager's discretion.

It seems odd that any government is afraid of holding beneficiaries to account for money that is actually not theirs - they didn't earn. We did.

There will always be people who are determined to cheat the system, but for me Labour left the door wide open and National has made some good steps at reducing some of the discretion Case Managers have which means less fraud to investigate