Welfare faud crackdown 'double standard'
Wed, 20 Feb 2013 6:04p.m.
By Rachel Tiffen
Spouses and partners of benefit fraudsters will be criminally liable under a Government clampdown on welfare crime.
The new relationship-offending law could land complicit partners in jail, but Opposition parties say it shows the double standard between tax evasion and benefit fraud.
It's a crackdown on partners of crime – spouse or de facto, turn a blind eye to bludging and you'll be liable.
“We're treating benefit fraud as the crime it is,” says Associate Social Development Minister Chester Borrows. “And so if you commit any other fraud you'll be treated in exactly the same way.”
But will you? There's no law specifically targeting partners of white-collar fraudsters. A study found welfare fraud cost the country $39 million last year – and tax evaders more than $1 billion.
“I have to say I'm pretty tired of the pure politics that's being played in this area and the double standard that we see between the way welfare fraud and tax fraud is,” says Labour spokesperson Jacinda Ardern.
And if you're being investigated for your part in your partner's benefit fraud, you may not know it until you're charged. The new welfare legislation removes the need to notify suspects. The Government says it's above board, rubber-stamped by the Privacy Commissioner.
“It harks back to the old National Party's dob-in-a-bludger days, when they were asking people to sneak around and check in people's windows and then report them,” says Green co-leader Metiria Turei.
And it may cause problems for victims of domestic violence.
“If I were in a relationship or I’d left a relationship with someone who was violent, there'd now be fear for them that they'd get prosecuted,” says Sarah Thompson of Action Against Poverty.
The relationship offending law is part of a three-pronged package. There'll also be more checks on beneficiaries with a history of cheating and better information sharing between the likes of ACC, IRD, Housing New Zealand, the Police and the Ministry of Social Development.
And while Mr Borrows told reporters the Maori Party was on-side, party co-leader Tariana Turia says she won’t be supporting it.
Even so, National should still get the votes to push the package through Parliament.
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15/04/2013 9:58:53 a.m.
john key and his government should be held accountable for all his illegal rip offs why is he allowed to spend $10,000 just to appear on the david letterman show, all the money he has spent to partnership with warring countries like china, selling off all our state owned enterprises! fat lunches that cost thousands when we have children starving on the streets or living in substandard housing, kim.com, forced to put our children into daycares, before/after school care just to make money to cover the basics, even if you do work with 2 incomes its still not enough to survice on the essentials in this country, this is why people go down that road, you work work work your ass off pay high childcare fees that take most you wages, pay your rent/bills and there is nothing left for food!! goes to show if you have money it doesnt affect you. the saying "keep the rich richer and the poor poorer" really is true. the government is using beneficaries because they dont want us to see or focus on their criminal fraudulent behaviour, they just create or remove legislation to make what they do legal. people need to wake up and stop this government before its too late. making deals with china is the last straw. we need to be aware start building war bunkers for our families.
24/02/2013 12:06:54 p.m.
I won't condone the behaviour of those couples claiming the DPB but they are a lesser problem and are not taking so much money as to be blamed for being greedy.There is such a massive division between a few hundred dollars of misappropriated funds off the welfare system and funnelling thousands if not millions of dollars into an untouchable fund from white collar crime.If the cost to the tax payer was the issue then the target is obvious even to a pre-schooler.Clearly the government has made the choice to ignore these people as they are guilty of it themselves - this is clear as day.And as a partner/wife of a criminal you are as responsible as you do not take any action against their crime and should take a share of the burden as you would indeed take a share of the rewards.
21/02/2013 8:30:25 p.m.
Ignoring the complete hypocrisy of this political stunt and of course knowing that both activities are fraudulent. From a purely financial point of view, it's like making a big commotion about chasing a kid out of your backyard who's trying to steal some fruit from one of your trees. While the burglars have let themselves in through the backdoor and are cleaning out your house.... Yes the kid is stealing as well but have you solved the biggest problem...ahhhh? This is the cynical way the Key-stoned Kops operate unfortunately....Everytime they need a diversion they hammer the beneficiaries in the media and suddenly are concerned about the kiwi tax base being ripped off...who do they think they're kidding...(cue the faux outrage from the right). Apply the welfare policing approach to the tax evaders as well and the govt would come off as truly concerned about the health of their own coffers...Surely the spouses of the tax evaders have benefited from their illegal activities as well?
21/02/2013 5:22:35 p.m.
Beneficiaries with children are really struggling to survive and now this monstrous piece of legislation.
21/02/2013 12:42:08 p.m.
Until I stop seeing the spouses and families of white-collar fraudsters enjoying the benefits of family trusts I will call this policy a double standard. I wonder how the people who lost money in finance company collapses feel about the perpetrators going back to live in their mansions and overseas holiday lifestyles? Remember it was the taxpayer who paid $1.775 billion - or $405 for every man woman and child in New Zealand - to bail out South Canterbury Finance. Where are the resources for investigating fraud best spend from a taxpayer point of view?
21/02/2013 11:19:20 a.m.
Nothing will change.its going to cost 200 million to recover 40 million. then more taxpayer money to process through the justice system. obviously this is about something else and people shouldnt let their emotions of beneficheries get in the way of reality. this govt is the problem.
21/02/2013 9:52:11 a.m.
Are these hypocritical double standards surprising at all??
21/02/2013 9:19:26 a.m.
The benefit system is there to fall back on when times are tough, its not there so you can make a living out of it as that defeats the intended purpose.
I have no sympathy for those who think their entitled to more than what they should be getting and decide to rip the system off which means we as the tax payer keep paying more and more.
20/02/2013 10:29:36 p.m.
Jim Seaview wrote:
I think that the trying to reduce welfare fraud is a great idea. What worries me is their better information sharing between the likes of ACC, IRD, Housing New Zealand, the Police and the Ministry of Social Development.WOW! All of these above named Government run agencies have a history of regularly leaking confidential information not only of single clients but sometimes they leak the details of multiple clients. To think that these Government Departments are going to share information is a real concern.
20/02/2013 9:59:22 p.m.
BAZZA -it's because the left are morons and think it's OK to rip tax payers off.
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