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Govt to cancel drug users' benefits

Tuesday 28 Aug 2012 9:37 a.m.

Paula Bennett says recreational drug use is simply not an acceptable excuse for avoiding available work (pic: Victoria Evans)

Paula Bennett says recreational drug use is simply not an acceptable excuse for avoiding available work (pic: Victoria Evans)

By 3 News online staff

Unemployment beneficiaries who fail drug tests twice or don’t apply for drug-tested jobs will have their benefits cancelled, the Government has announced.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett hinted towards the plans earlier this year and this morning revealed how it would work.

Ms Bennett says the drug crackdown will apply to all beneficiaries who are looking for work or those with employment conditions on their benefits.

If a person fails a drug test or doesn’t apply for a drug-tested job, they will be given a warning by Work and Income and given 30 days to get their systems clean.

If for a second time a person fails a drug test or fails to apply for a drug-tested job, their benefit will be cancelled, only to be reinstated if they are clean a month later.

Ms Bennett says 40 percent of the jobs listed with Work and Income require drug tests and too many beneficiaries are not getting these jobs because recreational drugs are in their systems.

“Thousands of working New Zealanders are in jobs requiring they be clean of drugs - it’s reasonable to expect someone looking for work to do the same,” she says.

The new plans come into effect in April next year and exclude those on prescribed medication. 

Beneficiaries with addiction problems will be given support, Ms Bennett says.

Earlier this month, it was revealed these new measures would costs twice as much as they would save.

Radio New Zealand obtained a leaked Ministry of Health memo which gave the drug test rules a price tag of $14 million.

3 News

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