Benefit crackdown saves $47m: Govt

Last updated 10:30 06/08/2014

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The Government has cancelled more than 6900 benefits and saved $47 million through a crackdown on welfare fraud.

Measures introduced by National in the last term of government include beefed up powers to tackle "relationship fraud", information sharing between Inland Revenue and the Ministry of Social Development and stricter monitoring of almost 2000 beneficiaries caught gaming the system.

The ministry prosecuted 893 people in the 2013/14 year, associate minister Chester Borrows said. It also completed 4614 investigations, established 2270 overpayments.

Information sharing between the two agencies alone saw future welfare payouts worth $44.8m cancelled. Just over $3m in overpayments was recovered and more than 350 people successfully prosecuted.

"These are not people being kicked to the kerb - they are people who are working, and earning enough money that they are no longer eligible for the benefit, who have failed in their obligation to tell us this has occurred," Borrows said.

A new law, which came into force in early July, has targeted the estimated $15.4m a year overpaid to those who misrepresent their relationships status to claim benefits.

Both parties in the relationship are now liable for the debt under the new legislation and the new rules are expected to apply to about 1000 cases a year.

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