Beneficiaries' food grants might become food parcels

TRACY WATKINS
Last updated 05:00 23/07/2012
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Beneficiaries receiving food grants could be sent food parcels instead - one of the measures being looked at in talks between the Government and supermarkets.

The Government is also in talks over how to find out what beneficiaries are spending their emergency grants on now that some are being supplied with smartcards, instead of cash - and is trying to negotiate a discount on its $62 million a year grocery spend.

The moves are among a raft of measures being driven through the office of Social Development Minister Paula Bennett and others as they look for tighter control over welfare payments.

Ms Bennett also revealed data matching between government agencies had unveiled rorts where the accommodation supplement was claimed by a number of members of one household for a single rent bill.

One case she cited involved several children from one family claiming the accommodation supplement on a state house where the parents paid only $80 a week in income-related rent.

Ms Bennett said the Government was looking at measures across a range of payments “to make sure we are getting value for money”.

“I've been talking to the supermarkets because we spend about $62 million, and talking about trying to get a bit of a discount or a better service for the spend and better information.”

There had also been a suggestion from supermarkets that people may not even have to go to the supermarket to get their food. “There might be room for us to order online or even have set food parcels and it's just something we're looking at really closely. So imagine instead of getting $150 you might actually get a food parcel, like the budgeting services provide.”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister John Key suggested that changing the law to allow adoption by gay and civil union couples was a low priority for his Government.

A remit to change the law to allow same-sex and civil union couples to adopt was backed by more than 500 delegates at a National Party conference in Auckland this weekend.

But Mr Key said there were fewer than 200 non-family adoptions a year and it was not “the biggest issue we face”.

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