Isaac Davison

Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Welfare cuts for almost 100 fugitives

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett. Photo / Janna Dixon
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett. Photo / Janna Dixon

Nearly 100 beneficiaries on the run from police have had their welfare cut in the six weeks since the policy was introduced, Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said today.

As part of the Government's wide-ranging welfare reforms, a beneficiary on an outstanding arrest warrant for more than 28 days was given ten days to clear the warrant.

If they did not, they had their welfare cut, or up to half of it if they were a parent with dependent children.

"Arrest warrants don't just go away by themselves," Mrs Bennett said. "They have to be dealt with and by prompting action through the benefit system, that's happening faster."

In the six weeks since the policy was implemented, 95 people have failed to turned themselves in and have lost their welfare payment.

Ms Bennett said the policy had also helped to clear 161 arrest warrants. In all, 311 people had been warned.

She said taxpayers should not be subsidising people who were on the run from the police.

The reforms also allowed the Police Commissioner to request the immediate suspension of welfare payments to high-risk offenders.

This sanction had been used nine times.

In the House, Labour's new social development spokeswoman Sue Moroney questioned how the policy would help beneficiaries find jobs.

Mrs Bennett said Government had to resolve a person's problems with police before it could deal with the person's employment status.

"Currently, they are actually breaking the law. So we through we would clear up the legal problems that they've got .. and then we'll work on the job."

There were around 15,000 outstanding arrest warrants at one time, and 8000 of these were people were on welfare.

By the numbers:

# 311 beneficiaries warned for having an arrest warrant for more than 28 days

# 161 arrest warrants cleared

# 95 benefits cut (9 of them high-risk offenders)

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf04 at 25 Oct 2014 13:01:16 Processing Time: 517ms