Just a handful of local beneficiaries had payments cut for taking drugs last year and a community advocate says people on benefits who want to work shouldn't be singled out for testing.

Beneficiaries with work obligations are now required to take and pass a drug test when asked to as part of a job application, with sanctions applied to their benefits for failing the tests.

Last year, there were 1860 referrals for drug-testable positions in the wider Bay of Plenty and just 10 sanctions applied for failing, according to Ministry of Social Development (MSD) figures provided to the Rotorua Daily Post under the Official Information Act.

Rotorua district councillor and community advocate Merepeka Raukawa-Tait said the low number of failed tests was a positive thing.


However, she questioned why rules and regulations were always put in place specifically for beneficiaries applying for jobs.

"If it's good enough for one, then it's good enough for everyone," she said.

Mrs Raukawa-Tait said drugs featured in the lives of a number of beneficiaries she knew and the drug-free message still needed to get through to some.

Tests weren't required by all employers but they were becoming more common.

"I think if people are serious about wanting a job then they have to understand that this might be the adjustment they have to make in their lives to become drug-free," she said.

"If you've got a family to look after, maybe start to put them first and think 'well, being drug-free mightn't be such a bad idea after all'."

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31 May, 2016 8:39am
3 minutes to read

Nationwide, there were 31,791 referrals for drug-testable positions last year with 55 sanctions for failing a drug tests, according to MSD figures.

Sanctions for failing a drug test made up less than 0.5 per cent of the 15,000 total sanctions applied for working age beneficiaries last year.