BIG NEWS: Why is the Government paying benefits to those who have left the country?

Monday, August 08, 2011

Why is the Government paying benefits to those who have left the country?

About 7400 are no longer receiving benefits after failing to reapply for their benefit after 12 months and the government is saying it is a $3.5m saving. ( update its a $9.5m saving now ). According to media reports:
Half of the people who were now off it did not reapply. Of the other half, 2000 were already in work, 1400 had left the county, were in study or failed the work test.
We don’t have any idea how many were studying or how many failed the work test as the Prime Minister didn’t say and nobody appeared to ask him.

But a lot of people must have been were getting benefits they were not entitled to - like the 1400 who had left the country, and WINZ apparently had no idea that they had left the country. It’s their job to have an idea.

If thousands didn’t reapply, should they have been getting it at all? Some were in work, some had left the country. If they had left the country three months earlier, who is the benefit being paid to before it is cancelled? If they were in work, are the overpayments going to be recovered?

In such cases, while WINZ should be told if there are changes that affect benefits, shouldn’t case managers be keeping tabs on their ”clients” to ensure they are paying correct entitlements, and cutting off benefits shortly after they go to work/overseas – not months later.

John Key said it could be assumed that the people who did not reapply were in work. Yet he has no idea how many of those who did not reapply were in prison, studying, formed a new relationship, or had left the country.

So this is not a $3.5m (or $9m) “saving” – this is merely $3.5m saving less overspending, less an undisclosed amount of unrecovered overpayments paid before the benefits were cancelled.

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Blogger Will de Cleene said...

The National government just legalised Superannuitants to travel or live overseas and still collect their benefit. Some bennies are more equal than others, eh.

August 8, 2011 at 5:10 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

I can't even be sure what that paragraph means, it's really ambiguously worded. It could well mean that 7400 people came off the benefit, half of them because they didn't reapply, and the other half because their circumstances changed. Poor journalism.

(Will - superannuation isn't a benefit in the same sense. It's a retirement fund. Those people are now too old to work, having put into the system for their entire lives. If, now that they can't work, they want to take the time to travel, it seems reasonable to me. A lot of people never have a chance to travel during their "employable" years either because of cost or the difficulty in getting time off.)

August 8, 2011 at 5:17 PM  
Blogger Lyndon said...

PR at has a little more.

I'm inclined to assume that those numbers are of those who underwent assessments. ie many started studying, got jobs or left the country.

Why all of them (or, if the've been discovering frauds, all of *them*) should count as savings from the assessment changes Bennett is referring to, I have no idea.

August 8, 2011 at 5:17 PM  
Blogger Adolf Fiinkensein said...

W de Cl, perhaps that's because superannuation is not a benefit in the same sense as unemplyment or dpb?

Surely it's not too difficult to record beneficiarie's passport numbers and have an automatic cross reference from immigration counters at airports?

If you bugger off to Sydney, the benefit stops until you can show good cause why it should be resumed?

August 8, 2011 at 5:19 PM  
Blogger Swimming said...

Lyndon, I'm wondering whether some people who legitimately cancelled their benefits in the 11th or 12 month ( or whenever) because they got work are counted as "savings" with relation to the new policy. Of course I have no idea and nobody seems to have asked.

Adolf, benefit only stops when WINZ is told or finds out about it.

August 8, 2011 at 5:30 PM  

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