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

Sunday, August 7, 2011

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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