“Data from the Ministry for Social Development shows that they’ve all but given up on prosecuting people for benefit fraud,” says ACT’s Social Development spokesperson Karen Chhour.
“Every year that Labour has been in Government there have been significantly less completed prosecutions for benefit fraud, this doesn’t just mean successful prosecutions, this means prosecutions carried out.
“This has also seen the backlog of over 1000 cases last year blow out to 2,427 as at 31 March 2022.
“2016/17 saw 450 prosecutions carried out, this was down to 60 by 2020/21 and 2021/22 is set to be even lower with only 30 recorded so far.
“Somehow despite plummeting prosecution rates, spending on investigations has increased from approx. $2.9 million per quarter in 2016/17 to $4.2 million per quarter in 2021/22.
“Taxpayers are being ripped off. The Social Development Minister must give New Zealanders an assurance that she is doing everything she can to tackle fraud in the welfare system.
“Labour has weakened obligations and sanctions on beneficiaries, and made benefits more widely available through welfare reforms, the least the Minister should be doing is ensuring that the current welfare system isn’t being abused.
“The Minister needs to front up and explain why MSD isn’t prosecuting. It simply isn’t realistic to believe that there are 10 times less people committing fraud when there are 70,000 more on a benefit.
“A culture of victimhood is perpetuating Labour’s welfare approach rather than the belief that people can make a difference in their own lives. Instead of seeing benefits as the solution, Labour needs to get to the root of poverty by growing the economy and fixing our education system.”