Amendments made to stop de-facto relationship beneficiary fraud

By Harata Brown

Yesterday the amendment bill that changes the Social Security Act passed its 3rd reading, which punishes partners of those receiving benefits, which they are not entitled to if they are in a relationship. Before this, the benefit recipient was the only person able to be punishable.

Before the Amendment Bill came to the fore, it was the recipient of the sole parent benefit who was only able to be punished, although their partner may have bludged off them as well.

In 2012, a study found welfare fraud cost $39 million dollars. The Associate Social Development Minister says the bill is fair in that it makes both spouses and partners jointly responsible for the debt if they knew about the fraud, or turned a blind eye.

The Bill passed its 3rd reading by 102 votes to 17. The Māori Party were also in opposition, MP for Te Waiariki Te Ururoa Flavell says beneficiaries have it hard, he says “it's better to come out hard against fraudulent behaviour done by white collar fraudsters.”

The Bill comes in to force on the 7th of July.