Government beneficiaries crackdown figures revealed


Newshub can reveal the full extent of the Government's crackdown on beneficiaries.

Since hard-line welfare reforms in 2013, 165,177 sanctions have been placed on beneficiary payments.

The majority were for failing to attend an appointment, but also included failing a drugs test and refusing a job.

The penalties range from a 25 percent reduction in benefit to a full cancellation for 13 weeks.

Today there was a steady stream of foot traffic into Newtown's WINZ office in Wellington, hoping to avoid penalties for breaking the benefit rules

The Government's sanctions regime is based on a series of 'strikes' for offending beneficiaries.

Strike one earns a decrease of 25 or 50 percent in their benefit. Since 2013, a little more than 106,000 such penalties have been dished out.

Strike two in the same year would see a benefit suspended and 41,500 of these penalties have been issued.

Strike three means the benefit is cancelled all together -- 17,000 of these sanctions have been imposed in three years.

There's also a 'grade four' offence -- refusal to take a job, which carries an automatic penalty of the benefit being suspended for 13 weeks, a penalty 229 people have faced.

Minister of Social Development Anne Tolley says the rules are made to be followed.

The figures also show that in 2014 and 2015 the number of sanctions issued are virtually the same -- about 70,000.

Which begs the question -- are any lessons being learned?