National claims jobless will pretend to be students for money

  • 26/11/2017

Fulltime students are set to earn more in benefits than those on the dole, potentially tempting people to rort the system, National says.

The Government announced last week it was set to increase the student allowance by $50 per week.

This means the allowance for single students aged 24 years or under will increase from $177 to $227 a week, compared to the current job seeker benefit of $175.

Those who are single and aged over 24 will receive $262 - compared to an existing job seeker benefit of $210.

It comes as the Government has also promised students their first year of higher education fees will be free as of January 1.

But National's tertiary education spokesman Paul Goldsmith has questioned the allowance boost.

He said the allowance had previously been pegged at the same amount given to job seekers to prevent people from enrolling in courses to access benefits without intending to study.

"[Now] with all tertiary courses free from next year, what's to stop any sensible beneficiary taking advantage and enrolling in study in order to pocket an extra $50 a week?"

"While all Kiwis would like to see unemployed New Zealanders engaging in genuine study, decoupling student allowances from benefit levels opens the system to abuse."

Mr Goldsmith called on the Government to explain how it would stop people rorting the system in the wake of the changes.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins says the Government has been careful to do its homework on the issue.

"We're pretty confident we've got enough safeguards in place to weed out that kind of behaviour," he says.

"It would frankly be a very foolish person who did that, because they would lose any eligibility for future support if they did that, under exisiting rules."

Students who don't pass more than half their courses won't be eligible for subsequent years of free education.

"If someone sets out to basically rort the system, they'll be clamped down on and then they'll lose their ability to access the system any further," says Mr Hipkins.

Tertiary providers could lose funding for "non-completions" under rules introduced by the National Government, which Mr Hipkins says will ensure providers will be mindful of enrolling people who are not taking their education seriously.

NZN / Newshub.