31,000 Kiwis Lose Their WINZ Benefits - Why?

Publish Date
Monday, 23 November 2015, 7:38AM

More than 30,000 New Zealanders had their benefits cut last financial year for failing to meet one vital condition.

Ministry of Social Development figures show 31,714 people had their benefits cut for going overseas without telling Work and Income - down on the previous year's 35,565.

Benefits related to jobseeker support were those most often cut.

Whangarei Citizens Advice Bureau co-ordinator Moea Armstrong said some people received a "nasty surprise" if they went away for a week then came back and realised they had no benefit.

She thought the main reason people failed to tell Work and Income about their travel was that they were unaware they had to.

Tauranga Budget Advisory Service manager Diane Bruin advised any beneficiaries travelling to tell Work and Income how long they would be away, the reason and how the travel had been funded.

Hastings Citizens Advice Bureau manager Ani Tylee said beneficiaries needed to ensure they were getting what they were entitled to.

Wairarapa Advocate Services manager Trevor Mackiewicz suggested people ask for a review if their benefit was cut and they believed they'd notified the ministry about their travel.

Ministry of Social Development service delivery deputy chief executive Carl Crafar said all beneficiaries were now required to tell Work and Income about their travel intentions or their benefits were stopped on departure.

He said the rules still allowed for overseas travel on compassionate or health grounds in certain cases.

The ministry had enhanced the information-matching systems it had with New Zealand Customs.

If people hadn't told Work and Income about their intention to travel and an automatic information match was made, their benefit would be suspended and they would receive notification.

NZ Herald