Thursday, February 21, 2013

Prosecuting beneficiary partners

National's new law that will see partner's of beneficiaries prosecuted is a good step forward.

Most of the currently prosecuted fraud - after claiming while employed - is claiming the DPB while living in a marriage-type relationship.

Most DPB claimants are women so this change generally affects men though other situations will occur. Same-sex partnerships are now recognised in  the Social Security Act so a lesbian partner could also be prosecuted. And obviously the main beneficiary might be male.  Given there is provision for couples to live together and claim a benefit in their own right - albeit at a reduced rate - the government has every right to start cracking down on people who break the rules. Both of them.

Also this move should reduce the vulnerability that having a secure income and home creates for DPB recipients - especially young, low esteem, malleable types who are all too willing to let a male sponge off her.

It's no surprise that the Maori Party aren't supportive. It's my belief that this sort of living arrangement whereby one half of the couple brings in the DPB and the other has no income, draws a benefit or works, is more common amongst Maori. It might not reflect intent to defraud necessarily. But it does reflect more transient, haphazard living.

In any case there are probably thousands of people who already know their living arrangements are not legit (some because a protection order also forbids them from living under the same roof.) Now it's a matter of changed dynamics as the blame and punishment spreads.

Will it make a difference? These people - mainly men - are risk-takers anyway. They probably have unpaid fines, other debt, previous convictions, child support debt, are possibly unemployable, possibly ex-prisoners, gang members, drug dealers. Is the threat of a $5,000 fine or prison going to change this particular behaviour? I doubt it.

But it does give the female another tool though, if she wants shot of the guy. Perhaps National should go a step further and offer an amnesty to the claiming partner if the other refuses to move out during the period following the new law implementation.

Update: Something was niggling at the back of mind about the business of actually defining someone as a partner. I had forgotten that Work and Income must demonstrate that the beneficiary is in a relationship with the required "emotional commitment" and "financial interdependence" for the other person to be defined as a de facto partner.

"...when considering if a client is in a relationship and the client indicates they are a victim of domestic violence, extra care must be taken when determining if the required level of emotional commitment is present." Here we go again with bad incentives. If he hits her he won't be a 'partner' and he won't go to prison or pay a fine. Good lord. What a mess the benefit system is.


Andrei said...

We need to go back to orphanages, if you can't support your child that is where he or she will be raised.

Take a generation or so but that would reduce the problem by eliminating the culture in time

homepaddock said...

The left are spinning this as beneficiary bashing but you've made a very good point it could help protect vulnerable women from spongers.

CorrectGuy said...

I like your idea of an amnesty - but then your previous point about not detering fraudulent behaviour is also true.

I can also see issues around dobbing in resulting in increases in domestic violence.

However, its a step in the right direction.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

"I can also see issues around dobbing in resulting in increases in domestic violence."

I can envisage both an increase and a decline in domestic violence because of a power shift generally in favour of the female. It'll play out differently in different circumstances.

Mark Hubbard said...

As I blogged this morning, to add to what Ele has said above, the accusation of beneficiary bashing highlights something important about the assumptions of the Left.

Borrows is not beneficiary bashing; he's benefit fraudster bashing. If attacking benefit fraud is beneficiary bashing, then laws against, for example, shop lifting, are shopper bashing, which is obviously ludicrous.

It is interesting, however, how the Left seem to be assuming that all beneficiaries are fraudsters, because that is the only logical basis to make the bashing claim from :)

Andrei said...

I know I'm pissing into the wind but the question should be why are so many children in New Zealand dependeant on the State and not their fathers for their daily sustenance?

And you will continue to avoid even asking yourselves this question while all the time making marriage a less and less attractive proposition for young men, bless young women opening their legs for whoever they fancy in the heat of the moment, provided a condom is deployed hah and wring you hands over how unfair it is that middle aged divorced female TV presenter can't marry their girlfriends.

Fiddle around with the law, lock up a few indigent men for snuggling up in bed with a beneficiary to show how serious you are about addressing this problem.

What a sick joke

Johnny said...

Yep, Andrei.

I said the same thing yesterday, in two words.

"Uninbloodytended consebloddyquences" of all this State nannying.

Anonymous said...

Equality in fraud. Nice.


Anonymous said...

We need to go back to orphanages, if you can't support your child that is where he or she will be raised.

Orphanages - even more expensive than prisons, a hell of a lot more expensive than the DPB!

I'm sure as hell not paying for it.

But there is a gutter outside my house that will work quite fine for a bludger family to starve.