3 Apr 2014

Thousands of benefits suspended

9:40 pm on 3 April 2014

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says it is not unreasonable to expect unemployed people receiving taxpayer support to stay in New Zealand and look for work.

Paula Bennett.

Paula Bennett. Photo: RNZ

More than 21,000 people have had their benefits suspended or cut altogether for travelling overseas since July last year.

Of those, 1750 had their benefit suspended for going overseas more than once, while 4880 had their benefits stopped altogether.

Payments are suspended for anyone on a benefit with an obligation to find work if they go overseas, and then cancelled altogether if they don't return to New Zealand or contact Work and Income after eight weeks.

Mrs Bennett says it's not unreasonable to expect people receiving taxpayer support to stay and look for work.

People can apply for an exemption for up to 28 days a year on compassionate or health grounds.