19 Mar 2014

Relationship fraud bill progresses

8:49 am on 19 March 2014

Legislation that would make both parties in a relationship responsible for welfare fraud is a step closer to becoming law.

Under the new offence of relationship fraud, a person would be liable for the debt incurred by their partner fraudulently claiming a benefit, and could also be fined or imprisoned.

Courts Minister Chester Borrows.

Courts Minister Chester Borrows. Photo: RNZ

Associate Social Development Minister Chester Borrows says that some people work but also make money off their partner's benefits.

He says at the moment it's the beneficiary who takes all the blame and debt while the other gets away with it, which is not fair.

Labour MP Jacinda Ardern says if it is fair to change the laws around relationship benefit fraud, then it should be also the case for tax fraud.

She says clearly when tax fraud occurs it often benefits a partner.

Despite those objections Labour supported the bill, which passed its second reading by 102 votes to 18.