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COVID-19 Wage Subsidy

Chris Dolmeth made this Official Information request to Ministry of Social Development

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From: Chris Dolmeth

Dear Ministry of Social Development,

Could you please provide me with the following information:

-The number of applications for any COVID-19 Wage Subsidy payment by an individual identified as being in receipt of assistance from the Ministry of Social Development (MSD).

-The number of investigations made into such applications to determine entitlement.

-The number of beneficiaries who received any COVID-19 Wage Subsidy payment and were not entitled to receive it.

-The number of beneficiaries who made a false application for any COVID-19 Wage Subsidy payment.

-The total number of refunds requested from beneficiaries who were not entitled to any COVID-19 Wage Subsidy payment, including total dollar value.

-The total number of refunds received and total dollar value.

-The total number of refunds requested from beneficiaries who made false applications to any COVID-19 Wage Subsidy payment, including total dollar value.

-The total number of refunds received and total dollar value.

-The total number of prosecutions that have commenced against a beneficiary for making any false application for any COVID-19 Wage Subsidy payment.

Yours faithfully,

Chris

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From: OIA_Requests (MSD)
Ministry of Social Development

Tēnā koe Chris Dolmeth,

 

Thank you for your email received 10 November 2021, under the Official
Information Act 1982. Your request has been forwarded to the appropriate
officials at National Office to respond. 

 

The Ministry is focussing its resources on supporting New Zealanders
through COVID-19 by administering welfare support during this
unprecedented time.  Resources within our business units, where
information for OIA requests is drawn from, is limited or unavailable. 
Staff have been redeployed to assist the frontline with the processing of
welfare payments. As such, there may be a delay in you receiving a
response from the Ministry.

 

Thank you for your patience and understanding during this time. 

 

Ngā manaakitanga,

 

Official and Parliamentary Information Team | Ministerial and Executive
Services

Ministry of Social Development

 

Our Purpose:
We help New Zealanders to help themselves to be safe, strong and
independent
Ko ta mātou he whakamana tangata kia tū haumaru, kia tū kaha, kia tū
motuhake

 

 

 

 

 

 

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From: OIA_Requests (MSD)
Ministry of Social Development

Tçnâ koe Chris Dolmeth

On 10 November 2021, you emailed the Ministry of Social Development (the
Ministry) requesting, under the Official Information Act 1982, the
following information:

-The number of applications for any COVID-19 Wage Subsidy payment by an
individual identified as being in receipt of assistance from the Ministry
of Social Development (MSD).

-The number of investigations made into such applications to determine
entitlement.

-The number of beneficiaries who received any COVID-19 Wage Subsidy
payment and were not entitled to receive it.

-The number of beneficiaries who made a false application for any COVID-19
Wage Subsidy payment.

-The total number of refunds requested from beneficiaries who were not
entitled to any COVID-19 Wage Subsidy payment, including total dollar
value.

-The total number of refunds received and total dollar value.

-The total number of refunds requested from beneficiaries who made false
applications to any COVID-19 Wage Subsidy payment, including total dollar
value.

-The total number of refunds received and total dollar value.

-The total number of prosecutions that have commenced against a
beneficiary for making any false application for any COVID-19 Wage Subsidy
payment.

This letter is to advise you that the Ministry requires more time to
respond to this request. In accordance with section 15(1) and 15A of the
Official Information Act, the Ministry’s decision will be with you no
later than 21 December 2021.

The reason for the extension is that consultations necessary to make a
decision on the request are such that a proper response to the request
cannot reasonably be made within the original time limit.

You have the right to seek an investigation and review by the Ombudsman of
this decision. Information about how to make a complaint is available at
[1]www.ombudsman.parliament.nz or 0800 802 602.

If you wish to discuss any aspect of your request with us, including this
decision, please feel free to contact [2][MSD request email]

I will respond to you sooner if I am able to.

Ngâ manaakitanga,

Official and Parliamentary Information team   |  Ministerial and
Executive Services

Ministry of Social Development | Te Manatû Whakahiato Ora

Our purpose:
We help New Zealanders to be safe, strong and independent.
Manaaki Tangata, Manaaki Whânau.

 

 

 

 

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From: OIA_Requests (MSD)
Ministry of Social Development


Attachment 2021121 OIA Response DOLMETH.pdf
204K Download View as HTML


Tçnâ koe Chris Dolmeth,

 

Please find attached the Ministry’s response to your Official Information
Act request.

 

 

Nâ mâtou noa, nâ

 

Official and Parliamentary Information Team | Ministerial and Executive
Services

Ministry of Social Development | Te Manatû Whakahiato Ora

 

Our Purpose:
We help New Zealanders to be safe, strong and independent.
Manaaki Tangata, Manaaki Whânau.

 

 

------------------------------- This email and any attachments may contain
information that is confidential and subject to legal privilege. If you
are not the intended recipient, any use, dissemination, distribution or
duplication of this email and attachments is prohibited. If you have
received this email in error please notify the author immediately and
erase all copies of the email and attachments. The Ministry of Social
Development accepts no responsibility for changes made to this message or
attachments after transmission from the Ministry.
-------------------------------

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From: Chris Dolmeth

Dear OIA_Requests (MSD),

Thank you for your reply and the information provided in response to my request.

In your response, you have stated the following -

"The Ministry is unable to report on how many benefit fraud investigations may have
included Wage Subsidy allegations, integrity checks, investigations, or refund
requests which included benefit recipients. This information would be held on
individual client files, and in order to provide you with this information, Ministry staff
would have to manually review thousands of files. As such, I refuse your request
under section 18(f) of the Act. The greater public interest is in the effective and
efficient administration of the public service."

I have spoken with an employee of the Ministry of Social Development confidentially and have been advised the following -

"MSD records all of its investigations in a system called Investigation Management System. All investigations have an Activity Type. All Wage Subsidy investigations come under "COVID-19 Wage Subsidy" for reporting purposes. Management have the ability to report on these cases and will be able to confirm the information you have asked for in your request. They won't have to review individual files to confirm this information."

I would appreciate your response to this, as while I understand the effective and efficient administration of the public service is a priority, the information seems readily accessible and your grounds for refusal may not be valid.

Furthermore, you have provided a link to weekly reporting statistics on the Work and Income website, however this does not specify how many refunds were requested (due to fraud or non-entitlement), or the total amount of money repaid to these requests. The generic information published on your website does not categorise overpayments or refunds to this category.

I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,

Chris

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