18 Aug 2009

Minister calls for review of highest-paid beneficiaries

1:46 pm on 18 August 2009

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has asked for a review of the country's highest-paid beneficiaries.

About 300 people on benefits are receiving more than $1,000 a week. The figures have been released by the minister in response to questions from the Labour Party.

More than half of those receiving more than $1,000 a week are on a domestic purposes benefit. The rest are on invalid's, sickness or unemployment benefits.

Additional assistance can include accommodation supplements, family tax credits, special benefits, disability allowances and child care subsidies.

Ms Bennett has asked officials to look at the 50 people receiving the most assistance to check their entitlements.

Prime Minister John Key supports the review. He says taxpayers have to feel confident the system is providing the necessary support, but also value for money.

The Green Party is concerned the review indicates National might be considering cuts to benefit amounts or eligibility, but Mr Key says that is not the Government's intention at this point.

Labour's social development spokesperson, Annette King, says a close eye is kept on payments and she does not see the need for a special review.

She says the number of people receiving more than $1,000 a week is a small proportion of the 310,000 people on a benefit.