National | Green Party

When is benefit fraud - fraud or survival?

Following the admission of former Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei, a Social Work Practices expert says if her intent was for the survival of her family, then she believes she hasn't committed fraud.

For some benefit fraud is black and white.

Te Kāea received mixed views on the matter via social media.

Last night Metiria Turei resigned as Co-Leader of the Green Party because of unbearable scrutiny toward her whānau following her benefit fraud admission. Social Worker expert Dr Fiona Te Momo says Turei may not have done wrong.

“What I'm hearing is the rationale behind the intent was in order to feed and house her child, her tamariki. Therefore it would not be, and this is where you'd need a lawyers - a personal gain. So if that's the intent, and you'd probably have to look behind the stories, I would not say its fraud.”

A studying single beneficiary mum of three, who also has two foster children empathises.

“In my position there comes a time when you have to make that decision and be like well do I do what's legally right or do I do what's morally right?

When you can't afford bread, your kid's don't have breakfast because you need to pay for the roof over your head,” says Cheri Maki.

In 2016 Social Development investigated 5326 cases of benefit fraud, of those only 598 were prosecuted. That's the lowest number since 2008.

Last year the government recovered $24.1mil from successful prosecutions of fraud.