Cutting benefits to offenders not complying with community sentences

18 August 2016

Parliament is considering a bill that aims to encourage certain offenders to complete their community-based sentences. The bill would allow all or part of an offender’s benefit to be stopped if they have repeatedly failed to comply with a community-based sentence.

Man Clearing Leaves From Guttering Of House Enlarge image

Source: iStock

The Social Security (Stopping Benefit Payments for Offenders who Repeatedly Fail to Comply with Community Sentences) Amendment Bill is a member’s bill in the name of Mark Mitchell MP. It is now being considered by the Social Services Committee, and the committee is calling for submissions from the public.

Before deciding to stop a benefit, the Department of Corrections must have exhausted all options (other than prosecution) in attempting to get the offender to comply with the sentence. The Department would then have to send two written warnings to the offender, two weeks apart, stating that their benefit may be stopped if they do not comply with their community-based sentence.

If the offender is still not complying with their sentence 14 days after receiving the second letter, the Department could instruct the Ministry of Social Development to stop all or part of their benefit.

If the offender were caring for a dependent child, their benefit could not be cut by more than 50 percent.

The Social Services Committee is now calling for submissions on the bill, with a closing date of 28 September 2016.

People can make their submissions online here on the Parliament website.