Beneficiaries with outstanding arrest warrants will no longer receive a benefit while evading police, Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has announced.
"Of the approximately 15,000 people with a current arrest warrant, around 8,200 are on benefits," Bennett said.
"If someone has an unresolved arrest warrant we will stop their benefit until they do the right thing and come forward to the authorities," she said today.
The person will be given 38 days to clear or challenge the warrant before their benefit is stopped, or reduced by 50% if they have dependent children.
"Most people clear their warrants within a month, so 38 days is a reasonable amount of time to step forward and straighten things out," says Bennett.
"Once someone has come forward their benefit can be reinstated but there will be clear consequences for people who continually refuse to acknowledge or resolve arrest warrants."
She said in cases where a person poses a danger to the public, their benefit can be stopped immediately at the request of the Police Commissioner.
People will still be able to apply for hardship assistance for themselves and their children.
The move follows a warning from Bennett last month that unemployed beneficiaries required to look for work would face sanctions if their recreational drug-taking interfered with their ability to accept jobs.
Under the welfare reform, those who fail or refuse to apply for a drug tested job would have to agree to stop using drugs or have their benefit cut by 50%. A 30-day period would be given to the job-seeker to allow any drugs to leave their body.