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Privacy for agencies

Annual Report

Purpose: To identify people who are receiving benefits from MSD while in paid employment.

Year commenced: 1993

Features: The programme is conducted on an ad hoc basis and data is transferred manually. (Currently suspended.)

Employers disclosure to MSD: Employers who are likely to have significant numbers of transitory employees are selected for review by MSD regional offices. The selected employers are required to provide the full names, addresses and IRD numbers of their employees.

2011/12 activity: Not operated during 2011/2012.

Commentary: This match remains suspended by MSD.

Compliance: Compliant.

Technical information

Statutory authorisation Social Security Act 1964, s.11A[1]
Year authorised 1993
Programme type Confirming eligibility
Detecting illegal behaviour
Unique identifiers Tax File number

System description

In this programme, employment information is obtained from employers. Section 11A of the Social Security Act 1964 authorises MSD to require employers to supply the names, addresses and tax file numbers of their employees. MSD uses these powers to limit its focus to particular industries or organisations, particularly those employing large numbers of casual staff.

The programme is operated locally in the 10 MSD Benefit Control Areas. Individual Benefit Control Area managers must approve requests for information being sent to particular employers. A National Office register is checked to ensure that the employer has not been subject to a notice within the last 12 months. If approval is granted, the employer is served with a notice by the Benefit Control Area office. Employers extract the required information and forward it to the Benefit Control Area, which matches the data with the SWIFTT database to identify discrepancies.

Individuals are sent a notice of adverse action (s.103 notice) advising details of any discrepancy and that their employer will be contacted concerning the details of their employment or, alternatively, that they may supply this information themselves.

If a person challenges the match that has been made and can satisfactorily prove that they were not the person identified, the information is destroyed. When details of the employment have been obtained (i.e. commencement/cessation dates, earnings etc.) an assessment is made and, if appropriate, an overpayment debt is established.


Historical activity

  2004/05 2005/06 2006/07 2007/08 2008/09
Matches approved 36 43 34 1 1
Total employees checked 21,053 31,037 20,772 23 1
Cases investigated 2,884 2,921 1,556 0 23
Benefits cancelled or adjusted 1,266 1,339 648 0 0
Total cost $107,657 $101,629 $227,347 $175 0
Net savings[2] $2,356,563 $2,878,700 $1,356,348 ($175) $175.31
Notices of adverse action sent 2,766 2,959 1,324 0 0
Challenges declined 121 217 204 0 0
Challenges upheld 6 119 27 0 0

Activity in this programme was largely suspended in 2007/08 as MSD sought to shift its focus from reactive identification of fraud to a more preventative approach.

[1] While not listed as an ¬Ďinformation matching provision' in the Privacy Act, Schedule 3, nonetheless sections 11A(6) and (7) of the Social Security Act effectively requires the programme to be operated in accordance with the requirements of Privacy Act, Part 10, for most purposes.
[2] 'Savings' includes estimated prospective savings as well as overpayments actually established.