By News Now 1

Two thirds of beneficiaries who fail drug tests are still hit with sanctions, despite an admission last year it "doesn't help people become employed and independent". 

People on benefits were put forward for almost 40,000 roles that required drug testing in the year to June, 2019. Clients could be referred to multiple roles that needed drug testing. 

Of the tests carried out, 114 failed. That included those who refused the test or did not turn up. It is not known how many tests were actually carried out. 

Last year, the Ministry of Social Development's (MSD) deputy chief executive Viv Rickard said applying sanctions did not help. 

"For normal New Zealanders, they will think we can stop their benefit.

"Of course we can, but that's not our mode of approach, that's not our operating model because doing that doesn't help people become employed and independent," he told 1 NEWS at the time. 

Despite this view, official information obtained by 1 NEWS showed the Ministry went on to impose 72 sanctions.

The Green Party called it a breach of trust. 

"I take that as Work and Income breaking their promise to people and I think that really undermines the trust in the system," said Green MP Jan Logie. 

Last year, Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni said she agreed the sanctions were "stigmatising". 

"But it's a hangover from the previous Government". 

National Party leader Simon Bridges said today he did not think the Government would change the policy. 

"It's like so many areas, we're seeing the Government is pretty part-time and incompetent. They're failing to deliver on their promises."

Today, Mr Rickard emailed a response saying sanctions "are a legal obligation and any changes to any sanctions would require changes to the Social Security Act".