Your Voice Election 2017 – ‘Sally’s* experience of how awful WINZ are

By   /   February 15, 2017  /   4 Comments

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I am not interested in religious help, I expect the state to assist me when I need it and according to the 1964 Social Security Act I should be able to access it I think, but have found I am not able to get any extra assistance because I am a sole parent!

As part of our election coverage of shaming the neoliberal welfare state who treat the poorest and most vulnerable amongst us with contempt, here is Sally’s* experience of Ministry of Social Development

Hi there,

Just writing to let you know that after dealing with WINZ for years as an underemployed relief Teacher and single parent, that last year, 2016, I had 2 accidents, which meant I had to approach Winz for extra assistance.

I tried for a Temp Assistance Grant to help meet medical costs and paying bills, debts etc as I was not able to walk properly and had no extra work.

It was declined, and I asked why, reminding my case worker that I hadn’t earnt any extra money since Oct 2015. I was annoyed and disheartened, but with support of my friends I attempted to get into my debt to pay for health needs and get better. But the stress of increasing debt and my hobbling walk meant that in August as my health continued to deteriorate I had a fall that put me in a worse situation of high pain and low muscle control. I went to the doctor to report this and get help rather than go all the way to hospital 50km away as pain level was too severe to go far.

I had to also deal with ACC during this time, as the first accident I had to go to A&E to get piece of glass removed from foot while walking down the main street in sandals in summer.

This was not helpful as their surcharges meant I could not access a Doctor, Podiatrist, Physio and other assistance – despite numerous phone calls from me requesting a case manager and help, due to me already having a chronic back pain from a housefire accident in 1990.

Because of their attitude towards me by a caseworker who was finally assigned, told me in person and in a letter that I was not a tax payer and they would not help me!?

Of course I am a tax payer, both income and GST, so I went to a Community Law office, who recommended an ACC Lawyer. who have responded to my requests, but ACC have just got me to do forms and sent me to a back specialist.

WINZ, Levin, in October at an appointment I again applied for a Disability allowance to help cover costs and Temp Assistance, and on it has gone, with very little change.

In December, I became very annoyed as they were still not paying me a DA or Temp Assistance, and the Branch manager got involved. She noticed that my case worker had not updated my earnings, and this was why my DA and Temp Assistance was being declined!

However, they needed more forms filled in – so I got them done at the Doctors, and they granted me a DA of $2.90, and no Temp Assistance.

I became very angry at this, and wrote letters to the Branch manager requesting a review, backpay etc. She increased it to $11 and no backpay since then.

I have now gone to the MP Nathan Guy to complain. I have rung up 0800 number and laid a formal complaint.

I am being forced into a more stressful situation and nearly had a heart attack/stroke  in December over it, and am now on blood pressure pills.

Over xmas period I was not able to make rent payments and went in for rent arrears in January and asked about my back pay. I tried to keep paying rent, but because I have more  debt accumulated I had to meet these first so that I am not bankrupted.

So I am not paying rent now and am risking being made homeless due to their incompetency or nastiness towards me and what my Doctor has agreed to.

I still have not received any Temporary Assistance, which I applied for in Feb/March last year, or back pay or any real word of why.

I am still waiting to hear from MP’s office.

I am still stressed about this, but my health is improving as I have been able to pay for the health care I need and food etc for me and my son.

I am tired of having to deal with hostile security people, and do not want to have to go to their office.

I think they are just hoping I will go away and join the homeless and others that the Salvation Army will ‘help me’.

I am not interested in religious help, I expect the state to assist me when I need it and according to the 1964 Social Security Act I should be able to access it I think, but have found I am not able to get any extra assistance because I am a sole parent!

Inhumane and unfair!

My rent strike continues…Where is my backpay?

Shall I get a lawyer?

I know they are doing this crap to others, and I have been put into this position of poverty by them, so I have decided to protect myself and my family and keep going, rather than worry about being made homeless.

I have told my landlady that I am waiting for Winz to backpay me etc and so far she is understanding, but is concerned for her mortgage.

I would rather be working and not dealing with them, like many others, but despite my best efforts I have not been able to get regular work in any job from Teaching to working at the local supermarket or elsewhere?

Because of course I can not afford to move to another area, and WINZ will only help me if I get a job, but I have not been able to get one, probably partly because I don’t live in the area and they take someone else.

Catch 22 I think.

This is my trapped condition of being on a benefit in nasty beneficiary bashing NZ which of course has got worse under the Nats.


*Sally is a pseudonym to protect their identity 

Have you been treated poorly by our neoliberal welfare state and wish to bring attention to your experience anonymously so that they can’t punish you? Check out our 2017 election campaign to do just that.

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  1. jay says:

    If I’d gone through all that I would have committed suicide! (No levity intended) Again I despair about NZ.

  2. Mike in Auckland says:

    So much for helping people “break free from welfare dependence”, this proves that it is a total BS slogan, that is intended to make injured and sick feel even worse and “guilty” for their hopeless lot.

    What Sally has experienced is the result of endless tightening up, of endless new requirements, of creating a chicken – egg scenario, or catch 22 one, as she mentions.

    How do you get out of this, when they do all to make it extremely hard to get any support. Who the hell can afford a lawyer when on a benefit? I am sorry and angry reading this story.

  3. Strypey says:

    My thoughts and best wishes are with you Sally and others in your situation. Somehow we must do better. If we can’t have a UBI, which seems like the obvious solution, what about a means-tested benefit paid automatically to everyone by the IRD? People in paid employment would have their payments reduced week by week as their PAYE was deducted. The self-employed could declare their income each week as they do now to WINZ, or opt-out of the benefit, to avoid having it added to their tax bill. Benefit fraud would be investigated and prosecuted the same way tax fraud is now.

  4. Z says:

    What is curious is that Work and Income continue to avoid the connection between this type of denial of entitlements and security incidents.

    Sorry for your loss. Self esteem and mana, energy, and general enjoyment of life, ongoing stress and the tacit threat it can easily happen again purely on a whim.