WINZ, waste, and wonky numbers – *up-date*

By   /   July 12, 2015  /   15 Comments

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“Thousands of people are having their benefits cut off because they are not filling in the complicated paperwork required…4916 just dropped out of the system because they did not do the paperwork.”

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hungry and homeless wellington new zealand

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Radio NZ’s reporter, Ruth Hill, posted this story on Friday 10 July. Note Ms Hill’s comment;

“However, 4916 just dropped out of the system because they did not do the paperwork.”

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Thousands losing benefits due to paperwork - radio nz - winz - msd

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Even as National  boasted about a drop in beneficiary numbers;

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Benefit numbers reach a six-year low  - fairfax media - winz - msd

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– unemployment continued to rise;

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Unemployment rises to 5.7 percent - radio nz - winz - msd - unemployment

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This discrepancy can be explained – in part – with RNZ reporter, Ruth Hill, revealing;

“Thousands of people are having their benefits cut off because they are not filling in the complicated paperwork required…

[…]

… 4916 just dropped out of the system because they did not do the paperwork.”

This was a ticking time-bomb predicted by beneficiary advocates in 2013, when National implemented many of it’s punitive welfare “reforms”;

The changes sparked protests in front of three Auckland Work and Income offices by Auckland Action Against Poverty protesters yesterday who said the moves were about “cutting costs by pushing vulnerable people off the books” rather than getting them into decent jobs.

So how bad is the problem with WINZ forms?

On  8 February 2013,  I blogged on precisely this problem (WINZ, waste, and wonky numbers);

Paula Bennett has directed WINZ to make life more difficult for the unemployed, when registering with WINZ. As if losing one’s job wasn’t stressful enough, Bennet has forced the implementation of some draconian rules and requirements for beneficiaries. (The implication being that it’s the fault of  the unemployed for being unemployed?!)

One of the bureacratic bundles of red tape are the number of forms issued to WINZ applicants.

For those readers who have never had the “delight” of dealing with WINZ – these are the forms that are required to be filled out. Note: every single applicant is given these forms (in a little plastic carry-bag).

And if you have to reapply to WINZ for a benefit (if, say, you’ve lost your job again) you are required to fill out these forms all over again.

This is where taxpayer’s money is really going to waste in welfare.

All up, seventythree  pages of information and forms to  read, understand,  fill out, to collect information;

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73-pages-of-winz-forms-1

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(Blogger’s Note: for a comprehensive view of each WINZ form, please go to  blogpost: Bill English: When numbers don’t fit, or just jump around)

This system becomes even more laughable when one considers that if an an applicant has been a WINZ “client” (ie, beneficiary) before, they remain on MSD’s computer files. Much of the information sought is already  on-file.

The cost of this must be horrendous, and it is ironic that at a time when National is cutting “back room” support staff to save money, that they are permitting taxpayer funding for this ‘Monty Pythonesque ‘ exercise in out-of-control form-filling.

No wonder that this was reported in Fairfax media,

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett this morning said latest figures showed 328,043 people were now on benefits, with 57,058 of those on an unemployment benefit.

Reforms passed by Parliament require people on an unemployment benefit to reapply for it after one year. Bennett said this change had led to 5000 people cancelling their benefit.

More than 1400 of those said they had found work, more than 2600 didn’t complete a reapplication and more than 1000 were no longer eligible. ”

How many people with minimal education or poor command of the English language could hope to fill out so many forms of such complexity?

National has a peculiar – but effective – way of dealing with unpleasant statistics.

It either does not engage in collecting data (eg; foreign house buyers, poverty levels, etc), or, it implements policies that will artificially impact on statistics without actually resolving under-lying problems. Whichever is the cheapest, easiest option. And whichever draws the least worst  headlines.

If pushing New Zealanders off welfare – by making the system unnecessarily  complex and frustrating  – has the end result of an apparent drop in welfare numbers, then that is ‘Mission Accomplished’ for this government.

Pushing people into poverty; homelessness; the degradation of street living and begging; are not matters that greatly concerned successive Social Welfare ministers, whether Paula Bennett, nor her successor, Anne “Look-At-Me-Standing-On-A-Crushed-Car” Tolley, as she told Radio NZ;

There is no reason for Work and Income to continue monitoring people who have chosen not to re-apply for a benefit.

If people require welfare support, it is their responsibility to get in touch and provide Work and Income with information that allows them to assess a beneficiary’s need. Once that is complete, Work and Income can provide the assistance people are eligible for.”

This is the same minister who told  TVNZ’s Q+A, political reporter, Corin Dann, on 21 June;

DANN:

“Some would argue with the recent case, for example, with Emma-Lita Bourne who died in the state house, [a] damp house, why not just give those families more money to pay their power bill, rather than give the organisations money to come in and work and all the rest of it?”

TOLLEY:

“And, and, when you look at something like Whanua Ora, they are doing some of that. See, see, what we’ve got with the focus on individual programmes and agencies working in silos, families don’t work like that. They’re very complex issues so if I don’t know the details of that particular family…”

Tolley admitted not knowing the details of the family whose child died of cold/damp related illness.

Make no mistake, the end purpose of seventythree forms, and having to re-apply every twelve months, is to cause frustration and dissuade people from re-applying for welfare benefits.

Ministers then trumpet “success” at a drop in welfare numbers.

The next time you see beggars on the streets with signs saying “no money, please give what you can” – they are most likely telling the truth. They are this government’s dirty little secret.

Addendum1

There is no official measure of poverty in New Zealand. The actual work to address poverty is perhaps what is most important.

Children move in and out of poverty on a daily basis.” – Paula Bennett, 16 August 2012

Addendum2

One of the more bizarre and ridiculous policies by the Ministry of Social Development is annual re-application forms sent to beneficiaries with permanent disabilities such as spina bifida.

For those who are not aware, spina bifida is a permanent, life-long condition. There is no cure.

MSD seems to believe that a miraculous recovery is possible, judging by the forms it sends every twelve months to people with spina bifida.

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jesus christ an the official from MSD

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References

Radio NZ: Thousands losing benefits due to paperwork

Fairfax media: Benefit numbers reach a six-year low

Radio NZ: Unemployment rises to 5.7 percent

Fairfax media: Number on benefits drops, reaction mixed

Fairfax media: 5000 beneficiaries quit dole rather than reapply

Fairfax media: Foreign house owner register downplayed

NZ Herald: Measuring poverty line not a priority – Bennett

TVNZ Q+A:  Interview with Anne Tolley

NZ Spina Bifida Org

Previous related blogposts

The law as a plaything

“I don’t know the details of that particular family” – Social Development Minister Anne Tolley

Bill English: When numbers don’t fit, or just jump around

WINZ, waste, and wonky numbers

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15 Comments

  1. CLEANGREEN says:

    Excellent article again Frank.

    National are just once again massaging the numbers with false evidence, called “creative accounting” as you would like to prefer to call it.

    http://steconomice.uoradea.ro/anale/volume/2008/v3-finances-banks-accountancy/172.pdf

    Everything this Government has done to date is manufacture a crisis and then try and show a positive end to it all.

    This is the policy the National Government stole from the German pre-war era of the 1930’s to gain community support.

    This was graphically seen also last week again over the Treasury report coming out of “the blue” as this report did saying treasury has advised Government to close down Kiwirail in a year!!!

    So the cunning NatZ came out and said NO to it to look good to the voter right?

    Probably the NatZ had jacked up the treasury report via “slimmy operatives” through the Minister of Finance portfolio in the first place.

    We all should now mistrust all this hyperbole that NatZ are using to introduce phoney reports or crisis situations and then engineer to make themselves look good afterwards.

    Are they actively using their connection to the Bilderberg Club doctrine or Warner Bros movie making talents to engineer this Frank??

    Or just NSA/CIA operatives, here now and implicated in this, as we see more and more being racked up each week ahead of a poll result or TPPA agreement, or other shock announcements coming due????.

    i

  2. Kay says:

    Tolley’s comments sum up the Nat’s attitude completely.
    In the UK it’s been proven (by Coroners) that welfare “reform” has directly lead to deaths. No doubt it’s starting to become a contributing factor here.

    Sanctions + denying benefits result in deaths. This Govt will have blood on their hands if they don’t have already, but of course, that’ll be the responsibilty of the person who didn’t ask for help, won’t it?

    • Mike in Auckland says:

      Kafka and Dickens come to mind.

    • Wensleydale says:

      Here’s a list (still being compiled), of people who have died as a direct result of welfare reform in the UK, particularly among the disabled. It makes for shocking reading, and any government prepared to institute such measures purely in order to make themselves appear proactive or “tough on scroungers”, deserves to be vilified.

      http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/2014/10/21/uk-welfare-reform-deaths-updated-list-october-21st-2014/

      It’s basically state-sanctioned neglect leading to the deaths of those least able to defend themselves. If you’re poor, crippled or mentally ill in the UK, you’re fucked. They’re just waiting for you to die in your bed from starvation or hypothermia.

      Take a look New Zealand. Behold your future and be afraid. (Or just get really fucking angry. That works too.)

      • Kay says:

        I’ve been following what’s going on in the UK because of some friends there-with the same medical condition I have- caught up in it and already been subject to ATOS and (fortunately) successfully appealed, so I’ve been privy to what they’ve had to deal with.

        It’s common knowledge our lot are trying to emulate the UK system and it’s obvious given this sanction regime is a new thing here.And it’s terrifying.

  3. downwithnats says:

    A good summary of the madness one witnesses in every MSD office. Glued to their computers (probably not their choice), and only geared to look at the numbers presented by their clients. As a pensioner, my visits are disappointing enough, but for the unemployed it must be humiliating, dismissive and horrendous.
    I heap my scorn on the attitude of the Ministry. Why don’t they just label it their “final solution”?

  4. Mike in Auckland says:

    Thanks for publishing this, Frank.

    The only other “media” I heard report this was Radio NZ National.

    There was NO mention of this on the prime time news of both major broadcasters on Freeview NZ television.

    Yet again, we see how marginalised beneficiaries are in this society.

    Another one of the few voices that dare talk and write about these issues is found here:
    http://www.writehanded.org/blog/2015/07/06/winz-how-do-we-force-change/

    The state of affairs does not surprise me, as I have witnessed with my own eyes, being to WINZ some time ago, how a person just raised his voice, and had a bit of an argument with a case manager, after which security sent him out of the door, and after which a bit later police turned up, watched CTV video of it all (with the WINZ manager), interviewed the case manager, and left, probably to find the person, to trespass him.

    This is happening all the time, and more often, than abuse, assaults and so by clients, it is a case of WINZ bullying and harassment that should be taken note of. I listened to the Radio NZ news this morning, and have a listen to this
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/radionz/programmes/news-bulletin/audio/201762054/radio-new-zealand-news

    Listen from about 2 minutes and 25 seconds into the audio, about new info revealed by another OIA response from MSD!

    And here is more, from the NZ Council of Christian Social Services, on their website, about the same:
    http://nzccss.org.nz/news/2015/07/sanctions-undermine-social-investment/

    Check out also this OIA info (and read questions 5 and 10 and answers, and what follows):
    https://nzsocialjusticeblog2013.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/msd-oia-rqst-mhes-waa-other-support-services-issues-reply-anon-26-02-2015.pdf

    Here is more of interest:
    https://nzsocialjusticeblog2013.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/msd-o-i-a-reply-d-power-mhes-waa-information-complete-24-04-2014.pdf

    More useful info:
    https://nzsocialjusticeblog2013.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/mab-process-how-msd-discretely-changed-it-further-disadvantaging-clients-nzsjb-18-03-15.pdf

    https://nzsocialjusticeblog2013.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/mhes-spes-msd-withholds-o-i-a-info-that-may-prove-trials-a-failure-post-nzsjb-final-14-04-2015.pdf

    Various posts on ‘nzsocialjusticeblog2013’ cover a range of issues, with useful info found in text and via links to attached documents and sources.

    Sadly the MSM have no time for the fate of beneficiaries, they are too busy tweeting to each other about personal indulgences, about silly things, and about which politician embarrassed him- or herself with saying something they may not personally agree with.

  5. As a well informed articulate person with years of experience in paperwork, and an argument about how to treat shareholders current account credits in a family owned business we no longer worked in, and applying to be attached to my husbands superannuation while not yet 65, I was humiliated and disgusted to be treated like a beneficiary, and in the end gave up due to ill health when WINZ treated our use of that money as income and effectively taxed it again by reducing the amount of national super paid. They admitted this was a grey area and was really no different to a bank deposit, but would not worry if I used a bank deposit to supplement our living costs, only the sum of money which was accumulated profits owing to us by our company would be called income and taxed again by including it in the limit one could earn from other sources before the super payment was cut back. I gave up in disgust and it still annoys me now that I was placed in this position and felt unable to fight it. So how does someone with less ability to deal with winz get on? They fall through the cracks.

    • Mike in Auckland says:

      Maybe they have ulterior motives, and want to drive people into the hands of charities and religious organisations, such as Frank’s bit about Jesus above suggests?

      That seems to be the drive for many affected, to have the “outsourced”, to use “private providers”, for whom WINZ have no more responsibility, besides of contractual details.

      As for retired persons, I will eventually be heading into that category, and it disheartens me, to read and hear, how they even treat the elderly, after in most cases having worked and paid taxes for years, and then make them feel like being a “nuisance” and impose endless bureaucracy.

      Surely there must be a better, easier and also more cost effective system, such as for starters bringing in a “UBI” (universal basic income), that can conveniently linked to a level of similar or equal level annual basic tax free income for all.

      All they have done with their reforms is, to create ever more bureaucracy, more hurdles and harassment for people in need.

  6. wanafli says:

    Not so long ago, I, along with many others, was horrified when WINZ workers were killed at their office. Although my heart went out to the families of those slain, I couldn’t help but think that this was long overdue. There are two things worse than being a beneficiary, first, the way beneficiaries are treated in WINZ offices; second, the never-ending BS that the government tries to spread about them.
    The paperwork demanded is astounding, and defies reason. Sure, there are those who have no interest in getting off a benefit. Always have been; probably always will be. But there are many, many more who have no desire WHATSOEVER to be on a benefit, and are only there to survive. Which is what the benefit is not for. The benefit is meted out to get a minimal existence from. Anyone who says beneficiaries earn too much, do not know what they are talking about, period. Take a look at average rents in any town or city in NZ! Add food costs. The University of Otago’s School of Nutrition does an excellent annual food cost survey, which is blatently ignored by Treasury and the government. Not to mention transportation, medical costs, and so on.
    The person who pulled the trigger on those workers has been apprenhended, but the real culprits – the Government – remain at large.

  7. Helena says:

    In 2008 when National came to power National Debt was 10 billion.
    A few minutes ago it was climbing towards 99 billion.

    So trim the tree.
    Make life difficult for the unemployed, struggling beneficiaries, elderly, sick and infirm (collateral damage).
    Hit the working poor and raise GST on essentials. (Easy targets)
    Look at slowly raising interest rates to make mortgages less affordable (but not until you have vast numbers hooked into property owning) (debt will make them follow orders more easily).

    Don’t touch the top of the tree.

    NESARA … read up on it and find out all you can. Herein lies the recipe for Nations happy and healthy within and at peace with their neighbours.
    In other words all the things the money-men don’t like because there’s no profit in peace or a healthy nation.
    NESARA is just around the corner.

  8. re missing appointments at winz. in my daughter’s case she OFTEN got the letter with the appointment after the appointment. now my innocent young daughter walks home alone from a job at 1am rather than go to winz.

  9. Kay says:

    Anne Tolley on Morning Report this morning.
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/morningreport/audio/201762124/anne-tolley-defends-work-and-income
    I wish I hadn’t woke up. Or turned on the radio.

    Interestingly, I’ve only found RNZ covering this as a main story, no mention on Stuff or the Herald site, unless it’s hidden away.

  10. Rapana says:

    Could you update the copies of the WINZ forms for this article?
    We no longer have an unemployment benefit.

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