Auckland Action Against Poverty has successfully challenged Work and Income’s actions where people are refused the opportunity to ask for assistance.
“It is no longer okay for Work and Income staff to tell people to go away without having the chance to apply for the help they need. The law requires every claim to be investigated.” says AAAP spokesperson Alastair Russell.
“There is a long history of gatekeeping by Work and Income, where reception staff with the full backing of managers and successive governments, keep the gate closed, refusing access to case managers.”
“Turning people away from a Work and Income office is now the same as declining a benefit application,” says Mr Russell.
“All over New Zealand people are illegally turned away from Work and Income offices. This is a major feature of the toxic culture of benefit denial within Work and Income.”
“We know this is a major issue in smaller towns throughout New Zealand. Managers in Work and Income offices in Auckland have been shown the Appeal Authority decision and refuse to change their actions.”
“We have taken a case to the Social Security Appeal Authority where a woman was refused the right to apply for a Food Grant at Manurewa Work and Income. In March 2017 Manurewa Work and Income staff told people not from Manurewa they would not be seen there. They were told to go back to their usual office.”
The Appeal Authority has now released its decision. It is “concerned that the Chief Executive (of the Ministry of Social Development) and the Ministry staff have ignored the authorities which establish their duty to assist those seeking assistance under the Act.’
“Work and Income had an obligation to consider her application for a Food Grant. It has an obligation to consider all applications. It has an obligation to change its toxic culture.”
“AAAP would welcome an opportunity to work with the Minister and ministry officials to identify and implement the necessary operational changes.”