Petty, intrusive, destructive and just plain wrong


In a few months’ time the Winter Energy Payment (WEP) will start for beneficiaries and superannuitants. Underpinning this badly-targeted policy are unexamined assumptions about living arrangements.  

Superannuitants living on their own get $450 WEP.  If they are sharing accommodation with another superannuitant, they still get $450 each, but if ‘married’ they get only a couple rate of $700. Doesn’t that assume some offensive conclusions about bedroom heating arrangements?

Older people who are flatting should be afraid, be very afraid. If Work and Income decides they are as good as ‘married’ they will not only get less WEP, they also get a significantly lower rate of NZ Super.  A recent case  You can’t be friends with anybody any more’   raises important issues of privacy and the rights of people to be treated as individuals.  In this case, two older flatmates were doing the best they could to help and support each other, she, 61 years old, suffering disability and he, 68 years old having triple bypass surgery. 

Work and Income decided they were just pretending they were only good friends and their ‘unjustifiable’ advantages of being a couple must be removed.   They were told they owed accumulated overpayments of more than $150,000, and they were lucky not to be prosecuted. Now on the much less generous married person rates they face losing their rental and need grants for food.

An appeal to the Benefits review committee was unsuccessful:  Auckland flatmates fail to overturn Work and Income ruling that they are lovers, face hefty bill of $150,000 

 ‘Evidence’ obtained in the intrusive investigation included that they had sat next to each other on a plane trip and were processed in the same lane at the airport.  Worse the investigator’s reports show they secured statements from “anonymous witnesses who testified that they had seen them coming out of the same bedroom, with the man wearing pyjamas”.  For goodness sake what century do we live in!

Now the miserable, in-house appeal process will mean more intrusion and time wasting. If as is likely, the appeal to the Social Security Appeal Authority fails, they can take it further to the High Court.  As the few brave souls before them like Kathryn have found, going through the courts will be a daunting and expensive time-wasting exercise, sadly with little chance of success.  

TDB Recommends



  1. Well I’d definitely qualify as “underclass” and I’ve found Susan St John’s articles informative and a damn sight better than mainstream media.

    • Thanks Ernie. The article on Kathryn that I linked at the end was first published by the Herald behind a paywall and never made it to the hard copy. Why was it not of interest to main stream media I wonder

  2. Yes so lets vote this year for more of the same and see nothing change. Time to take some risks on new parties if there’s a hope of pulling this country out of its neo liberal death spiral.

    Of course try telling that to mainstream party supporting die hard’s…..

  3. It’s ridiculous. Super should be given at the same rates as individuals regardless of relationship status.

    The more important question is why someone who has paid nothing into NZ super and not born in NZ can now come over and within 10 years (used to be 5 years) claim full super! It’s crazy.

    Then can even marry after 11 days on the internet, 10k later and another Chinese boomer comes to NZ to be supported on the back of their 79 year old spouse who is lonely having come to NZ able to be supported by the NZ taxpayer.

    Weird how the woke are not concerned about this rout!

    As a Gen X who had to pay a monstrous student loan with interest calculated daily, find it another betrayal how the NZ woke neoliberals are quite happy with this scenario, and while prosecuting the NZ born student loan Gen X at the airports are then quite happy to give away 1,000,000 in super payments to tens of thousands of new migrant aged parents who just got here within 10 years, get free health care without paying any taxes. Not only that, their offspring also get to get free NZ education, primary, secondary and now 1 year of free tertiary education with often just a 2 year work visa. (They don’t even need to be working and any fake job seems to be fine, aka recruitment companies bringing labourers in without any work at all) to bring over aged relatives, children, spouses – so much so that 10,000 per year of all migrants settling here have no income of all, and that has been happening for the last 15 years.

    “The number of Māori aged 65+ will more than double (from 48,500 to 109,400) between 2018 and 2034, as will the senior Pacific population (from 21,300 to 46,700), while the number of senior Asian New Zealanders will almost triple (from 59,500 to 171,900).”

    But nope, the woke seem to be more interested in keeping those routs going!

    • We was supposed to get both universalism and targeted funding because the vast majority of Māori are mainstreamed and targeted funding for the rest. At least that was the theory behind the argument. In practice well the uptake of food grants and other supplamentary benidits are way up past targeted funding that the government should have just raised benefits universally. Just the theory isn’t lining up with solution.

  4. It looks like there is already more aged Asian migrants in NZ in 2018 than Maori aged parents, 59,500 Asian pensioners vs 48,500 Maori pensioners, and somehow the government policy is to add more asian pensioners in 15 years… aka 109,400 Maori aged parents vs 171,900 Asian aged parents.

    It’s absolute craziness because they get little super and health care in their own countries and that is why they are flooding in without needing to contribute anything here financially! (Meanwhile NZ taxpayers are told pay more for Kiwisaver while their taxes are more like to support an Asian pensioner arriving recently than a Maori indigenous one!)

    Public Health care in India is poor quality and most people don’t use it…

    “The Indian public health sector encompasses 18% of total outpatient care and 44% of total inpatient care.[10] Middle and upper class individuals living in India tend to use public healthcare less than those with a lower standard of living.[11] Additionally, women and the elderly are more likely to use public services.[11] The public health care system was originally developed in order to provide a means to healthcare access regardless of socioeconomic status or caste.[12] However, reliance on public and private healthcare sectors varies significantly between states. Several reasons are cited for relying on the private rather than public sector; the main reason at the national level is poor quality of care in the public sector, with more than 57% of households pointing to this as the reason for a preference for private health care.”

    Public Health care in China is not free for urban nationals…

    “Residents of urban areas are not provided with free healthcare, and must either pay for treatment or purchase health insurance. The quality of hospitals varies. ”

    “Despite this, public health insurance generally only covers about half of medical costs, with the proportion lower for serious or chronic illnesses. Under the “Healthy China 2020″ initiative, China is currently undertaking an effort to cut healthcare costs, and the government requires that insurance will cover 70% of costs by the end of 2018”.

    Chinese pensions…

    Guess what, in China you have to CONTRIBUTE minimum 15 years to get a pension and only get 1% of the indexed wage in China for your public pension.

    In India it sounds like no free public pension and minimum 10 Years of CONTRIBUTIONS of 12% and only 12% of the work force seemed covered for pensions anyway.

    In NZ you don’t have to contribute at all to a pension as an overseas person or be working, just be resident here for 10 years (used to be 5 years) to get 43 per cent of the NZ average wage and it is not means tested for overseas pensioners either.

    “To meet the residency requirements for New Zealand Superannuation, Veteran’s Pension (New Zealand pensions) and most New Zealand benefits, generally, you must:
    be lawfully resident, and
    be present, and
    be ordinarily resident in New Zealand, and
    have spent some time living in New Zealand (a period of residence).”

    Not surprising that NZ is now the place to retire to and be supported as an overseas resident as well as the free quality health care that many have to pay for in their own countries!

    Superannuation and health care was known about as a major issue a decade ago for our lazy immigration policy. Natz encouraged it, and Labour have just bought back migrant parent entry based on woke stupidity.'-parents-cost-nz-'tens-of-millions‘

  5. Savenz. The generosity to those aged over 65 including migrants and the treatment of students and welfare recipients sit badly and as you say is barely questioned

    • My point is that people who pay taxes in NZ for lengthy periods of time (70% was the top tax rate at one point in the 1970’s) and pensioners born here should be getting the pensions and nobody else – new migrants should not qualify for NZ state pensions.

      It’s obvious that aged migrants coming to NZ in the last years of their working lives should have private pensions and health care if they are allowed in at all. I am not against Kiwi (as a broad term of anyone born in NZ and lived here the majority of their lives not necessarily of any ethnicity) pensioners getting the pensions, we all worked hard in NZ to get those pension benefits. I’m against people cutting the queue and that is unfair.

      Migrant parents who just got her in time for their sweet NZ retirement and health care, also get Gold cards and free travel without needing to pay a cent of tax in many cases and taking resources away from others. The NZ unemployed and NZ kids don’t get free travel but migrant parents do who could be as rich as crocus to boot and living in a multimillion dollar house (in another name of course so they don’t pay rest home fees)! It’s a crazy neoliberal Kafka!

      Telling Gen X, that were forced into massive student debt or paid it off at great cost, as well as paying 4% Kiwisaver for a pension (that we all know is going to run out before Gen X gets the pension which is why we have Kiwisaver) that 171,000 asian migrants and the other recent migrants in the last few years of their working lives get more benefits than those who were both born in NZ, whose parents have paid taxes all their lives, then local Gen X who paid for user pays education, now paying KiwiSaver too and taxes who will probably get a fraction of what is currently being given away…

      It is another Neoliberal betrayal that NZ’s born here including indigenous people , deserves less (aka paid their student loans and Kiwisaver) than an aged migrant who can get the pension on the basis of living in NZ with no income for 10 years and also be in line with any health issue on the NZ health system?

      Funny I have seen many pension articles advocating for more pensions for various reasons, less pensions for various reasons, but never any article actually stating how unfair migrant pensions are to the existing tax payer population, when they don’t have to contribute anything financially, can marry and bring more migrant pensioners in which is expanding the ‘pensioner’ category at alarming and unsustainable rates!

      You should have to be born in NZ and/or live here for 40 years before you qualify for a state pension, free health care and free rest home care (aka less than 25 years abroad which is pretty generous). That is fair and not discriminatory. State care should be for those living in the country most of their lives not someone dropping into NZ age 55+!

      People not born in NZ or not living here most of their lives should have to pay a private pension from taxes collected while in NZ to contribute to a Kiwisaver retirement. And they need to start change the pension rules , ASAP.

      Was at a mall a few weeks ago, there were so many migrant workers working there especially the foothill, one chain had 15 staff on (a few years ago it would be 5), and outside there were 2 very worn out looking middle aged Maori accosting cars with signs “need a job”… That is the state of NZ!

      How can the NZ economy continue with our social welfare on the basis of massive low wage job growth, which seem more like ponzies to get residency and bring relatives over (yippee and extra $633 per week per set of parents x2 for a couple bring both parents over is $1266 p/w ) and the working for families, accomodation benefits, free health and education for all on the back of a Pac N Sav supermarket job or subway manager… no wonder NZ immigration has their phones ringing off the hooks!!

      • BTW – Supermarket profits and business is booming in NZ!

        And don’t worry there is no pressure to increase wages this union got an offer of a 0% pay rise!

        “A Glen Innes Pak’nSave owner, worth an estimated $65m, was paying one of the lowest rates as far as collective agreements go in Auckland supermarkets, FIRST Union’s Mandeep Bela said.

        The union is in the process of bargaining at Hastings Pak’nSave where workers recently resorted to strike action. At mediation, the owner offered a 0 per cent pay rise for the 2018 year, Bela said.

        Bela said inequality was a problem for New Zealand and “enough is enough”.

        “When we have supermarket owners banking some of the largest profits while paying staff some of the lowest wages in the country it just doesn’t make sense. How have we got to this?”

        The question is, how have we got to this???

        How is NZ able to afford to top up low wage business where owners workers get generous benefits on the basis of low wage jobs topped up by the state, and jobseeker now increasing 11%

        Discrimination is rife because nobody needs to employ older people in NZ. They just make them redundant and employ people on lower wages in many cases. Plenty of evidence of migrant jobs that are not being paid the minimum wages and nothing happens to those doing it apart from they get to expand their businesses in NZ with the profits.

        Ageism alive in the workforce

        it’s a massive whammy for locals, big debts, no jobs in the last 10 – 20 years, lower wages and poorer conditions, and no sign that in 10 -20 years there will be sustainable pension benefits as we know them today for the locals.

        (Also locals don’t necessarily put their houses into trusts and do tax realignment so that the ‘family home’ inheritance, gets eaten up by rest home fees going to the offshore pension funds who own them like Rymans)!

  6. Well it is an election year. Make noise!

    Threaten Carmel Suckapoloni job as the head of MSD.

    The 4% unemployment figure touted recently is ackshulky 6.9%.
    Jobseekers numbers went up by 10,000 in the quarter and the total number of beneficiary recipients is at 314,000. The highest in 5 years.

    Enough of the ‘wringing’ of the hands! Time to give the middle class white party a hiding.

  7. Small wonder the government is angling for ways to cut/target/steer etc to reduce the cost on the countries books. Where is the MSM on this issue? VERY QUIET.

  8. So much of the once adequate, no blame and shame “Social Security” system that neo liberalism savaged from 1984, needs a major overhaul or retiring for good. The 1964 Act comes from a time almost unrecognisable to todays society of blended families, one parent families, gay and defacto couples, precarious employment, and transient addresses.

    Any state payments should be “unique to holder” regardless of relationships, living arrangements or otherwise.

    The problem is most recent and current Parliamentary politicians bar Sue Bradford, Metiria Turei and Marama Davidson will not touch fair treatment of beneficiaries with the proverbial 40 foot pole. Middle class welfare–WFF, Accomodation supplement, no capital gains and Universal Superannuation–no problem however. And as the Retirement Commissioner has pointed out, aged poverty is the new poverty trap needing a massive state house/apartment build to address, as low income people need also. Essentially the state sanctioned Beneficiary Bashing of “dob in a bludger” TV ads in the 90s began an othering of beneficiaries that has only worsened over time and locked politicians into the meme for what they imagine are “decent Nu Zilundas” votes. It will take similar intervention, leading from the top to “undemonise” these NZ citizens needing assistance generally for factors outside their immediate control, to turn that around–and cleaning out the top echelon at WINZ/MSD, and urgently implementing the Working Group recommendations.

  9. I hadn’t realised how unfair the pension system is with the disparity between migrant pensioners and the rest of us. Maori appear to be the biggest have-nots. The suggestions for fixing the allocation of pensions would mean a fairer system so the NZ born would not be penalised, while migrants who arrive at pension age would not automatically benefit from the NZ pension fund.

    Snooping around to find out who sleeps where, to decide whether you get a married or single pension, is ridiculous! My husband and I sleep in different bedrooms because my MS means a weak bladder and constant interruptions of sleep for a sleeping partner. So how to calculate our pensions? We are friends but don’t benefit from separate bedrooms because we are married. Somehow I don’t think our sleeping arrangements would provide a good case to appeal for single pensions. Instead, the pension system should smarten up and abolish ‘married’ or ‘single’ categories. If that means snooper jobs are lost, then redeploy the staff into productive jobs. It would be a good move for Winz staff to stop working against ‘beneficiaries’ and support them instead,

  10. Poverty is the acceptable face of the current economic system.

    Until we re think our entire approach it will not change and greed , wealth and individualism which are the cornerstones of the current market economics model will continue too create desperately poor and marginalised victims.

    If the middle class are hurting then the pressure will ramp up but they are doing fine with their lifestyles being funded by the big banks and easy credit with high interest.

    These stats which are rolled out every year will soon be forgotten about after the usual hand wringing and uncomfortable questions at the post cabinet press conference where the MSM hope too get one over on Adern but couldn’t care less about those who are existing in those undesirable parts of town.

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