Labour’s cowardice to fix WINZ toxic culture returns to bite them in the arse as frightened NZers gridlock welfare Ministry 


Covid-19 coronavirus: Govt to bolster MSD for likely benefit numbers spike

The Government is bolstering the Ministry of Social Development to prepare it for the coming wave of new jobless New Zealanders applying for the benefit.

New Zealand’s unemployment rate is expected to increase dramatically because of the economic impacts of Covid-19.

Treasury secretary Caralee McLiesh said this week that she expected the unemployment rate to rise to between 5 per cent and “well into double digits”.

I recently pointed out in my Waatea News column that Labour’s failure to tackle the toxic culture at WINZ and MSD would become problematic once large numbers of NZers were forced to apply for welfare…

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This Government are too frightened to take on the toxic culture in WINZ and force real change so that the welfare of beneficiaries is more important than the welfare of MSD.

Labour have failed to implement 40 of the 42 recommendations the recent Welfare Expert Advisory Group put in front of them and the toxic culture legacy has seen beneficiaries waiting all day on the poorly staffed 0800 numbers often finding more pointless red tape for them to wade through to gain access to help.

WINZ is purposely built to be difficult and obtrusive to use so as to put off desperate and vulnerable people from accessing benefits. When there is a stampede of need for access, the way we are seeing with this pandemic, that purposely built difficulty of access creates vast log jams and gridlock within a system that isn’t designed to say yes in a way that alleviates stress.

If anything, WINZ is there to manufacture a sense of unease and fear.

WINZ is a neoliberal weapon used to punish, intimidate and terrify those unfortunate enough to require their assistance. It’s not built to actually help people and now it’s being required to, there is massive bottleneck from the purposely obtuse processing regime.

WINZ & MSD required an enormous cleansing of their toxic culture, now the Government need them to be kind, they don’t have that capacity.

This requires urgent oversight before the explosion of complaints start on social media.



  1. Philosophically the neoliberal welfare state presupposes the government has cut spending and is running a surplus. In reality the government is running a deficit and increasing government spending. And still the government is to gutless to do the correct things properly.

  2. I have never seen Carmel Sepuloni give a straight answer in reply when her department is caught out. They are dealing with the most vunerable people and also some of the worst and they need to be able to divide the two types not treat them all the same

  3. I have never seen Carmel Sepuloni give a straight answer in reply when her department is caught out. They are dealing with the most vunerable people and also some of the worst and they need to be able to divide the two types not treat them all the same

  4. And the lies and BS continue, beneficiaries were told they would get 25 dollars more from 1 April 2020, but the truth is, for many this will NOT happen, as the TAS or Special Benefit will be reduced in return (for only the main benefit being increased a little).

    So yet again, giving with one hand, taking it out of the hand of the beneficiary straight away again, leaving people not better off, or only marginally better off.

    Thank you BS Government.

  5. ‘WINZ is a neoliberal weapon used to punish, intimidate and terrify those unfortunate to require their assistance.’

    The disabled get treated the same as the unemployed at WINZ. Most of us are in that situation not because we want to but because we face nothing but discrimination in the workforce, we have no options. So we get punished and treated like shit by the system and discriminated against by the workforce. And then on top of that we have the ACC system where average joe bloggs gets top quality healthcare, rehabilitation and help back into employment while those of us with pre-existing conditions get nullified and have to put up with a run down public health system. I have even written to the Human Rights Commission on the level of discrimination in this country to be told they dont have a mandate for this. The whole system is designed to treat disabled people like shit in this country.

  6. MSD & WINZ have kinda scored an own goal.
    Theyve just proved that WINZ is no longer necessary. Why? Because, they’ve just proven that they can do all payments online without any major problems.

    They have also outed themselves. In 2 weeks, $5.3b has been paid out in the wage subsidies. Also they have revealed that the annual amount paid out to beneficiaries is $4.8b! Thats 315,000 people!

    So of the Welfare Budget of approximately $26b 2019/2020. $13b is Superannuation, $1.2b Accommodation Supplement, $2.2b in Student loan debt which should be on the MoE accounts. $2.2b+ in employer subsidies.
    $3.8b in the infrastructure and the Gestapo employed at WINZ & MSD.

    The best solution is to UBI it! Raise the benefit to within 95% of the minimum wage or the living wage, cancel all of the $1b of debt and then index the benefit to wages, CPI and the loss of spending power of the dollar.

    Simple. Cheaper and less hassle for all.

  7. The entire decrepit, cracked and broken WINZ system, with its unending tangled reams of red tape and its intrusive, punitive and oftentimes cruel approach to fellow humans, needs to go. Turf out the lot, burn it in huge bonfire and go here instead: UBI to fix Coronavirus Crisis

    Calls are rising all over the globe for governments to do exactly that.

    The reason? Coronavirus.

    Spain is apparently considering it: Spain may issue Permanent UBI to Fight Covid-19

    Italians are petitioning for it: If Not Now then When

    The answer is staring us all in the face.
    And to those who say, “But where is the money?”
    Well, one place it is right now is here: The Worlds Eight Richest People have grabbed most of it for themselves

    • That last article linked is 3 years old… and the situation is way WORSE….. system is working as they intended. We need to wise up… and now we may have the chance, capitalism is now broken!

  8. In the People’s Republic o Aotearoa: 1,073,129 workers out of work 914,931 employees and 158,198 sole traders have received $1.25 billion of payments on 6 April, taking the total paid out to $6.6 billion. This represents 41% of the New Zealand workforce. In total, 305,363 applications from businesses, the self-employed and sole traders have been approved. Add 315,000 beneficiaries and you’ll have an army!

  9. I had two stints on benefits some decades ago – one a few weeks between jobs and one a couple of years with wee kids. The few weeks wasn’t long enough to learn anything other than winz staff aren’t happy when they realise your shiny new job offer is more than what they’re getting. A couple of years though was a good amount of time to lean into the idea that you’re the dregs of society and not worthy nor capable of anything very much, certainly not a job. The hostile beat-em-with-a-stick approach that winz employs works the opposite to the way they think it works.

  10. And the supposed benefit increases from April 1st have once again turned out to be a sick joke with WINZ actually clawing them back by deducting from other entitlements such as Accommodation Supplement.

    • Not if you don’t get all those things..many went up 30,,mine did..but then i don’t ask for anything,I only went on late last year for the first time in my life(job held by a temp). so yeah idk how anyone would want to live like this..thank God i won;t have to for much longer.

      • Its not by choice for many. Its the capitalist model.

        If there was full employment, wages would go up and continue to rise because businesses would have to compete for workers.

        They dont want to do that do they. Hence the ‘pool’ of unemployed workers on stand-by to draw from when needed and to suppress wages and income growth.

    • The increase may only benefit those individuals in large families or flatting arrangements where all are on a benefit, and are living in overcrowded conditions, where they do not even get TAS or Special Benefit or Accommodation Supplement.

      So they get 25 bucks extra, but still live in shitty conditions.

      Those needing top ups to pay for exorbitant rents and who are living on their own or as sole parents, they are truly screwed.

  11. So 10 year old’s are part of the NZ workforce now?. Either your mathematics is worse than the average 10 year old or you would rather live in a country where 10 year old’s work. Interesting.

  12. Yes it is a reflection of the neo liberalism that comes from successive Labour and National led governments that created it in its current form.

  13. Your recent article about WINZ taking back $25.00 increase by decreasing Temporary Support is only one way. I have a debt with WINZ and my repayments increased so I to lose $25.00. I am a full time caregiver of Adult Daughter with a disability and can not even pay the basics.

    Why has the GOVT moved on decreasing rents or increasing accommodation allowance without other penalties to other entitlements? Why do the rich benefit from pandemic by a mortgage holiday but renters are made homeless? My landlord informed me he will evict me regardless of changes to Tenancy Act.

    This GOVT is not helping the vulnerable as promised at 2017 election they are the new National party of helping the rich who hate the poor on benefits. SO Labour has proven to hate the poor as well. Labour now has to be held accountable for the harm they continue to do to the most vulnerable.

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