WINZ & MSD are so malicious and cruel they are handing decision making over to computers

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Wellington Bureaucrats worship their new Big Data Fascism, Orac

There are two ways to look at this new announcement by the Wellington Bureaucracy…

Covid 19 coronavirus: Govt prepares for hundreds of thousands of new benefit applications

Leaked documents show the Ministry of Social Development preparing for an extra 300,000 benefit applications, in response to an expected tidal wave of unemployment created by the Covid-19 pandemic.

RNZ has received documents and emails which show the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) bracing for a massive increase in welfare applications.

One of the documents outlines the welfare agency’s approach to managing increased demand. “MSD is preparing for an increase of approximately 300,000 applications for benefits. This is primarily due to job loss from Covid-19.”

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Another document has a chart showing a big spike in benefit applications from March 22 and examines how MSD can process the increased demand for the applications.

“How can we meet increased demand for jobseeker benefits from the end of May to ensure our clients that need it get paid quickly and without a negative customer experience,” it asks.

The documents suggest that one way of managing the increased processing load could be by using automated decision making.

The document says MSD is seeking to use new legislation to “lawfully begin Automated Decision Making of some types of benefit applications”.

The document says that Cabinet approval for this has been sought and legislation permitting it could be in place by May 15.

“So MSD could begin making lawful automated decisions from 16 May,” the document says.

…the first is positive.

The Government acknowledges the toxic culture within WINZ and its purposely built convoluted processes which are there to defeat vulnerable people and scare them off from applying for welfare are so bad that an automated process that removes decision making from the hands of petty WINZ staff sadists who gleefully treat beneficiaries poorly will be a better means of processing the tsunami of unemployment about to hit.

O-r-r-r-r-r.

You could take the negative perspective that this is a dreadful step to use big data to make social policy decisions…

We see time and time again that discretion seems to be abused by Wellington Bureaucrats so trying to limit that to remove the bigotry and bias that make WINZ and MSD such toxic cultures might seem like a great idea, the problem is that life never fits squarely into the box ticking process so we hope public servants are trained well enough to recognise injustice rather than cause it.

So the temptation to allow AI to take over is great, but what if the AI is merely empowering the bigotry of bias rather than defeating it?

Oranga Tamariki is big data powered, tick enough boxes with the Wellington Orac and you are guilty of future crimes and can have your child removed.

…let’s see what happens on this front because the desire to limit staff employment and employ AI to this process has benefits and terrifying negatives.

Biased staff burnt out by the unending misery they see is one thing, a program that ruthlessly implements that bias is another.

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27 COMMENTS

  1. How many pages per application is that? What are we looking at here 15 applications per case officer per day. Fucken good luck with that. We are so so inefficient and wasteful, in all areas.

  2. To give an idea of what a mess WINZ is; a friend of mine has a son who needed to go on a benefit recently but was getting the run around from WINZ. He asked the National MP David Bennett for help. Bennett followed up and next day WINZ processed the application and apologised for their ‘mistake’.

    What is the world we now live in???

  3. With over 1 million wage subsidy applications done online within a few short weeks … Abolish WINZ/MSD and go electronic, online apps. They have just proved that it can be done.

    • Oh bullocks!
      They computerize these things so that they can actually get the applications processed.
      But hey, never let reality get in the way of your paranoia.
      WINZ and MSD are horrible enough without making shit up and when you do that you damage your credibility.

      • So how did they payout $10b to the applicants then? By having them go into the office?? FFS! Arrrh no. It was all done on line shit for brains.

  4. By now MSD/WINZ/MBIE have an Algorithm attached to everyone with an IRD #. It’s part of the 5-Eyes surveillance program that has been active since mid 2014. This is nothing new, it’s been going on for years already! That’s why Key, The Cabinet Club & Bennett changed the rules around GCSB spying on NZ Citizens and Permanent Residents at the same time the Kim Dot Com debacle happened to hide the plan. It allows them to capture all your personal Data on one big fat Big Brother system and assign every applicant with their own personal algorithm that they use to decrease the amount of the Benefit entitlements, to meet their return on investment figures now that they are basically Corporatised and have Public / Private partnerships tapping the system for profits at Tax Payer & Beneficiaries expense. MSD have updated their entire data bases every year since 2012 and the results have been disastrous for everyone that have gone near them for help. “We’re here to Help”, Yea Right…
    WINZ has turned the Benefit program into a Loan company skam and have managed to stitch up beneficiaries for $$thousands of Dollars worth of hardship loans instead of entitlements or grants for emergency needs.
    Welcome to the Meritocratic Market where Beneficiaries pay for the entitlement help they get and the top heavy bureaucracy take their cut off the top of the funding pile before it even hits the street where it’s needed most… A Ponzi scheme that would make Bernie Madoff blush…

  5. If we had a universal basic income of tax-free $423 a week for everyone over 18, and half that for everyone under 18, we’d be close to abolishing WINZ/MSD. Not quite: there’d still be accommodation allowances needed, and NZ Super for people travelling or retired overseas; but close. Raising the tax to pay for it is the hurdle.

    • So a couple well $846 dollars tax free. Phew you’re really keen eh. I’m left wing but that’s just to much free money for one family. At $250p/w per adult you’re incentivising people hook up and stay in long lasting relationships.

      • I’m not sure it’s the business of the state to engineer people into “hooking up” by under-paying them.

        • The government has been engaging in social engineering via intitlement adjustments for years it’s only just now the middle classes are finding out the error of those ways.

    • The tax for that is very easy .
      40% tax for over $250,000
      Abolish Gst and bring in 2% FTT tax as social credit suggests on every transaction within the country and anything leaving the country.
      Just on 1% ftt a day on money coming into and out of then country bin 2014 would have raised $65 million a day.

      • I think the tax would have to be 50 per cent from the first and every dollar, not from $250,000. Somebody on $20 an hour would be starting $423 ahead for the week, so $10 an hour in the hand and $10 to the Government to pay for schools and hospitals and the rest shouldn’t be too taxing.

        • No 50% wouldn’t be needed the FTT tax would be needed and that $423 is what we have all been robbed of over the last 35 years in this low wage minimum wage increase economy we have been living in. The individualisation of pensions and benefits etc has to come . Because a large chunk of people in a relationship of any sort do not get a damn cent from winz msd. Not only that we have people in relationships with long term illnesses that cant even afford to pay for medicines let alone buy food or pay rent or bills because they have been denied access to any benefit of any sort.

  6. Well then now is the time to start UBI. The person making the application gets something almost straight away, enough for a week, as the computer churns out the lists by region. Then the workers contact the people and find get more info, invite them to do a three-day polytechnic course in general life management and give them a map for the op shops. Whoa – will they be released from the durance vileish situation yet?

    If Depts use computers as a registration tool with proper overview by people trained in dealing with those in difficulty, then that could be good. If decisions are left to computers, then the Dept is a tool!

  7. It’s funny how it’s 65 pages to get the unemployment benefit and takes weeks of stand down, but the wages subsidy required pretty much nothing and was almost instant. I guess business is more important than people. The people that make the business, like widgets are not important and can be accessed around the world as cheaply as possible.

      • Jays, you are the Moran, the wage subsidy went to the employers bank accounts and they were supposed to pay their employees with it. But it turns out many didn’t need it, some of the employees were not even working there, they claimed the wage subsidy that was more than their wages and some of the biggest payouts were to billionaire businesses.

        But hey, prop up neoliberalism working in NZ, taking from the poor to give to the rich to trickle down to the poor.

        Over 10 billion paid out so far from NZ taxes and future debt, for 12 weeks of wage top ups!

        • Oh for fuck sake, imbecile!
          The subsidy is a WAGE subsidy and the vast majority of employers passed it on as they should have.
          It was paid directly to employers because the administration required to pay directly to employees would have overloaded the system leaving many without income for weeks.

          Are you being deliberately obtuse or are you naturally retarded.

          • vast majority of employers passed it on… how do you know this Jays?

            crystal ball… your own stupidity… maybe you believe you have superpowers beyond your ability, in which case you should join the government with your thinking that individuals can’t be trusted, but business owners can.

            Why don’t you enlighten us with MBIE statistics there, because nobody knows how many employers paid it correctly and won’t for a long time, if at all, and the dob line is ringing hot.

  8. Sentiments aside, within say 2-3 years all off WINZ job roles will be covered by algorithms.
    You only need to look at the GCSB, IRD and MSD initiatives being, or that have been, put in place over the last 12 years.
    Now that could be a good thing or a bad thing, but you need to focus on what the criteria or algorithms determine, not the demise of the human (or inhumane) faces of WINZ.
    AI is here and so is big data so get used to framing your arguments around that, and not some distraction of more job losses.
    Which are going to happen, like it or not.

    • SOB, The Algorithm system has been in place for Beneficiaries since 2014. It was completed just Prior to February once the “New” system had been installed and WINZ / MSD Staff were VERY superficially trained. The object of the change-over was to close off access to Walk-in Services and force all Beneficiaries to apply for any new benefits online to supposedly reduce the amount of paperwork (System Screen Time) A letter was sent out to all beneficiaries that they needed to make an online appt. to be eligible to enter a WINZ / MSD / Senior Services Office. I have the entire paper trail back to 2011 from having applied for and granted a Supportive Living Benefit after going thru the whole series of hoops and fire rings in the multiphase process. I jumped thru all the hoops to prove need and when I completed and turned in my application it took 9 more months before the Benefit was actually paid. I had to go thru a review in a private meeting with a Branch Manager who was NOT HAPPY to be questioned. I paid dearly for upsetting her empiracal applecart, ongoing to today. The only Male case manager in the office was who suggested I apply and he was later released and possibly sacked, he disappeared literally over-night after the private, undocumented meeting with the Manager..
      From 2012 – 2015 the WINZ System Software was updated every 3 months, which interrupted everyone’s benefits and forced people to have to go into WINZ offices all over the country for help getting their regular benefit sorted & properly paid out. The system is and has been a nightmare for every applicant, especially for MEN, since Paula Bennett took over the portfolio. I would strongly suggest anyone with Sado-Masochistic tendencies should apply, as you’ll have a great deal in common with Case Managers & Branch Managers there “To Help You”…

      • Ok, I guess you just reinforce my comment, which predicts all WINZ job roles will be taken over by AI.
        There will be no review as you were “fortunate” enough to receive.
        The point I should have made is we need a UBI so this BS disappears, along with the dragons and rottweilers at the counter.

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