Waatea News Column: MSD are building debt coffins and creating debt slaves


The statistics are grim.

Beneficiaries owe MSD over $2billion in debt.

461,000 Kiwis are struggling with MSD debt, on average owing $3500 each.

Much of that is money owed thanks to MSDs relationship trap and from money loaned out to help desperate people face the cost of living crisis.

The idea that our largest welfare agency should hold almost half a million Kiwis in debt is a disgrace.

Welfare policy is creating debt slaves who will die in debt coffins.

We should not use relationships as a means to entrap beneficiaries, we should not loan the desperate money, we should cover those costs by the state when the need arises.

To hold 461 000 beneficiaries in debt while so many are hurting economically is disgraceful social policy that is leading to lives trapped by arrears they can never pay back!

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This is counterproductive and punishment focused welfare from an agency that delights in being as difficult as possible to contact. Their obtuse service protocols are aimed to make the process of interacting with them hard so beneficiaries are forced off welfare or get caught out breaking some ill defined rule MSD has.

This is not a welfare agency with heart or values, it is a stick used to frighten the vulnerable into not asking for help in the first place.

We need a radical rethink of welfare and the first place to start is dumping beneficiary debt.

First published on Waatea News.


  1. And we have had 5.5 years of Labour to do that and nothing got done. Remind me again what the point is in having labour taking up space?

    • My sentiments exactly.
      I had hopes Labour would fix everything after 9 years of National treating everybody so poorly.
      All they seem to have done though is a review with 24 recommendations they have pretty much just sat on and done nothing.
      Now they made the MSD minister deputy PM sealed the deal never to vote Labour again.
      Party of do nothing.

      • No Comment. Yes, Ardern smiled kindly when confirming that she was creating a two-tier society and Mallard laughed his head off about his atrocious antics.

      • Natzo/ACT are also likely to cut benefits, cut public services, cut health, cut education, … and cut taxes, especially for those earning over 150K – which is sure to help most kiwis … yeah right!

        Natzo/ACT to political party for less – which of course is less than nothing aye.

    • I can see why you wear thr “reactionary” tag so easily.. All reaction, no consideration… There is a saying that has been an irrefutable reality for as long as humanity has existed as we know it.. “it is easier to break than to make”.. As in, any fool can break something, and it can be accomplished quickly.. To rebuild what was broken takes intelligence, and patience, as mistakes made at the outset are difficult and complicated to fix, and the longer it takes to start the process makes it more difficult at a compounding rate..
      So we have tory party governments who, for the last 80 years, who exist to destroy all the nation building efforts of the “dirty communists” in the Savage government… They have succeeded on the backs of the most self serving, bigoted, and ignorant attitudes it is possible to be, coming from the privileged children of the colonial power structure, who willingly sacrificed the “plebian” hordes for the sake of their own profit…. The skin around your forelock must be well calloused now from being yanked at so hard for so long, without a single useful thought along the way…

      • Since the early 2000 we have had 2 Labour governments – Helen Clark 1999 – 2008, and Jacinda Ardern/ Chippie 2017 – ongoing. That is about 14 years out of 23. Advantage Labour.
        This fact of longer labour governments should take away any excuse they have to not have reformed WINZ. To boot, Labour had what any party can only dream of in an MMP environment, a full ant total majority allowing them to govern without ever needing support from the opposition benches. And They Did Nothing.

        The idea that Labour is less atrocious then National is mute, as both sides do the same things over and over again. And one of the things they do is settle beneficiaries – people who have no money to begin with – with debts for things such as dental care, much needed furniture and any other reason one might need to apply for an emergency benefit. Which makes Winz – be it under an N or L government – the country largest Pay Day Lender, sanctioned and signed of currently by a Labour Government, soon to be sanctioned and signed of by a National government.

        My point being, both Labour and National equally have no fecks to give about the poor.

  2. So, what’s your alternative?

    Have MSD refuse to issue loans?
    Have MSD dock welfare money on a regular basis from benefits so that the debt is serviced?
    Debt forgiveness? In which case it wouldn’t be a loan, it would be a gift.

    Most of MSDs ‘clients’ are totally feckless and sadly must be treated as such. This is the end game of open-ended welfare. It’s like feeding stray cats without first neutering them.

    • “Most of MSDs ‘clients’ are totally feckless and sadly must be treated as such”.. Your utterly mindless, and bigoted “mindset” is now out there for all to see.. How brave you are to be showing your total ignorance, and shallow intellect to the world so openly..
      Unfortunately, you have at least a couple of million total morons ahead of you, so you must try harder to display even more utterly moronic drivel if you wish to have credibility within the great circle of stupid that makes up the vast majority of what passes for ” intelligent debate”… These displays of rank childishness is why me, and hundreds of thousands of “ex Kiwis” are happily making actual lives in other parts of the world..
      Realism?… Not in Godzone aye brothers…. That would mean things the average bloke/blokess wouldn’t understand and therefore fear…. Much better to just kill it before it exposes you to the truth….

    • Yes that is exactly the alternative an MSD debt jubilee. The $2billion has already been collected as taxes and circulated back out into the economy for groceries and washing machines. Just expunge it from the government books and remove some financial stress from 450,000 kiwis during a cost of living crisis. In business speak it would just be an extra-ordinary write down.

    • Andrew The IRD will sometimes write off debts. Does this mean that their clients are feckless? Of course not. It means that the IRD are realists, unlike you and the MSD.

  3. What gets me is we’re hearing from economists that the low unemployment numbers is one of the reasons why inflation is so high.
    Then you have National harping on wanting to get more people off benefits.
    It sounds realistic that a certain proportion of the population must remain unemployed to control inflation, its a no brainer really.
    So why do they continue to be treated so poorly?

    • @Mark
      Low unemployment and wage increases are only a small contribution to inflation.

      Supply line disruption, corporate price gouging, impact of lockdowns, the large and capital rich boomer generation retiring and liquidating investments, Ukraine war, late-stage neoliberalism etc are far bigger contributors.

      However it’s much easier to blame it all on the little people being too employed or too well paid.

  4. None of the major parties will wipe MSD debt just yet due to the ingrained “war on the poor” that has existed since the 80s and 90s. Remember what happened to Green leader Metiria when she dared to describe her real life situation regarding being a beneficiary so the average dirty Bennie is not likely to get much sympathy from the dark kiwis are they?

    A strong political campaign will be required to wipe this debt which is so pathetic at the human level–food, medical, dental, washing machine repairs, emergency accomodation. All of which scream that benefit levels are too low, not enough state housing, GST off fresh food, and free healthcare is needed.

    The Govt. could easily wipe the 2 Bill given that it has already been spent, doesn’t need a loan or taxation changes.

    • ” None of the major parties will wipe MSD debt just yet due to the ingrained “war on the poor” that has existed since the 80s and 90s. Remember what happened to Green leader Metiria when she dared to describe her real life situation regarding being a beneficiary so the average dirty Bennie is not likely to get much sympathy from the dark kiwis are they? ”

      Totally agree T.M

  5. ” Much of that is money owed thanks to MSDs relationship trap and from money loaned out to help desperate people face the cost of living crisis ”

    ” The idea that our largest welfare agency should hold almost half a million Kiwis in debt is a disgrace ”

    Memo to self ( Chipkins and Carmel ) add this to the bread and butter list.

  6. But surely this Ministry is being run well and meeting it’s aims to help the down trodden because otherwise why was it’s Minister made Deputy Prime Minister?

  7. Ms Sepuloni is a classic case of promotion beyond ability–and to tick NZ Labour boxes. She did not have the political understanding or ability to say no to her MSD officials. The WEAG report handed to her on a plate what needed to be done for beneficiaries, initially at least. But she could not go there.

    A big mistake, but hey if the Natzos/ACT obtain office wait till you see incel king Seymour in action as Finance Minister! Beneficiaries will be even worse off.

    • and that too then will be the fault of Labour to some extend. They could have at least reformed Winz, they did not. They could have wiped some / all of the debt owed by beneficiaries, they did not.
      At some stage those that are pro Labour need to pull their heads out of the sand and understand that National only does what Labour is to afraid of, and that Labour is quite happy to leave the country under the rules National – with the help of Labour – created.
      That is why we house people in rundown motels. That is why we don’t actually care if kids go to school. That is why we have hunger and disease rampant in our country. That is why our roads, hospitals, schools crumble.
      Because the rot is bipartisan. Labour is no more your friend then National, but Labour will smear lipstick all over their face to hide their piggish side, while National will make a virtue out of their piggish side. Losers? Anyone not them. Anyone not serving them. Anyone who still has a job to pay for the excesses of these truly useless parties.

  8. 461,000 Kiwi …. So is that about 18% of NZ’ders are indebted to MSD?
    27,000+ homeless living in motels racking up debt every week?
    220,000 kids living in poverty still? And so on, and so on.
    Massive inflation at 7.5% and climbing.
    Rents going up by 25%
    Real unemployment at 11.2%
    And on top of all of this. The fascist are in control of the asylum.

    Why would you re-elect LINO again?

  9. Managing these debts is a waste of money and those civil servants responsible for continuing to maintain this system presumably for empire-building reasons should be fired (as well as the ratf**kers in government who haven’t done anything about it).

    • It would seem to be false accounting to carry this much debt as an asset in the national accounts if the debt can’t be paid; but if they wrote it off in fiscal 24 it would leave a hole in their “balanced” budget. There is only about a week to go before the end of fiscal 23 so they better act quickly in writing it off if they wish to start the new financial year with a clean slate.

  10. what’s needed is something akin to the current aussie robodept enquiry it’s a different issue but shows the deeply corrupt(liars) nature of modern buraucracy can we be sure ours are of a higher standard?

    as for economists blather they are priests of a theology not scientists

  11. Remember when a lady from the Hutt Valley committed suicide because of an alleged WINZ debt ? I do.

    Then it transpired that she had no debt at all, and it was another cock- up, just like they tried to do to Winston Peters.

    Peter’s survived ok, his was a piddling amount, certainly not worth mouse- minded politicians gabbling about on their Christmas holidays down in Queenstown. The diseased’s amount was considerably bigger. The stress must have been very clobbering for a lady with limited resources, and she killed herself. She, poor woman, and Mr Peters may not be the only people this has happened to.

  12. Many have had debt and paid it back so what message would they get if the debt was wiped for slow payers .I was annoyed in CHCH after the earthquake when those with no insurance demanded a pay out for they lost homes . On another level I was annoyed at all those antivaxers who benefited from the majority of us getting vaccinated. If you want to have the benefit of a supportive community then we all need to play our part or suffer the concequences.

    • ” If you want to have the benefit of a supportive community then we all need to play our part or suffer the concequences.”

      And that would be a society/economy structured to ensure everyone had a job so they weren’t on unemployment ben and racking up debt from the lender of last resort. Rather than one where some people’s misery is a tool to maintain the value of the wealthier’s wealth.

  13. Thanks Martyn we must find ways to shame and discomfort these arrogant ba….s and shi..y wi….min who carry forward this diseased attitude (worse than Covid) about anyone who fails the limbo line test, or can’t manage to raise themselves out of the mire that it is so easy to fall into in the laissezfaire society.

    This message is not new so here are some ‘concrete’ examples about being in the mire. Perhaps this will get through to internet and television watchers who need pictograms to get knowledge. Don’t know about those who have not found it makes them queasy watching ‘reality shows’ where the group dispenses swift justice on the hapless who are excluded, frozen out on a quick whim.

    Bogs – real things but very like the cultural traps this country has manufactured for hapless citizens to turn them into helpless.l
    How do I get out of quicksand alone?
    Quick Tips
    Make yourself as light as possible—toss your bag, jacket, and shoes.
    Try to take a few steps backwards.
    Keep your arms up and out of the quicksand.
    Try to reach for a branch or person’s hand to pull yourself out.
    Take deep breaths.
    Move slowly and deliberately.
    How To Get Out Of Quicksand: Where It’s Found & How To Escape
    eaglecreek.com https://www.eaglecreek.com › blogs › article
    (Notice how it is made easier by having someone’s hand to help.)

    Getting stuck – it’s hard to get out.
    The reason is that although quicksand doesn’t continue to pull you right under, if you can’t get free in time, a high tide can sweep across you. This is really when quicksand can be dangerous.
    So struggling alone won’t drown you, but we do still need to be wary. If you want to free yourself without waiting for rescue or for the sand to liquefy again, then Bonn’s research showed that just to release one foot, you would need to provide a force of 100,000 newtons – the equivalent of the strength to lift a medium-sized car…

    Dry quicksand, however, is another matter entirely. The quicksand effect means that falling into a silo full of grain can often be fatal.
    To survive a fall into dry quicksand, you need outside help as quickly as possible
    In 2002 a case report was published telling the tale of a man who fell into a grain store late one evening on a farm in Germany. By the time the firefighters were able to establish which of eight tanks he was in, the grain was up to his armpits and acting according to the classic idea of quicksand, was dragging him down. Each time he exhaled, the volume of his chest reduced, causing grain to rush to fill the gap and making it progressively harder for him to breathe.
    A doctor was lowered down on a rope to give him oxygen and a harness was placed around the man’s chest. But soon he was experiencing agonising chest pain and the doctor developed an asthma attack brought on by the dust. The firefighters did come up with a clever solution, though. They lowered a cylinder over the man’s body. Then as they sucked the grain out with an industrial vacuum, the grain couldn’t fall more tightly around him, and he survived.

    To survive a fall into dry quicksand, you need outside help as quickly as possible, but what if you find yourself in some wet quicksand, not drowning, but stuck? You need to wiggle your leg a little in order to introduce water to the sand around your feet to liquefy the sand again. The idea is to stay calm (which might be easier said than done), lean back and spread out to spread your weight more evenly and wait until you float back up to the surface. And don’t forget your hat. (Sense of humour optional extra!)


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