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New Lynn Impact against poverty – action

Written By: - Date published: 4:47 pm, September 9th, 2013 - 8 comments
Categories: activism, benefits, class war, democratic participation, jobs, poverty, unemployment - Tags: ,

Last December I reported on the Auckland Action Against Poverty, Advocacy Activism in Onehunga.

I concluded:

Positive, practical, well-planned, collaborative, good humoured, friendly, inclusive, community-centred action.  I like it.

There’s another one happening this week in New Lynn – starts tomorrow at 9am outside the WINZ office. AAAP’s press release says:

Following on from our first beneficiary ‘Impact’ last December, we will be hosting our second event:
9am – 4.30pm Tuesday 10 – Wednesday 11 – Thursday 12 September 2013
Work & Income office 5/9 Hugh Brown Drive, New Lynn.

“During this three day period AAAP, in conjunction with advocates from around the North Island, will provide one-on-one advocacy to beneficiaries, unemployed people and low wage workers who may need assistance with Work and Income issues.

“Anyone who seeks our support with Work and Income is welcome at next week’s ‘Impact,’ without an appointment. Advocates on duty will do our best to help everyone who turns up, with the assistance of a number of extra staff whom MSD has put on especially for the occasion.

“As a result of Paula Bennett’s welfare reforms, beneficiaries need advocacy support more than ever. All too often people have been refused legitimate assistance, with benefits being cut left, right and centre.

I hope AAAP keeps up the good work. A great grass roots practical initiative.

[Update:] Press release from AAAP. Tales of despair: from the streets of New Lynn. Inludes the following and more at the link:

“In the last few days we have worked with many families who are living
with constant hunger and cold, and who are having to wash all their
clothes by hand in the middle of winter.

“We’ve helped people who are seriously ill but still hounded to find
work as a ‘Job Seeker’ rather than being paid the Supported Living
Allowance they are entitled to.

“We are finding many who have been turned down for Work and Income
assistance to which they are entitled, or who are on the wrong
benefits, meaning they are trying to survive on even less money than
an already minimal welfare system allows them.

“If our experience in New Lynn this week is anything to go by,
thousands of New Zealanders of all ages are having an already marginal
existence made even tougher because of Paula Bennett’s welfare
policies and departmental inadequacies.

“On top of that, Government housing policies which have severely
reduced access to state housing mean many beneficiaries are simply
unable to find or afford decent accommodation and are living in damp,
overcrowded and filthy conditions.

8 comments on “New Lynn Impact against poverty – action”

  1. miravox 1

    In another instance of bashing the poor, from the UK (and where the UK goes on policy for the poor, NZ seems to follow).

    With no reference to a vastly more casualised workforce since the GFC and cynical use of zero hours contracts, especially the ones that don’t allow for the acceptance of concurrent contracts, the Department of Work and Pensions is planning on calling in low income workers to berate them for not working enough.

    One million of Britain’s lowest paid employees will be classed as “not working enough” and could find themselves pushed with the threat of sanctions to find more income under radical changes to benefits, the Department for Work and Pensions has said.

    DWP internal documents seen by the Guardian reveal that people earning between £330 and around £950 a month – just under the rate of the national minimum wage for a 35-hour week – could be mandated to attend jobcentre meetings where their working habits will be examined as part of the universal credit programme.

    Some of those deemed to be “not working enough” could also be instructed to take on extra training – and if they fail to complete tasks they could be stripped of their UC benefits in a move which departmental insiders conceded is controversial.

    Anyone who thinks the war on the poor is simply a war on wastrel beneficiaries (of whom they are not) should really be rethinking things.

  2. xtasy 2

    Good work by AAAP, I must say, and I hope that by helping affected beneficiaries they will also send home the message to Paula Bennett and her Ministry, naturally also this despicable, mean spirited government we have, that enough is enough.

    Sadly beneficiaries are treated with contempt by too many, and have been turned into the scape goat for so much, including hungry kids going to school and for child abuse. Moral lectures though are not what is primarily needed.

    A universal guaranteed minimum income with top ups for particular needs would be a start, and thus a basic income everybody can live off. Instead we get stigmatisation, blaming, punishment and even forcing sick and disabled to make efforts to find work on a tight job market.

    At least in the UK there has been – and is – much debate. I wish we would have more of that here. What must also be noted is the fact, that funds for budgeting and support services (often run by advocates) have over recent years been capped or even cut. So while AAAP can somehow still find resources to pull this IMPACT off, many other services are struggling to cope, or even had to let staff go, like Mangere Budgeting Services.

    We know where the ideas and supposed “evidence” for these welfare reforms come from, and reading the following should enlighten those in doubt:

    http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/2013/08/28/unums-unaccepatable-influence-in-the-formulation-of-uk-dwp-atos-disability-assessment-regime-letter-to-president-of-the-faculty-of-occupational-medicine-royal-college-of-physicians/

    http://humanrightspoliticanjournal.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/dwpunumatos-scandal-welfare-reform-redress-for-disabled-people-report-by-mo-stewart-wraf-rtd/

    A professor Mansel Aylward and his connections to a fraudulent US insurance corporation are something the NZ media should start to bloody well look at and report on! Aylward was a senior advisor to the NZ government on how to put together and how to implement welfare reforms.

    Also one should consider how the government tends to follow ideological tendencies when forming policies and legal drafts, rather than empirical scientific evidence. Read for instance a recent report by Professor Peter Gluckman, which is rather damning on this:

    http://sciblogs.co.nz/griffins-gadgets/2013/09/03/gluckmans-audit-finds-patchy-use-of-evidence-in-government/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciblogsnz+%28SciBlogs.co.nz%29

    Gluckman’s report in PDF file format:
    http://www.pmcsa.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/The-role-of-evidence-in-policy-formation-and-implementation-report.pdf

    “Worryingly, some officials had limited understanding of the scientific process of knowledge production, or were uncertain about it. In addition, they were not clear on how research-based evidence could be used to support policy processes,” Gluckman writes in his report.

    “Rather, it seemed that some preferred to work from their own beliefs or rely on their own experience. At its extreme, I find this deficiency to be unacceptable. In part, I think these deficits reflect the dire need to build some basic competencies in research methodologies and critical appraisal skills across the public service, and to bolster the leadership ranks with people formally trained in the relevant disciplines.”

    A table he presents shows that MSD are leaving much to be desired in their use of scientific evidence. No wonder we got the welfare reforms that Bennett and her buddies rammed through.

    • karol 2.1

      Thanks for the links and the detail, xtasy.

      I guess AAAP can find resources because they use unpaid volunteers.

      I guess it’s too much to hope that the MSM would cover this action, and report on it accurately.

  3. AsleepWhileWalking 3

    Thanks X, particularly for the info re lack of evidence in policy formation.

    I find the belief that disabled lack good “work ethic” (what IS that statement based on??) particularly disturbing as it assumes attitude of their long term clients is to blame for lack of adaptation for disabilities by employers.

  4. Tiger Mountain 4

    Went to that Onehunga activity for a couple of hours and Karol is spot on–“Positive, practical, well-planned, collaborative, good humoured, friendly, inclusive, community-centred action”.

    Several people had actually come over from West Auckland for assistance from the team of advocates. People were really impressed with the change in attitude from case managers (faced with volunteers who knew the law and departmental policy), “never been treated so respectfully at WINZ” one said to me.

  5. karol 5

    Saw quite a few people in AAAP tee shirts around New Lynn centre yesterday – looking friendly and engaging with people in conversations – handing out leaflets. Looked like a great way to engage with the local community face-to-face as part of their practical advocacy work.

  6. xtasy 6

    karol and others –

    here is a new website, with probably familiar info, but perhaps a bit better presented. It is designed as a prospective “blog”, I do not view it as being a blog as such yet, but I presume it may evolve into that. At least some crucial information is there for easy access, and perhaps better to read than some posts on it already on ACC Forum:

    http://nzsocialjusticeblog2013.wordpress.com/2013/09/07/the-health-and-disability-panel-and-its-hand-picked-members/

    http://nzsocialjusticeblog2013.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/medical-and-work-capability-assessments-based-on-the-controversial-bio-psycho-social-model/

  7. Mary 7

    Anything floating around on the latest beneficiary fraud bill that’s just gone to the select committee? It’s indescribably despicable.

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