web analytics
The Standard
Advertising

Power disconnections increase as hardship grants are cut

Written By: - Date published: 8:47 am, March 25th, 2014 - 38 comments
Categories: benefits, class war, national, paula bennett, same old national - Tags:

paula bennett photo op

Radio New Zealand has reported this morning that since 2008 the number of power disconnections has soared at the same time that hardship grants by WINZ for electricity and gas are falling. Work & Income made nearly 7,000 fewer hardship grants last year than in 2011, but disconnections rose more than 10,000.

The Government sent Simon Bridges to be interviewed. This is a strange decision as you would think that the Minister in charge of WINZ who issue the hardship grants should have been interviewed instead.  The issue is clearly related to poverty and WINZ’s refusal to deal properly with clear cases of hardship.

It was reported that in 2008 there were 10,000 power disconnections although this figure had dropped after the death of Folole Mulianga and steps then taken to ensure that medically vulnerable people did not have their power cut.

Bridges told Radio New Zealand that he wanted fewer disconnections to occur.  The way he discussed the matter it seems that an inability to pay is somehow the power companies fault.  And good luck with that once they are all privatised and have obligations to private shareholders.

He said he had written to the power companies outlining his expectation that disconnections should come down and has threatened to use regulatory powers against them.  He has told his Ministry officials to work with WINZ officials to “work on some of the processes they have to just ensure that if there is any room for improvement there that we are improving and we are assisting beneficiaries …”

He thought that a solution would involve better communication to WINZ clients of their rights.  You get that, better communication will pay outstanding bills and there is no problem with hardship grant policies.

Brent Edwards noted that disconnections had increased from 10,000 in 2008 to four times that level today.

Instead of blaming the Electricity Companies Bridges Bennett and Co ought to have a look at the increasing incidence of poverty.  Maybe they should start by developing an official measurement of poverty.

38 comments on “Power disconnections increase as hardship grants are cut”

  1. Tangled up 1

    Brent Edwards noted that disconnections had increased from 10,000 in 2008 to four times that level today.

    The requirement for electricity companies to operate according to commercial criteria isn’t working.

    Surely electricity should be a service that everyone can access without breaking their budget.

    Why can’t electricity be delivered via the public sector (funded/subsidised through taxation) like education and health?

    • bad12 1.1

      Tangled up, agree with you entirely, along with the single desk wholesaler of electricity it is my view that a Labour/Green Government need build a Government owned nationwide retailer tasked with delivering electricity to household consumers at a rate that can be clearly seen as 1-2% above what the wholesaler is charging,

      Such a company should be modeled upon the ‘best’ of what is currently available including an ‘online provider’, and, if such a company sends all the other retailers to the wall, wouldn’t that be tough, but, that’s what REAL competition is all about…

    • Ergo Robertina 1.2

      It isn’t working as a commercial model, and this goes to a fundamental flaw in our market economy that neither side wants to acknowledge.
      Because politicians of both stripes are not sure how to set up an economy that does not depend on price gouging and ticket clipping on basic services in a small population base.
      NZ Power is not a game-changer.

      • bad12 1.2.1

        Ergo Robertina, i tend to agree with you in the vein of ”what would a single desk wholesaler do to hold down the profit gouging of the retail providers of electricity”,

        i somehow think that it is wishful thinking that just because prices at the wholesale level are kept in check the retailers will be somehow constrained in their attempts at profit maximization,

        However, a Government owned retailer charged with delivering electricity to households at cost plus 1 or 2% certainly would…

    • Draco T Bastard 1.3

      Why can’t electricity be delivered via the public sector (funded/subsidised through taxation) like education and health?

      It can be and, in fact, that’s how it used to be but we got those fools in Treasury demanding that everything needs to make a profit and preferably be privately owned including government services. The 4th Labour government started the implementation of theses delusional and psychopathic policies and they’ve been followed ever since by our political parties.

    • PapaMike 1.4

      Are there any figures as to whether the total disconnections are from the same families ?
      Are they all separate families ?

      • freedom 1.4.1

        There were reportedly 40,000 disconnections in the last year alone PapaMike.

        I am sincerely interested in your questions,
        mainly because I cannot decipher what you are trying to spin from this?

      • Tracey 1.4.2

        yes, there are four families in total, being regularly disconnected since 2008.

        by day they are cleaning windscreens at major intersections and not declaring tgeir earnings, so its not really about poverty.

  2. Colt45 2

    One miunte at The Standard you’re all talking about gambling being the plight of the poor in NZ.

    And the next minute you’re all talking about increased power disconnections amongst the poor in NZ.

    Just saying.

    • bad12 2.1

      Dolt45, do we really need to sit here and patiently explain to you the proliferation of gambling outlets and their relevance to an increased rate of power disconnections of an increasingly desperate demographic who are increasingly being denied additional financial help from WINZ,

      That question was entirely rhetorical in nature, intent and content,we all here at the Standard could spend the whole of our day explaining such relationships to you but in the final analysis it is doubtful your ‘wing-nut’ would with deliberation choose to comprehend such relationships,

      My view is that you are in fact an empty vessel, a mere spitoon, and far from waste my time giving elongated explanations to the likes of you i would propose that we all use you as the destination of our sputum as we en masse expectorate it in your direction…

    • Tracey 2.2

      so you agree that cutting funding to an effective provider of treatment and prevention of gambling problems will lead to even more power disconnections amongst the poir?

    • Weepu's Beard 2.3

      I think one “miunte” gambling (and spelling, heh) is a social problem foisted upon us by marketing types, like smoking and drinking. And the next minute electricity is, well, a survival tool. Can you not see the difference?

    • miravox 2.4

      “One miunte at The Standard you’re all talking about gambling being the plight of the poor in NZ.

      And the next minute you’re all talking about increased power disconnections amongst the poor in NZ.”

      Great that you’re seeing links between different factors of the economy and society and how these links might impact on the everyday lives of people. Mind you, in this case you’d need to show causation between the gamblers and the whole of the 40,000 disconnections to make your point, I assume, that poor people gamble therefore they have their power disconnected.

      If only we had a government that was as smart as you. Then we might have policies to reduce the links between (to start a random list)

      gambling and money taken out of communities
      gambling and unattended children
      low pay and empty cupboards
      high electricity prices and no fridges
      high house prices and high rents
      casualised workforce and delayed visits to doctors
      rugby and domestic violence
      alcohol availability and emergency department admissions
      domestic violence and kids missing school
      dairy farming in dry areas and polluted groundwater
      a market model for electricity, low pay and people choosing between food and light

      Just imagine if we could link 3 or more factors without doing our heads in? We might be on the way to a brighter future.

  3. Bastables 3

    @Colt45
    Are you inferring a link between those in poverty being shafted from multiple vectors in a society that is increasingly predicated on inequality?

    Mate welcome to western thinking/discourse in the 19th century[and present day New Zealand]. Haere mai, Haere mai.

  4. vto 4

    Electricity has become a necessity for survival in Aotearoa. It is required for heat and cooking. Most of us are not allowed to burn wood for heating or cooking and so are forced by law to use electricity. This is a fact.

    So imagine if we were not allowed water because we could not afford it?

    Eh?

    Water and electricity are essential for survival in NZ. As such they cannot be left to the vagaries of private ownership and maximum charge. The fact that electricity is so left is disgusting and a sign of a poor society with little regard for its citizens. Poor us. Shameful.

    • bad12 4.1

      vto, yep, water, electricity,food, and a decent affordable ‘shelter’ as a home should be the basic rights of every New Zealander, no ifs nor buts, simple basic human rights,

      • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1

        +111

      • Olwyn 4.1.2

        +1000. If we had the collective will to fiercely defend these basic human rights, any economic system we followed would be forced to accommodate us, rather than the other way round.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.2

      Water and electricity are essential for survival in NZ. As such they cannot be left to the vagaries of private ownership and maximum charge.

      QFT

      And it used to be considered, many years ago, as a public good which is why the government built the generators and the lines.

    • Tracey 4.3

      100% agreement with this.

      I also believe the unit price should be the same regardless of where you live in nz.

      • Draco T Bastard 4.3.1

        The unit price should be the same no matter if it’s a home using it or a business.

  5. FrizzleFry 5

    Interesting. It would appear that after a brief dip following the death of Folole Muliaga in 2007 disconnections for non-payment have returned to the 2006 level (~45,000), when the economy was doing reasonably well and unemployment was at a generational low.

    https://www.google.co.nz/#q=disconnections+for+non-payment+ea+nz

    • Tracey 5.1

      if correct this shows that good economic news or bad economic news the poor struggle and the neo lib capitalist plan has notched up another loss.

    • mickysavage 5.2

      Looks like working for families kicked in and the power companies started behaving themselves no doubt in part because of Folole Muliaga’s death.

      So how does this excuse the cutting of emergency grants at the same time as disconnections have again soared?

  6. Tracey 6

    if this were a caption contest…

    “this is MY bowl of soup”

    is bennett overseas on hols, hence bridges roped in?

  7. Tracey 7

    gordon campbell nails my thoughts on paula bennett and labour *??

    “Unfortunately, the inability of politicians to look in the mirror is evident close to home as well. Social Development Minister Paula Bennett’s recent description of Kim Dotcom as a “fat German” is a crass and obvious example. Bennett would be better advised to address the culture of cruelty that she – and her Labour predecessors – have fostered within Work and Income offices. Routinely, WINZ abuses the people who seek the welfare support to which they are perfectly entitled, as taxpayers and citizens. The courageous, eloquent accounts of her experiences at WINZ by sickness beneficiary Sarah Wilson have gone viral in recent weeks for a reason. Clearly, this is not the way that New Zealanders want to treat each other when they’re in need. Bennett and her colleagues should be ashamed for enabling such a culture to exist, and for making political capital out of it. At the same time, if Labour MP Maryan Street really is going to take up the challenge and address the issues that Sarah Wilson has exposed, we need to know that a Labour government would act differently on welfare issues. Is Labour for instance, still fully committed to making Working For Families available to beneficiaries – or has that policy gone down the memory hole?”

  8. Richard@Down South 8

    Anyone able to find the breakdown of inflation measures?

    As i understand it, big ticket items such as cars, tv’s are taken into account (both of which have gotten cheaper over the years) while things such as power, rent and food have gone up at rates higher than inflation.

    My theory is if you’re spending your money on essentials (like even a lot of dual – middle income families who are struggling), and wages/benefit increases are set at inflation related rate, say 2%, which is fine, except if inflation minus the big ticket items, is say 8, 10 or even 15%, it would be easy to see why people aren’t getting ahead.

    (I read somewhere, perhaps NRT, last year, that rent is on average, 77% higher scaled to incomes, than it was 30 years ago)

    • Molly 8.1

      I read a while ago that sudden increases in some products and services can be designated as “volatile” and as such are excluded from inflation calculations – as the inflation figures are to measure long term trends.

      I took this to mean that, if petrol rises 45% over the year, this increase will be flattened out. If rates go up 20% – that too is considered volatile and adjusted to fit the trend.

      So the inflation rate does not seem to measure the difference in price for essentials – which would be useful. So although NZ’ers pay more for these things, the inflation figure does not reflect it. Another reason why linking wage increases to inflation is flawed.

      I’ve never had much time for inflation figures since. But if anyone can be bothered, the Reserve Bank has a couple of links: Inflation calculator and A pdf: Measures of New Zealand core inflation.

      “Note that in using the CPI to measure price changes, the calculator may not give a good estimate of the level of prices of assets (e.g. house prices) or the prices of individual goods/services whose price levels have on average changed by significantly more or less than the change in the CPI in the specified years.”

  9. Bill 9

    You’re missing something here ms.

    40 000 disconnections are for people who are paying for their electricity on a monthly basis. That figure does not include those on some kind of pay-card meter…those people don’t get disconnected; rather they just quietly and invisibly, go without electricity until they can top up their cards.

    I believe, as an aside, there was something about those costs being 60% higher than in ‘regular’ scenarios.

    Anyway. Go to WINZ a few times and you get sent (pointlessly) to a budget adviser or/and portions of your entitlement will get directly controlled by WINZ (rent payments, electricity payments etc)…meaning that there will be even more weeks when a person claiming entitlements is short, and worse, they will have lost the ability to juggle since so much of their payment is out of their budgetary control. Point is, once WINZ are making payments directly from your entitlements, you can’t then pop into WINZ and say there is an emergency because you had to pay every last penny on electric and need a food grant or whatever. And that means there are fewer hardship grants.

    Meanwhile, if you are on a pre-pay card meter, then hey…you’re screwed.

    • Ergo Robertina 9.1

      ‘I believe, as an aside, there was something about those costs being 60% higher than in ‘regular’ scenarios.’

      David Shearer highlighted the 60% differential this month (it was also highlighted in a 2012 Otago Uni study) between prepay and monthly bills. Truly a disgrace, when the customers present zero credit risk. A better example I do not know of what Gordon Campbell in a column in 2012 labelled New Zealand’s ‘predator society’ where both the arms of Government and the private sector basically do over a small isolated population where free market values reign supreme.

      • Tracey 9.1.1

        deserves a more expansive post of its own

      • rhinocrates 9.1.2

        Fuck Shearer. Captain Mumblefuck bashes beneficiaries when he finds it convenient. Don’t expect him to be any use if Labour gains the treasury benches – a fair-weather friend is a traitor in waiting. You can trust him as far as you can trust Bennett.

  10. Tanz 10

    she is just a Key puppet, doesn’t care, no empathy, she’s alright, so stuff everyone else.

    • Weepu's Beard 10.1

      Paula Bennett? Indeed. Not sure she had to pick herself up by the bootstraps with no power in the house.

      • Draco T Bastard 10.1.1

        No, she didn’t. She had full government support – support that she’s been taking away as fast as she can.

  11. tc 11

    Plenty of other grants and ancillary benefits seem to be getting chopped by letter leaving folk to approach those lovely people at winz.

    Ive had a few chats with elderly folks who winz have put through the blender just to maintain what they have been getting for years with limited sucess leaving them in trouble if family and friends werent helping.

  12. Richard@Down South 12

    Last time I was in my local branch, there was a newly taped line about 3 metres from the counter, maybe 4… chairs had been displaced, and people were standing because all the chairs were full

  13. A VOTER 13

    PULA BENIFIT a good aka for the subject
    Poverty credentials
    Over fifty and still labouring for a living
    Ill and paying 3 fifths of 5/8ths of FA of a benefit to live
    Taxed at 45 + % on every thing you buy or earn
    Cant see poverty on that what an AH

Important links

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

1 2 3 7

  • Housing Accord not working – prices continue skyward
      The Government's Auckland Housing Accord isn't working as house prices continue to go through the roof, Labour's Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “The average Auckland house has gone up by $110,000 since the Accord came into effect 15 months… ...
    9 hours ago
  • Justice for Teina Pora long overdue
    The Privy Council’s decision to quash Teina Pora’s convictions for the rape and murder of Susan Burdett could be the final chapter in a case that should have been closed years ago, Labour’s Justice Spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. “Teina Pora… ...
    13 hours ago
  • Ministers must answer questions on IRD blowout
    The current and previous Revenue Ministers must front up and explain how the child support system had a budget blowout from $30 million to $210 million in just four years, says Labour’s Revenue spokesperson Clayton Cosgrove. “Peter Dunne was Revenue… ...
    1 day ago
  • Curb stratospheric public CEO salaries
    A review of the way MPs’ pay is set should also look at ways to curb excessive rises in the salaries of public service chief executives, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “Some of these CEOs have had stratospheric pay increases… ...
    2 days ago
  • 50 cents? Makes no sense.
    The minimum wage rose by 50 cents this month from 14.25 to 14.75. While it’s a small step towards ensuring minimum workers get a fair share, it’s important to remember that real wages only rose 1.5% while productivity rose by… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    2 days ago
  • The Serco corrections circus
    It should seem obvious to employers, private or public, that it’s important to do what you can to retain your best, most experienced staff. They make life easier for you because they’re effective, attentive and often respected by those around… ...
    GreensBy David Clendon MP
    3 days ago
  • Time for NZ to prohibit the killing of great apes
    That ban was widely hailed, and spurred efforts in other countries to get similar bans. However, apes are still being exploited, abused and killed, both in captivity and in the wild. Examples of cruelty, neglect and abuse abound. Apes are… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers MP
    5 days ago
  • Auckland building consents: Tragic
    The only word to describe the latest building consent figures for Auckland is ‘tragic’, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Whatever the Government is doing to address the Auckland housing crisis, it is clearly not working. ...
    5 days ago
  • A whiff of a new biosecurity scandal?
    A pest which could create havoc for New Zealand’s horticulture and agriculture sector must be as much a focus for the Government as hunting out fruit flies, Labour’s Biosecurity spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “While the Ministry for Primary Industries is… ...
    6 days ago
  • Government shrugs off health sector crisis
    Despite new evidence showing that cuts to health spending are costing lives the Government continues to deny the sector is struggling, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. “Health services in New Zealand are in crisis. ...
    6 days ago
  • Parata lowered the bar for failing charter school
    When Hekia Parata became aware that the Whangaruru charter school was experiencing major problems her first action was to drop standards by reducing the number of qualified teachers they had to employ, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins has revealed. “Hekia… ...
    6 days ago
  • National not being straight about the economy
    John Key and Bill English need to be straight with New Zealanders about the damage their failure to diversify the economy is doing, after new figures show export growth plunged due to a collapse in dairy exports, says Grant Robertson.… ...
    7 days ago
  • Mind the Gap
    This week the International Monetary Fund released a report on the wider economic value in closing the gender pay gap. When even the bastions of free-market economics start to raise concerns about gender pay gaps, we have to realise how… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    7 days ago
  • Labour will hold National to parental leave promise
    Labour will hold National to its promise to increase the support given to new parents of premature, multiple birth and babies born with disabilities, Labour’s paid parental leave campaigner Sue Moroney says. "I am naturally disappointed that after battling for… ...
    1 week ago
  • It was all just pillar talk
    Steven Joyce’s confession that he can no longer guarantee a pillar-free design for the New Zealand International Convention Centre shows the Government has abandoned its dream of creating an ‘iconic’ ‘world-class’ structure, says Labour Economic Development spokesperson David Clark. “Steven… ...
    1 week ago
  • Australians move on offshore speculators
    John Key might want to have a quiet word with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott about Canberra's just-announced crack down on offshore speculators when he visits New Zealand this week, Labour's Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says."Tony Abbott's centre right government… ...
    1 week ago
  • Government at odds on overseas driver crashes
    National backbencher Jacqui Dean has spoken out about overseas driver crashes, putting herself at odds with Prime Minister John Key who is on record as saying it’s not a big issue, Labour’s Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “I’m not surprised… ...
    1 week ago
  • Human Rights and the Palestine Crisis
    Last week I heard two Palestinians speak at Wellington events about the ongoing crisis in their country. Samar Sabawi spoke to a full house about the history of Palestine and gave us a lucid and disturbing account of the situation… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    1 week ago
  • Time to take real care of our kids
    An Amnesty International report has once again criticised New Zealand’s track record on looking after our kids, Labour’s Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. The annual report, which looks at global human rights abuses highlights not only the fact that high… ...
    1 week ago
  • John Key wrong about Labour’s war vote
    John Key’s desperate claims that the former Labour Government didn’t put combat troop deployment to a Parliamentary vote are simply wrong, Labour’s Defence spokesperson Phil Goff says. “It was disgraceful that the Prime Minister ran rough shod over democracy and… ...
    1 week ago
  • Manus Island and the New Zealand Government
    This week the Greens have participated in awareness activity about Manus Island, the refugee camp on an island in Papua New Guinea where Australia dumps asylum seekers. John Key says that he has every confidence in the Australian Government’s claim… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Election Inquiry – Getting accessible voting on the agenda
    James Shaw has been doing a series of blogs on the Election Inquiry into last year’s general election.  I thought this was a great opportunity to raise an issue very dear to me – accessible voting. Last year’s general election… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers MP
    2 weeks ago
  • RMA changes no solution to Christchurch housing
    Housing will continue to be a big issue in 2015. The latest Consumer Price Index, released last month, shows both good news and bad news on the housing front. After years of being the most expensive place to build a… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Saving kokako in South Auckland’s Hunua Ranges
    It is amazing that you can hear the song of the endangered North Island kokako in South Auckland’s Hunua Ranges, less than 50 kms from the central city. A heavy schedule of policy workshops at the Green Party’s Policy… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Let’s not turn a blind eye to human rights
    The Cricket World Cup has just opened in New Zealand, and it’s an opportunity for us to shine on the world stage. International sport can be a chance for us to build relationships with other countries, and examine what it… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Its Just Not Cricket
    This week it was my privilege to work with Sri Lankan Tamil communities in this country and host Australian journalist and human rights advocate Trevor Grant. I knew a bit about Trevor from his biography but I didn’t know just… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    3 weeks ago
  • Time for NZ to #BeCrueltyFree
    The Government is about to progress the final stages of the Animal Welfare Amendment bill. This will be our last opportunity to get changes made to improve the bill to ensure a better outcome for animals. I have put forwards… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers MP
    3 weeks ago
  • We want access!
    Access to buildings is a big issue for many New Zealanders. It looks like that, due to the hard work and persistence of people in the disability community, the Government may finally be starting to take access to buildings seriously.… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers MP
    3 weeks ago
  • Greens call on Super Fund to divest from fossil fuels
    The Green Party today called on the New Zealand Superannuation Fund (the Fund) to divest from fossil fuels, starting immediately with coal. The call was accompanied with a new report, Making money from a climate catastrophe: The case for divesting… ...
    GreensBy Russel Norman MP
    3 weeks ago

Removed at the request of The Daily Blog.
Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere