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Rorts

Written By: - Date published: 2:14 pm, July 23rd, 2012 - 59 comments
Categories: capitalism, class war, Ethics, welfare - Tags: , ,

Two headlines almost side by side in The Herald this morning.

Bennett increases pursuit of welfare ‘rorts’

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says more work is under way to detect beneficiary households, where multiple members are being paid the accommodation supplement. She said it was not unlawful or considered to be fraud by Work and Income but she believed most New Zealanders would see it as “a rort”. …

Ms Bennett said that she was also considering a system whereby people who were given grants for food could be given a food parcel instead.

and…

Trillions disappear offshore to tax havens

A global super-rich elite has exploited gaps in cross-border tax rules to hide an extraordinary US$21 trillion ($26 trillion) of wealth offshore – as much as US and Japanese GDPs put together – according to research commissioned by the campaign group Tax Justice Network.

The detailed analysis in the report, compiled using data from a range of sources including the Bank of International Settlements and the International Monetary Fund, suggests that for many developing countries the cumulative value of the capital that has flowed out of their economies since the 1970s would be more than enough to pay off their debts to the rest of the world. …

The sheer size of the cash pile sitting out of reach of tax authorities suggests standard measures of inequality radically underestimate the true gap between rich and poor.

According to Henry’s calculations, US$9.8 trillion of assets is owned by only 92,000 people, or 0.001 per cent of the world’s population – a tiny class of the mega-rich who have more in common with each other than those at the bottom of the income scale in their own societies. “These estimates reveal a staggering failure: inequality is much, much worse than official statistics show, but politicians are still relying on trickle-down to transfer wealth to poorer people,” said John Christensen of the Tax Justice Network. “People on the street have no illusions about how unfair the situation has become.” …

A spokeswoman for UK Uncut said: “People like [Topshop owner] Philip Green use public services – they need the streets to be cleaned, people need public transport to get to their shops – but they don’t want to pay for it.”

Discuss.

[Bunji: The story-breaking articles at the Guardian are worth a read too]

59 comments on “Rorts”

  1. felix 1

    “She said it was not unlawful or considered to be fraud”

    So what’s she intending to do when she “detects” such households?

    • Kotahi Tane Huna 1.1

      Publish their names and addresses of course.

    • David H 1.2

      Go visit, look in the cupboards, if there';s more than 4 cans of beans call in the Benefit police to trump up a fraud charge?

    • Murray Olsen 1.3

      She intends to make new aspirational opportunities available to them. Or maybe push for the building of enough state houses so that landlords no longer get paid out their government reward for overcharging?

  2. Carol 2

    Ms Bennett said that she was also considering a system whereby people who were given grants for food could be given a food parcel instead.

    Food parcels could be delivered to people in need instead of grants, which cost about $63 million a year, and possibly with recipes in them because many people did not know cooking basics.

    Aunty Paula representing the Nanny State.

    • prism 2.1

      Good morning, good morning, good morning. Here are some tips for beneficiaries.
      Now we all know how important breakfast is especially for kiddies. Pour your milk on your weetbix and any that is left over can be fed to the fowls which make lovely pets for the children.
      Just watch that friends’ dogs don’t chase and frighten or kill them. They
      don’t like it and won’t lay any eggs then.

    • xtasy 2.2

      Well, maybe that is another business idea that National has up their sleeves?

      Food parcel distribution to the client’s doorstep, year right!

      Once every WINZ client will be forced to accept a payment card, and once WINZ may have established their own “poor people’s bank”, the transactions will become very cost effective and easy.

      Maybe Paula is going to set her new hubby up for starting a distribution business, delivering food parcels to all beneficiaries on payment days?

      For a small fee, direct debited from the payment card and client account, this will become the standard feeding operation of the poor – nationwide. It will ensure no waste on alcohol, cigarettes, expensive movie tickets, fast food and gambling at the casino. The operation will be outsourced by MSD to a smart business operator, like perhaps Paula Bennett’s hubbie.

      Next step will be standardised uniforms for every beneficiary, just give us your sizes, we will deliver. Put a yellow star with ‘WINZ’ on the chest so we can quickly identify you as one of our “valued” clients in queue for a job.

      • fender 2.2.1

        Following on from that will be Camp Winz, cheap mass housing (tents/cabins/holding pens/razor wire), incredibly cheap once the introductory communal shower and the earthmover are paid for.

        [lprent: Godwin’s law comments. Kind of boring. ]

        • fender 2.2.1.1

          “Godwins Law” pop-psych catch-phrase.. equally boring.

          Most boring (and destructive): demonising Minister for social development.

          As Godwins suggests I’ve lost another arguement.

          • Majella 2.2.1.1.1

            Not sure Godwin’s applies here. Have you read any extracts of “The Report from Iron Mountain”? Many claim it debunked as a ‘hoax’ – but it seems less and less absurd as the entire global economy heads to hell…

  3. framu 3

    considering that when applying for a benefit/accommodation supplement you need to provide

    a copy of your lease*
    amount of flatemates and their names*
    and some figures around how much rent you pay in order to get an accommodation supplement*

    then this is just utter dog whistly BS

    * thats what it was like back in the 90s – so im guessing its tougher now

    • xtasy 3.1

      framu: Yes, you are basically correct.

      WINZ will not pay any accomodation supplement until it has evidence how much rent a client pays.

      If a person is flatting, they will ask for a copy of the lease or a separate agreement (flatting agreement) stating how much of the rent or board the single person pays. The lease should make clear what share a flatmate pays, and also a separate agreement between flatmates sharing the lease should make that clear. Generally: If there is no proof of rent or board payable, WINZ pays NO accommodation supplement.

      I honestly don’t know what Bennett is on about.

      The rule is WINZ only pays accommodation supplements on the actual rental share a flattie pays.

      If a flat is shared by more than declared, and if the rent share per flatmate is lowered, then a client has the responsibility to notify WINZ of the change of circumstances. That can and usually will lead to an adjustment.

      So what would declaring false information represent? To my understanding “fraud” or at least failing to comply with client responsibilities (or both). But according to what Bennett was quoted saying, that is not so. Let me guess, maybe she does not have a clue about the law and the Social Security Act. In any case, that should mean, she is in the wrong job!

    • David H 3.2

      Oh yes it’s tougher now. they want to know everything right down to the colour of the patch on your undies. And if you need a emergency food (or other grant) then there is NO appointments so you have to go and sit in the office ALL day until someone will have 5 mins free to make you do your little dance and jump through the hoops. I know, I just had to do it to beg for fuel, to get my partner to hospital in the early morning. But in the end it all depends on who you get. In my local WINZ there are some really helpful people (but I do notice that they are the ones that all of a sudden vanish to be replaced with a ‘prick/prickess’) Which is why I am not saying where I am.

  4. Draco T Bastard 4

    Well, we can be sure that neither Paula Bennett nor this government will target the rorts done by the rich and costing the government billions. They’ll just let them keep getting away with it or legalise it.

    • Majella 4.1

      That’s right. When Bill English was RORTING (rooting, more like) the MP “benefits” system – in particular the accommodaiton allowance (!), it wasn’t the Minister of Social Engineering taht dobbed him in, was it?

  5. Tigger 5

    I wish they’d been so proactive on investigating their own MPs, we wouldn’t have paid out all that rort accommodation allowance to Blinglish et al.

    • mike e 5.1

      Two or three Winz staff are being prosecuted for having access to private files at winz .
      Paula bennitto releases private information to the press and nothing is done.
      Crony ism!!

  6. captain hook 6

    I wonder long she would last on a diet of two minute noodles and canned spaghetti?

  7. AmaKiwi 7

     
    One purpose for a casino is to launder money.
    You take $25,000 of (cash) drug money into the casino, buy chips, pretend to do a bit of betting, cash in your chips, and direct the casino to wire the money to a secret bank account in Venuatu, Panama, Gibralter, or whatever tax havens your prefer. 
    You have three lieutenants, each of you laundering $25,000 three times a week and in one year you have moved $15,600,000 out of NZ.  Your competitors (in the drug trade) are doing the same.  And you thought the only purpose for a casino was to scam money from gambling addicts.
     
    P.S.  Labour is originally responsible for our NZ casinos.  It was the Lange government.  
     
     

  8. vto 8

    Regarding that uber-rich group …….

    in my opinion those that perpetuate the system that allows this to happen are disgusting pigs of people. You judge a society by how it treats its poor.

    As such, John Key and his entire government, each and every MP personally, are disgusting pigs of people. Oink

    oink
    oink
    oink

    And in fact that is unfair to our pig population, who are the most wonderful of animals.

    • TT 8.1

      +1
      Tories aren’t people; they’re worthless pieces of shit. Pond scum has more value, and a greater right to life. Tories are a cancer that needs to be cut out of our society.

  9. freedom 9

    Both examples given by the Minister in that article place only one thing in the spotlight, the failure of the system to properly follow their own criteria for qualification of the supplement.

    Won’t stop the rabid right from baying for blood though.
    (p.s. who else had no idea the Minister was Maori ?)

  10. weka 10

     

    In response to questions at a workshop session at the National Party conference in Auckland during the weekend, she said it was possible for six people to be sharing a house and all getting the accommodation supplement, and that the total could be well in excess of the total rent.
     

    I’m struggling to see how that is even possible. Leaving aside Housing NZ tenants (because I don’t understand how that works), I’m pretty sure that WINZ’s AS formula specifically prevents what Bennett is saying. I’ve run a few different hypothetical figures through the calculation and I can’t get anywhere near a figure where the total AS paid into a household would even cover the rent let alone exceed it (that’s assuming everyone is declaring, which is what she is saying, and is assuming no-one is getting TAS or SpB).
     
    Can anyone else see how that might work?

    • Colonial Viper 10.1

      Its good of you to spend time on this, but I suspect its another Tory irrelevancy designed to please unthinking supporters.

      They are also tacitly accepting multiple families having to share one house.

    • xtasy 10.2

      Truth is: It is just another mean spirited “sound bite” offered by Bennett for the equally dumb and ignorant mass media out there, who employ mostly greasy, career focused, over groomed and attention seeking journos who have studied little else than “journalism” at journalism school, then had to prostitute themselves for a graduate work experience without pay and finally get hired by commercial media pre-occupied with selling advertising and otherwise dumbing down the public.

      Research and investigative journalism have been abolished, as it is too low for reaching cost benefit ratios.

      Such “bites” appeal to the red neck support base, so they will scream “hooray”, at last they deal to those lazy “bludgers”!

      You are right: The way WINZ actually works, assesses, processed and grants accommodation supplements, the relity is: It NEVER covers the actual amount of rent payable, which must be paid for by part of the base benefit rate or a temporary additional support component, which is also capped.

      So many have to juggle paying for rent, electricity, water and food every week. Hence there has been a huge increase in demand for special needs grants (also “cracked down” on), and naturally for food parcels from food banks.

      In the early 1990s Ruth Richardson and Jenny Shipley came up with the idea: Put in a vege garden, which is good for supplementing your food requirements and some exercise! I suppose that will be re discovered by Bennett next.

      • freedom 10.2.1

        The absurdist hilarity of the vege garden fiasco is that most getting paid an Accommodation Supplement live in a rented property and many many landlords do not encourage or even allow tenants to operate a garden. Then there is the bugbear of rationality, that growing number who live sans land to garden on.

    • framu 10.3

      “I’m struggling to see how that is even possible”

      thats because its not possible

      http://www.workandincome.govt.nz/individuals/a-z-benefits/accommodation-supplement.html

      i suggest people email dear audrey the above link and ask why she didnt think it wise to do some research

    • mike e 10.4

      Has anyone noticed its no longer called winz but
      now ‘work and income’ the NZ bit is missing does that mean its going to be sold off as well.

      • Majella 10.4.1

        Mike e – would you buy shares in a revitalized govt. corporation called ‘Welfare Distribution (2012) Ltd’?
        The returns could be enormous – JK/BE ‘ Heres your budget, here’s your KPIs, everything you manage to NOT give away, is YOURS!’ (10% consultancy fees apply, please direct to Cayman Islands accountS, as detailed on your invoice)’

    • Mike 10.5

      She’s full of shit and is outright lying. The only way they could do that is if fraud was occurring (i.e they were lying to winz about their share of the rent) because the amount you receive for the accommodation supplement is always less than what you pay in rent. So for example if the 6 people are paying $80 a week each in rent for a $480 house then they will receive less than $480 total accommodation supplement.

      What she doesn’t mention is that someone making $700 a week can still claim an accommodation supplement (they get around $10 I think).

      • xtasy 10.5.1

        What bloody well gets me, that the damned stupid and even biased mainstream media, like I think in this case the “NZ National Herald” again, publish her shit and untrue, ignorant comments, as if they present some “authority” of sorts, coming from “Her Highness” our “Minister”!

        It is all crap and nonsense, as you say, and the law is already clear on all this.

        Bennett though, I am starting to realise more and more, she does not even know her own ministry, the departments within it, and she does NOT understand the legal meaning of the provisions of the Social Security Act!

        Having such an idiot run the ministry is a total failure and irresponsibility of any government.

        And she dares to put this unjustified, unfounded talk about “rorts” into circulation, while we have an explosion of rents and housing costs right now in most of Auckland.

        1 bedroom flats now go for over $ 300, even around $ 350 a week, 2 bedroom flats are that and more, some now $ 400 or more a week, and 3 or 4 bedroom homes are asking for rents that used to be charged for luxury apartments on Tamaki Drive.

        This lot is a totally mean spirited, incompetent, ignorant, self serving and social conscience and responsibility lacking bunch of governing bastards, they should be facing a scorched earth treatment by the populace, which though is sadly resigned to desperate servitude, and too frightened to stand up and speak out. NZ is LOST like this!

  11. tracey 11

    She is just feeding the oft repeated myth that many beneficiaries are committing fraud. Labour spent time and money doing the same thing in 2007 and found tiny instances of fraud, and a bunch of fraud by employees.

    But this govt doesnt let facts get in the way of populist myth making.

  12. tracey 12

    Oh dear, all the nat supporters who villified the greens using their leaders budget to fund people for the petition now have to take a deep breath and villify their leader for using the leaders fund to poll nzers

    • felix 12.1

      Details?

      • rosy 12.1.1

        Just another case of doing whatever the you feel like

        Prime Minister John Key has used taxpayer funding provided through Parliament to ask voters which political party they vote for, potentially providing canvassing data for the National Party.

        The survey asks for voters views on a range of topics, but also asks which party they always, or usually, support.

        It has sparked questions from the Opposition about whether the rules covering taxpayer-funded mailouts from Parliament should be reviewed.

        The letter, which has landed in mailboxes across the Wellington region, has three inserts; a letter from Key, a summary of the budget, and a questionnaire for voters to fill out and send back Freepost to Key at Parliament.

        All three inserts carry the parliamentary crest, and a spokeswoman for Key confirmed they were paid for out of the taxpayer-funded ”leader’s budget”.

        Asking people who they voted for… from the party in power… that’s a bit cheeky isn’t it?

  13. xtasy 13

    So the New Zealand Herald has done it yet again! Spreading lies to the public:

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10822157

    I followed this up and phoned them. After being put through to the PA of the Editor, I explained the truth and that their editorial was wrong and misleading, relying on a lying minister that is incompetent and should not be in her job.

    After a minute of listening I was supposedly to be put on hold, but I was put through to the answer phone of the editor, hence I left a further message there, after which I was cut off.

    There has been no return call, there has been no response, there has been no correction of the misinforming, not fact based “editorial” today, and instead, it seems they have now deleted me as “commenter” to their articles under the “opinion” heading.

    That proves now for sure, the NZ Herald is misinforming the public, telling lies, supporting a rotten, also misinforming, manipulating government and has no true value as a mass media that is supposed to “cater” to the wider public and “inform” them.

    Such crappy media should be nationalised and the editors sacked for good, never to work in their jobs again!

    • xtasy 13.1

      Correction: Re-ckecking my user profile on the NZ Herald website, it appears to only have been inaccessible temporarily, maybe for technical reasons? Yet one should expect them to publish comments pointing out their mistakes, or they should publish a correction of wrong published info. I see none of that happening.

      • xtasy 13.1.1

        The Herald has NOT published comments I made under my NZ Herald user name since I raise this matter!!!

    • xtasy 13.2

      The NZ Herald is not interested in the truth about beneficiaries and seems to stubbornly stick to their “editorial”, which followed the wrong report about supposed “accommodation supplement rorts” early in the week.

      Having informed their editor and one journalist, who have been repeating the wrong information that Paula Bennett has been spreading about beneficiaries sharing their accommodation and being able to claim more in the way of supplements than the actual rent, what the actual true facts re granting and entitlement to that benefit component is, they are simply ignoring all this and continue publishing misleading and wrong information:

      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10822157

      See my comments above about the truth about accommodation supplements.

      If journalists and editors write stuff, one would think they would first of all check whether info they refer to is true. That is not done though, so mainstream media becomes complicit in misleading the public, which is absolutely appalling and should be exposed. Accountability does not seem to exist.

      I have been informed that an MP is going to follow up the matter and challenge mischievous PB.

      • Mike 13.2.1

        I have long thought the Herald is dodgy. They won’t publish my letters anymore because of an email argument I had with the editor of ‘letters to the editor’.

        The email conversation went like this:

        My initial letter to the herald regarding Time Warner and The Hobbit.

        Sir

        I find it extraordinary that one media corporation, namely Time Warner has enough power not only to get millions in concessions from our government, but to be able to actually force a law change in our country. 1.4 million New Zealanders recently asked for a law change through referendum and were ignored. But one American corporation which exists only to maximise profit for its foreign owners requests a law change and our Prime Minister pushes through a new law in less than a day! This shows John Key’s true colours, always profit before people just like in his days working on the Foreign Exchange Committee of the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Those criticizing the actors and CTU should remember that for centuries our ancestors have fought and sometimes sacrificed their lives fighting for the human rights we enjoy today. However small a particular right may be, to flippantly suggest that someone should give up that right to a foreign corporation is hugely disrespectful to those ancestors. Wake up New Zealand. Your government clearly views the profiteering demands of a foreign corporation as more important than those of the New Zealand people. We must be a laughing stock in Hollywood.

        Reply from Kevin Hart, Letters Editor:-

        Dear reader. John Key never worked for the Federal Reserve. If you wish your letter to be considered for publication, you might amend it so it is factually correct. Regards.
        Kevin Hart.
        NZ Herald.

        My reply back to Kevin Hart

        Hi Kevin

        Below taken from wiki and from John Key’s own website. My understanding is that the New York Fed is the main branch of the United States Federal Reserve. (A privately owned run for profit central bank) I have amended the letter to reflect. Hope that suits

        regards
        Mike

        “In 1995, he joined Merrill Lynch as head of Asian foreign exchange in Singapore. That same year he was promoted to Merrill’s global head of foreign exchange, based in London, where he may have earned around US$2.25 million a year including bonuses, which is about NZ$5 million at 2001 exchange rates. Some co-workers called him “the smiling assassin” for maintaining his usual cheerfulness while sacking dozens (some say hundreds) of staff after heavy losses from the 1998 Russian financial crisis.[4][8] He was a member of the Foreign Exchange Committee of the New York Federal Reserve Bank from 1999 to 2001.[9]”

        Kevin’s reply back to me
        Mike. The Federal Reserve is the US equivalent of our Reserve Bank. To repeat, John Key had had nothing to do with it. Regards.
        Kevin Hart.
        NZ Herald.

        My reply back again to Kevin

        Hi Kevin

        Thank you for your reply. Being a journalist, your research skills are no doubt a good deal better than mine; so I’d be grateful if you could point me in the right direction in the hope I can get the correct information now and in the future? I’m trying to find a summary of John Key’s work history prior to him becoming an MP in NZ. The links below are some of the sources I have used to gather my information. But they all state Key’s involvement with the New York Federal Reserve, an organisation you’re telling me that “John Key had had nothing to do with”

        So I’m confused, as the sources I’ve listed would appear to be reliable, including an article from your own New Zealand Herald. I would really appreciate your help in finding the true facts regarding this matter, which I’m assuming you must get from a non-mainstream, non-widely regarded, perhaps even non-even heard of, secret journalist source?

        thanks in advance and regards
        Mike

        http://www.newyorkfed.org/fxc/members/members_past.html
        http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10412660
        http://www.ny.frb.org/fxc/members/members_past.html
        http://www.johnkey.co.nz/pages/bio.html
        http://www.national.org.nz/bio.aspx?id=28
        http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article5119885.ece
        http://www.nyse.com/press/1253528968415.html
        http://www.thecommonwealth.org/YearbookInternal/172036/head_of_government/

        Received no further correspondence and they will no longer publish my letters.

        • felix 13.2.1.1

          Ha!

        • Murray Olsen 13.2.1.2

          Call me cynical, but I doubt if fact checking was the reason they didn’t publish your letter. Without incorrect statements and blatant falsehoods, they wouldn’t have a newspaper. The used car classifieds are probably the most honest part of their rag.

        • Colonial Viper 13.2.1.3

          The Federal Reserve is the US equivalent of our Reserve Bank. To repeat, John Key had had nothing to do with it. Regards.

          The NZ Herald is completely incompetent. FBNY is a key part of the Federal Reserve System of the United States. When people talk about “the Fed” they are talking about the Federal Reserve System as a whole.

        • xtasy 13.2.1.4

          Come on, the dictator in a de facto dictatorship always is right and has the last word!? Do you dare to doubt this and risk your health and well being? Last warning!

  14. xtasy 14

    The following link proves once and for all, how accommodation supplement is caculated by WINZ:

    http://www.workandincome.govt.nz/manuals-and-procedures/income_support/extra_help/accommodation_supplement/accommodation_supplement-90.htm

    So there is a threshold set at $ 130 which is deducted from the total rent paid, and only 70 per cent of the amount above that is granted as total accommodation supplement, which again cannot go about the maximum allowed in the relevant region.

    My past experience is that it ends up to cover about half of the actual rent paid.

    So the applied policy already is so designed to force people into “affordable” accommodation, often being shared accommodation (e.g. in a shared flatting arrangement).

    Naturally every individual in such a shared flat will only get accommodation supplement paid according to the individual’s share of the total rent.

    Bennett is LYING, same as Phil Heatley, Minister for Housing, was LYING to journalists, when he appeared on The Nation today.

    I could not believe him telling the viewers that Housing NZ tenants can take in boarders who get the accommodation supplement, so they can take advantage of cheap Housing NZ rents AND make a gain by earning extra through the supplement.

    All Housing NZ tenants I know have stipulated in their agreement that they are NOT allowed to sublet to boarders or flatmates!

    But NO mainstream media bothers to check this, and they even mislead the public by spreading the lies of ministers!

    • blue leopard 14.1

      @ xtasy

      I have been wondering how this rort could occur for exactly the reasons you write. Thought one had to let WINZ know how many flatmates one had when applying for an accommo supplement. Had thought something must have changed. Glad you mentioned it.

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