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The Pernicious Food Card

Written By: - Date published: 6:05 pm, August 16th, 2011 - 72 comments
Categories: benefits, class war, cost of living, welfare - Tags: , , ,

Food Cards already exist and are charged up when applications are made for food grants. As it stands at present, the money charged on them can be spent at supermarkets; must be spent within 3 or 4 days and cannot be used to purchase cigarettes or alcohol.

If, as seems likely, loading a proportion of benefit directly on to a food card is rolled out and applied to all beneficiaries, the consequences are going to be significant additional hardships for many people.

Here’s why.

Food grants  can be applied for if an unforseen expense such as the cost of taking an injured pet to the vet for treatment – or paying out money due to some other emergency has occured.

In other words, the food grant is a mechanism whereby hunger can be avoided in instances where money for food has had to be used on other things.(Receipts, proof of money in bank, proof of where money was spent  etc are required by WINZ.)

Simply put, where the cost of food is ring fenced, there is no financial  lee-way to react to life’s unforseen circumstances.

So the pet suffers or dies and the other emergency (whatever it might be) rolls right on over the top of the person on a benefit because they have no room to manouvere; no way to deal to to it or stop it in it’s tracks.

Labour quietly condoning the changes by not confronting them is particularily sickening. Changes to welfare are not about jobs. Changes to welfare are about the very real and immediate effects on the lives of those on a benefit. (Oh, and on 2009 figures, WINZ saving about $81 million on the Special Needs Grants proportion of the over 1 million hardship payments made in that year)

72 comments on “The Pernicious Food Card”

  1. An essential immediate need which is unforeseen is the SNG criteria.

    I have been told by WINZ that home contents insurance was not essential, in other words had I not paid this I would have had $25.32 for food. A pet is probably considered as being non essential.

    • Bill 1.1

      The point (as things currently stand) isn’t whether the pet is essential. The food is.

      And so if you have spent your money on (say) a vet’s bill, you have created an essential need which could not be foreseen insofar as you didn’t know your cat or dog was going to need to be rushed to the vet.

      But if your food money is locked into a card, then you can’t apply for food grants…they won’t exist… and so you can’t take care of your pet or whatever because you’ll have no budget to juggle.

      • freedom 1.1.1

        food grants are written as seperate entitlements in the act and would have to be specifically removed as an entitlement. This process normally brings the issue under a few people’s noses who would be concerned if this is being planned. It used to be $150-$200 a year of specified SNG for entitlements to food. Dentistry is $300 and clothing is $200. The figures may have changed a bit but the speficity of the entitlement has not .. .. .. yet.

        • Bill 1.1.1.1

          I think your missing the point Freedom. If it is impossible to designate the food component of your benefit to other expenses because it’s locked into a card, then you can’t very well go to WINZ and say you have an immediate need for food.

          So you can’t deal with unforseen financial necessities.

          Dentistry and clothing are very different kettles of fish. They aren’t weekly outgoings. And so don’t lend themselves to any ‘budgetary flexibility’ in the way that a need for food does.

          • freedom 1.1.1.1.1

            i agree 100% it is such an unworkable fantasy

            I was not disputing the gamut of problems this tragic policy exposes, i was wanting to show that there are factors i suspect National is being selectively attentive to.

            This policy from National says life is a regimented consistent pattern
            and that is seventeen types of horseshit

            the food concern is the same for all rent and all bills. Many landlords allow a bit of swing time now and then, and i am sure many of us enjoyed that particular luxury once or twice in our younger years. The same with the power companies, phone etc.

            The plan may look great on paper but outside of state controlled work camps the ‘budgets’ of any person’s week are usually redundant before implementation.

            As there will be the food component on the card, there is also an open entitlement for food under SNG that cannot be denied you. It is an entitlement. Power, phone car repairs for example are not and are always on a case by case assesment. The Food , dentistry, clothing components of the entitlement are for health requirements as i understand it.

            • Bill 1.1.1.1.1.1

              You completely lose me when you claim that it is possible to claim an SNG for food when there is a specific non-transferrable dollar amount loaded onto a food card every week.

              How can I claim I have “an immediate need to purchase food” that “was caused by an essential expense that had to be met and which left insufficient money to buy food.” [11.2.1 (a)] & [11.2.1 (c)] respectively of the legislation which can be viewed at http://www.workandincome.govt.nz/manuals-and-procedures/legislation/welfare_programmes/SpecialNeedsGrantsProgramme.pdf if an amount of money deemed necessary to purchase food has been ringfenced and put on a card?

              They don’t have to repeal the food component of SNG legislation. Nobody on a pre loaded food card can possibly satisfy the requirements set down in the legislation.

              • freedom

                honestly Bill, i do get what you mean, i do! I am not saying the person will be able to access extra food money, i agree with you they most likely are fubar on that front. I am saying, in my understanding from my own experiences, there is a legal entitlement in the act for food that is seperate to emergency SNG’s. The fact that the policy apparently fails to adhere to the act or at best makes it unworkable is tough to pass final judgement on, as we have deliberately been given flimsy info and no-one in power deems it important that we have too many details.

                Why not? Because they are still making them up, as usual.

                Modern government is a pathetic and cowardly cabal of policy whores who work any corner that feeds their habit for power and time in the limelight. Once they hear a bit of feedback they will tweak the hem, zip it all up, spit polish the stilettoes and then it’s off to hit Election Avenue. They will work hard too, blowing any John with a prejudice and making sure the pimps get phat paid in bail outs and bonuses.

                • Bill

                  A food SNG doesn’t sit seperate from the other emergency SNGs.

                  • freedom

                    Bill it has obviously been changed along the way the last couple of years, and as your link shows in the recent manual Food grants are under SNG as a non-recoverable grant, but it still exists as a quantifiable event with its own criteria. So at least the right to claim for it still exists. As we both touch on though, with the little cloth star, i mean little green card, the question for those wanting to lodge a claim, is HOW?

          • Deadly_NZ 1.1.1.1.2

            But first you have to get an appointment with winz and with the way that staff have been slashed, it’s about a 10 day wait. So it means that they will be able to say there are NO emergency payments, because how can you make an appointment for an emergency 10 days hence.

            • Bill 1.1.1.1.2.1

              If you are seeking a food SNG, WINZ have to see you on the day you turn up. They don’t like the fact that you don’t need an appointment for a food SNG and will usually try to get you to make one. Which, as you say, is ridiculous.

              So in short, if you need a food SNG, you turn up at the desk, ‘report in’ and then sit down to wait to be seen. And they must see you that day. Given their workload, that can be a long wait, but hey.

      • Treetop 1.1.2

        I did understand that there is no flexibility for an emergency with food loaded on a card.

        I had to ask the case worker to repeat that home contents insurance was not considered as being essential.

        I would like to see the SNG Programme of what is considered as being an essential item. Same with the list for an advance. Everything is capped as well. As well the minister can issue a directive.

        Litigation is going to increase and legal aid is harder to get. It will be interesting to see what decisions come out of the Appeal Authority.

        • Ed 1.1.2.1

          I wonder how many of those uninsured in Christchurch when the earthquakes hit had been advised not to pay an insurance premium by WINZ. If this really happened wouldn’t we have heard of it?

          • Treetop 1.1.2.1.1

            ED this happened to me three months ago. Basically you ask for an amount for food out of the set amount everyone is allocated and they are now knocking down the amount you ask for. I asked for $70 and they knocked it down to $40 when I had a food grant balance of $150 being available at DISCRETION.

            My word against the case worker.

            Deadly NZ if I ever hear something so bloody minded as home contents not being necessary I will ask for this to be put into writing.

        • Deadly_NZ 1.1.2.2

          If they said I did not need Home contents insurance, I would want that in writing, and then I would take it to the insurance company, your local MP, and the papers.

      • weka 1.1.3

        Where there will be leeway is that people don’t spend necessarily the same amount of money on food every week. This week happens to be the week I have to catch up on staples, so I need extra money.
         
        I agree the card looks like it’s going to cause problems for the food SNGs though.
         
        (how does the govt know what each 17 yr old needs for food each week anyway? Won’t it vary from person to person?).

        • bbfloyd 1.1.3.1

          you forget that these aren’t “real” people.. they have been reclassified as “acceptable collateral damage”..

          honestly guys… what do we need well adjusted, healthy youth for if they are just going to be road gang and prison fodder of the future?

          the only ones worth caring about are the ones coming out of “naice” schools.. who’s parents are the “job growers” for the ingrates getting trained for tomorrows service and maintenance sectors.

        • Bill 1.1.3.2

          I believe there was a study done at Otago Uni in the very early 90’s that calculated the necessary minimum food spend for a person. The then National government took that figure and reduced it by a given % (20…30…can’t remember) to work out the dollar amount for food that should be built into benefits.

          Funnily enough, Labour never reversed that ‘starvation diet’ policy.

  2. What happens if your flat mates eats your food or you get robbed?

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      All part of the massive daily insecurity of living on the edge.

      Plenty of people out there couldn’t care less if they got a $100 speeding fine. They make that money back before it hits morning tea. For some other people that sets their whole month back, game over.

      Constant state of insecurity and fear. Fucks people up that does.

      • jackal 2.1.1

        Why don’t beneficiaries get jobs… Oh! That’s right, there aren’t any.

      • Deadly_NZ 2.1.2

        Yeah I have a 200 buck one for no rego and I don’t have 200 and I don’t have the 77 for 3 months rego well 19 for the rego and about 50 bucks to that rip off ACC BUT it does have a WOF. And I have to use my car to get my 3 month old son to hospital in Palmy, and I am in levin so it’s the car, or a draughty van with no child safety seats

        • millsy 2.1.2.1

          You have National to thank for that.

          Bill Birch could only pay for those tax cuts back in 1996 by closing down hundreds of provincial hospitals.

          I think there is a form you can fill out to extend your rego date, so you can get around the full 3 months – I think the colour is yellow…

    • You starve.

      After all somehow it must be your fault, or at least a tory wants to have the ability to think it is your fault so they can feel justified in paying less tax. 

      • Bill 2.2.1

        Nah mickeysavage. See, I detest what the Nats are doing with welfare. And tax. And all the rest of it. But I’m sick and tired of Labour and or Labour apologists side stepping this specific issue (via Tory bashing or harping on about job creation) and refusing to state a position.

        As far as I can see Labour agree with National on this. Both parties are saying that the unemployed can starve. Only difference is, Labour say there will be slightly fewer starving under them, but starving just the same.

        • mickysavage 2.2.1.1

          Bill

          I thought I just stated a position.

          Labour did not increase benefit levels but it did increase education spend, health spend, Social Welfare spend, other spends that help poor people.  

          There is a major difference in approach.  It is really noticeable

          • Deadly_NZ 2.2.1.1.1

            True you used to be able to get an appointment within a day, with someone who was much more helpful, and way less under`worked, than the ones that are left after the razor gang went through. Now it’s more like them and us.

          • Bill 2.2.1.1.2

            mickey. Labour reduced benefit levels.

            Benson Pope replaced Supplementary Benefit with Temporary Additional Support, which was the biggest single cut to benefits since Ruth Richardson.

            And when they introduced Working For Families, they specifically excluded beneficiaries from the scheme.

            It’s true that they didn’t introduce discriminatory caveats alongside their increased spending in health and education though.

            Labour could have attacked this new policy head on very easily (just read some of the comments below) and flanked the Nats position by pointing out their cuts to training and night classes as well as their dismal performance on the job creation front etc.

            But as far as I’m aware they have said nothing on the matter of ringfencing food money and the impacts that will have now and are likely to have in the future if and when the scheme is rolled out to all beneficiaries.

            Is there any reasonable conclusion to be reached, based on Labour’s announcements around this policy, that they are anything other than broadly supportive of it? Since they have said nothing directly to the policy, they must agree with it, no?

  3. freedom 3

    The very busy community loan shops are going to hate this plan
    that is assuming they are not authorised to receive payments
    which is logical seeing as corner dairies, market gardeners and greengrocers won’t be authorised

    Which is funny when the whole idea is to teach responsible use of finances
    yet National are forcing the poorst to buy high price supermarket fruit and veges
    or are cheap fruit & veg a nice to have

    and do not for a second believe this will not be rolled out to be worn on the lapel of every beneficiary
    first day’s work I bet, if National steal a second term

    • Bill 3.1

      Loan shops will get their pound of flesh and then some….as usual. Debt repayments will be ‘paid from source’ if I understand the current plan for 17 and 18 year olds correctly.

      And when they roll out this shit to encompass all beneficiaries, the food card component (as I said) will leave no room to ‘work finances’. And the financial hole that is currently merely beckoning will simply open up beneath peoples’ feet. Many will wind up having their benefit ‘managed’ by a private provider.

      And if those people took out a loan for a situation where previously a food grant and/or ‘a bit less food this week and not so much next week’ would have covered things, or at least taken the edge off ; that private provider/manager will see that the loan is repayed as a priority.

    • just saying 3.2

      Nope.

      Not for superannuitants (who get about $100 per week more than all other benes plus all the top-ups and no means testing) students with interest-free loans, or middle-class receiving working for families (a much bigger slice of the welfare budget than all other benefits outside of super). Can’t imagine Peter Jackson will be affected next time he puts his hand out for a couple of hundie thou either

      This is a straight-out hate campaign against the poorest, weakest, most disadvantaged.
      The benefits are not designed to help people survive with any kind of basic health or dignity. In the long, or even medium term, “managing” on a benefit with no other means of support can’t be done.
      It’s slow death.

      Kicking beneficiaries is NZ’s real national sport. If there were a world cup it would be a sell-out.

      • mickysavage 3.2.1

        Agreed.

        In financial terms it is small cheese but it is part of this incremental approach the Key Government has.  It allows them to stand up and blow the dog whistle really hard and sound like they are bene bashing.  Not many benes will be bashed by this particular policy but this does not matter.

        Any bene blood will allow the sanctimonious rich feel like something is happening to reinforce their belief that they are superior and the poor are things that you have to despise and put up with. 

  4. neoleftie 4

    on second consideration..the underclass have gone from little choice or opportunities to a potential scheme that locks unemployed youth into no choice and no gain in opportunities i.e job growth. From an underclass now simple to a defined no-class as they have limited freedom of choice.The The question to be asked is what objective in the long term does the tories seek, what societal change?
    Seen through an ideological pair of deep red glasses this is nothing more than another policy based on purely business objectives i.e lock in regular payments on rent power etc and punish those of the underclass.
    How about increased funding to special needs programs at the ECE stage of education and then a raft of social programs to actively change or increase the chances of gaining positive choice or opportunities.
    After all the elites never have to worry to much as the are basically conditioned from an early age how to maxmaise opportunities.

  5. A lot of the proposed policy is to keep people at school until age 18 or at home with sometimes neglectful parents. Supplying breakfast in schools just may be a big insentive to stay in school.

    The first three years and the last three years of childhood appears to require the most resources.

    See that SCF may go over 1.2 billion for the bail out as a lower return is now expected for the assests. How many breakfasts and training schemes in schools to keep some youth at school longer would the bail out money have funded?

  6. William Joyce 6

    I don’t know if it’s true but I heard that if you want clothing you’re locked into buying from the “Warewhare” (Warehouse!).
    Soon you will be able to spot the underclass by the clothes they wear.
     
    Which is good, because it makes it easier to spot them when they enter your gated community and for the police to round them up, (assuming the private security and the dogs don’t get to them first).

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      Surely you can get KFC

      I think corporates should be allowed to bid to access monies on the card. Maybe even the odd Destiny Church donation 😈

      • William Joyce 6.1.1

        There’s a point, hows “the bish” going to get on when he can’t fleece the congregation?
        Maybe that’s why he had all those brown-nosing pollies at his church and why Hannah and her sisters are taking over the Maori Women’s Welfare League.

        You’re right, the potential for corporate profits from “Preferred Vendor” status is huge – and an opportunity for a few backhanders
         

    • just saying 6.2

      Soon????

      You already can – those choosing clothing from the $1 box at the sallies, who can’t afford a haircut, or dental care, or adequate nutrition……

      It’s pretty screamingly obvious already. No need for special armbands so we know who to hate.

    • Bill 6.3

      They certainly ‘suggest very strongly’ that you purchase from the Warehouse. But you don’t have to. An argument of ‘buy cheap, pay dear’ usually resonates. Mind you $200 per year doesn’t go far outside of Warehouse type stores.

      I can’t remember if some Op Shops give quotes for WINZ. But it’s a bloody run-a-round providing WINZ with (I think) three seperate quotes for each item for them to generally only fund the cheapest.

  7. jackal 7

    Na! Let’s just cut to the chase and let them bid on the slaves, ahem I mean people. The amount of beneficiaries who work for food stamps the elite can amass will be a new status symbol. What’s the point in all that money if you can’t lord it over and control the poor?

  8. ak 8

    I fear you’re onto it Bill. A ratshit-cunning Nasty Party plan to eliminate the messy food grant programme altogether. Herr Joyce scrawled all over it.

    Roll it out for the scary feral youth on the back of the London riots, give it a month or two, then when the polls are narrowing, praise its “success” in your very own media, slam it on all beneficiaries and ride their pitiful howls to electoral glory.

    Lord help those poor DWI security people if you’re right. Yes, my dear Joky: push this inch and bugger-all might starve, but believe me there’ll be blood. Lots of blood. And it will never, ever, leave your pink, putrid hands.

    Life without grinding, gnashing despair is not a “nice to have”. Listen to the breeze, the tangi in the trees, wee Johnny boy: Enough. Is. Enough.

    Don’t say you weren’t warned.

    • Bored 8.1

      Herr Joyce, ………Lord Hawhaw so appropriate!

      http://www.heretical.com/British/joyce.html for those not in the know.

      • William Joyce 8.1.1

        A twenty first century liberal Joyce – just as his name sake was in the final days of the Reich.
        In the Twilight of the Gods, despairing that there was anyone out there left who still believed in his ideals, the world he loved collapsing around him, drunk in font of a microphone (or a Toshiba Satellite laptop) tapping out his last message before the forces of evil break in.
         
        Or, just the name my grand-mother gave me – you choose.

  9. HC 9

    As it is correctly mentioned in header story above, these “Payment Cards” have already been gradually introduced, supposedly on a “voluntary” basis since last year. In reality they have already been more or less “imposed” on applicants asking for special needs grants for food.

    What they are obviously trialling now on the 16 and 17 year old beneficiaries is clearly already intended to become the standard for all – or at least most beneficiaries! Payment Cards are designed in a way that they can become the standard form of benefit payments for food in future!

    That way Work and Income will be able to strictly control expenditure, so that there is no more “discretionary” spending on what WINZ will deem to be “luxury”, unnecessary or unacceptable (e.g. alcohol and cigarettes).

    As already mentioned there will be major problems arising, because this creates a significant degree of inflexibility, which makes it hard to provide for emergency expenses that may occur. Suddenly there is no cash available where it would be needed straight away, and this must lead to major incoveniences and problems.

    Knowing the way case managers work at W + I they will probably try to fob off people for such exceptional circumstances and blame it on poor budgeting. Maybe they expect the beneficiaries to save up a part of that intended “pocket money” allowed for “discretionary spending” for such emergencies?

    The payment of rent directly from WINZ or the follow up agency to landlords can also lead to a wider approach of this being used for ALL benefit recipients in future. That way the responsible agency may try and influence where people live. It will not be far away that they will tell people on welfare, that they will no longer have a free choice about what is acceptable, appropriate or suitable accommodation. The intention will be to save on accommodation supplements.

    I wonder how landlords will like to deal with this. I suppose many will not mind getting payments directly from WINZ, but then this creates extra problems for the beneficiary and landlord when tenancy agreements are started and terminated. There will then be 3 parties involved to arrange it all, which adds bureaucracy and opens up a pandora’s box for additional complications.

    Some beneficiaries may be able to get accommodation by not revealing that they live off a benefit. That will in future no longer be possible, because the landlord will need to deal with WINZ to arrange the direct payments. At least a tenant will have to ask the landlord to sign forms to hand in to WINZ. Some landlords will not bother, because they may not like making agreements with beneficiaries, even though such discrimination is not allowed. They would be able to get away with it though by using other excuses.

    The system will be an administrative nightmare, and the case manager already overworked with dealing with extra reviews for unemployed, handling more medical certificates for sickness-beneficiaries, plus performing numerous other tasks now necessary as a consequency of the intro duction of Future Focus policies, will be even more stress. As we know WINZ does not get extra staff, as all departments have to operate within strict budgets.

    This new regime has more or less already been drawn up, and we are being drip fed.

    One day the unemployed, sick and disabled “job seekers” will all be work-tested, eventually housed in cheap, boarding house style accommodation (modern “poor houses”), forced to take up any “suitable” training, work or study. Any non complience will lead to benefit cuts and cancellations. Those that think this is harmless, do not understand the approach being used. It is the beginning of something bigger coming up.

    So if National will get voted back in again, this is what will be in store for all that will face losing their jobs for longer periods, that will be sick, disabled, a sole parent and depend on the state for support. We are possibly returning to the times of “poor houses”, “work houses” or “work shops” for the poor and incapacitated. Do not forget, Housing NZ will also throw thousands off waiting lists soon, who are deemed as not being in urgent need for such assistance!

    There is one hope though. The introduction of the payment cards may be illegal, because treating certain groups of people (based on age, illness or disability, or some other criteria written in law) in a discriminating way raises serious questions of law.

    Hence legal experts may soon raise this and deliver critical views re the plans by Key and consorts. The whole plan may be against the Human Rights Act and the NZ Bill of Rights Act anyway. This should be researched further, and opinions should hopefully flow in.

    • Colonial Viper 9.1

      Labour should lambast the NAT plan and present workable, fairer, dignified alternatives.

      • just saying 9.1.1

        Never going to happen. This hate campaign has been unchallenged for three long years now. Labour doesn’t care about beneficiaries. You know that CV.

        • HC 9.1.1.1

          A fair few of these “ideas” that National presents are not at all new, they had already been discussed amongst experts in the top echelons of MSD under the previous government, and some of course were suggested to MSD by experts from outside, who may have been commissioned to work on various projects.

          I may mention that the whole “advisory” regime under Principal Health Advisor and Principal Disability Advisor, who mentor, supervise and instruct Regional Health Advisors, Regional Disability Advisors and Health and Disability Coordinators (based in the Regional Offices of MSD) was established under Labour in 2007.

          They are involved in the now massive re-assessment of sickness and invalid’s beneficiaries, who under Future Focus are now en masse being down scaled according to new criteria, and eventually work tested.

          It is fair to say that they have provided a lot of advice to the top re how to reform the system re work testing for sickness beneficiaries and so forth.

          The MSD has a lot of staff that work on “improvements” internally, and ideas like the Payment Card may actually already have existed long ago under the previous government, but not yet been implemented. The MSD is a massive organisation and have their own “experts”, so National would to a fair degree rely also on knowledge, ideas and suggestions that were already in the making.

          It was under Labour that the idea of putting more emphasis on the ability of sickness and invalid’s beneficiaries to return to and to do some forms of work did already exist. Labour actually started reforms in this direction! The difference between Labour and National is though, that Labour did rather take the carrot approach, than the stick approach. National does now of course primarily focus on the stick approach.

      • insider 9.1.2

        Yeah I can really see them going into an election saying: ‘hey taxpayers, we think it’s a good idea that beneficiaries should be able to buy alcohol and tobacco with the money you provide.’

        That should attract what? Dozens of votes?

    • weka 9.2

      The privacy act too.
       

      Some beneficiaries may be able to get accommodation by not revealing that they live off a benefit. That will in future no longer be possible, because the landlord will need to deal with WINZ to arrange the direct payments. At least a tenant will have to ask the landlord to sign forms to hand in to WINZ. Some landlords will not bother, because they may not like making agreements with beneficiaries, even though such discrimination is not allowed. They would be able to get away with it though by using other excuses.
       

      I think there will be ways around this. They won’t be able to write into legislation that youth beneficiaries must have their rent paid direct to a landlord, because that would remove rights of privacy and in some cases deny youth access to benefits. So it will be at the policy level, and that’s always challengeable. As it stand currently, beneficiaries can refuse to give landlord details to WINZ eg where they can make a case that the landlord will discriminate against them if they find out they are on a benefit.

      • Deadly_NZ 9.2.1

        Yeah but if you get a handful of teens in a flat with nothing to do No money, tons of food, crappy tv, and a big sound system. They will just text a come, one come all, bring alcohol to all their mates have a huge open party. Alcohol to be supplied in return for for big feeds 500 turn up bringing enough alcohol to pickle the ark. House gets demolished in the ensuing mayhem. Police, Fire, and Ambulance are called 500 teens have caused millions of dollars in damage, and WINZ would be blamed, and would get the bill because they just decided to forget about the support, saved another 25 mil.

        Sounds far fetched??

        Tui Ad Time

    • Deadly_NZ 9.3

      I have a food card and it is way easier, than having to wait half a day or more to see someone (on an emergency appt), it’s way easier to use the call center ( until you have had 3 then you have to start through the budget advisor hoops, (and they can load the card immediately)) so you can use it at any pretty much most supermarkets and you can split your shopping over the three we have here in Levin. Also the old way was a signed piece of paper locking you into one supermarket, at least with the card you can chase the bargains. But to use it as a club to lock people into no cigs and no alcohol (as it should) but how long before the food police are let lose on the list, to come up with a ‘correct food list’ (Basically nothing allowed that Pudding Bennet would eat)

      • HC 9.3.1

        OK the payment card is acceptable in its present form – being used for shopping under the Special Needs Grant for food provision. I know that it is better than the credit letters they used before. But this card should not be allowed to replace the present system where beneficiaries get their total weekly benefit paid into bank accounts.

        Taking out the amount calculated for groceries and personal care items and only paying it out through these payment cards is unacceptable. It creates total inflexibilities, because the shopping is not the same each week, because certain items last longer and others less than a week.

        What can be acceptable to enforce that the payment card is issued to beneficiaries who have a record ob proven abuse of spending their money on non essentials, like for persons who have gambling, alcohol or drug issues and cannot manage properly without certain controls being put into place.

        That must be proved though, and the client should have a right to raise her or his points of view re the suggested steps by WINZ. That is natural justice.

        To simply make it a mandatory system of payment for certain age groups, or for all unemployed, sick or invalids on benefits, that is unacceptable, because it is unjustified and smells like discrimination (see Human Rights Act and NZ BORA).

        I should be challenged under the law if it ever is seriously implemented, and that is what I do expect.

        The same should apply with mandatory direct payments of rents or electricity or water charges. Such standard costs should be covered by the benefits paid into bank accounts and payed by clients themselves. Only if clients have a proven record of not being able to manage their expenses properly, then there may be a point to enforce such direct payments.

        • just saying 9.3.1.1

          Only if clients have a proven record of not being able to manage their expenses properly, then there may be a point to enforce such direct payments

          So, only those who have no other income, or loved ones who pay at least some of their bills then. Because if a person is living solely on the benefit there is no way they can manage their finances properly. There is simply not enough money.

          But that’s good because it means luckier and more well-connected benes would escape with a teeny bit of dignity.

          Maybe rioting and other violence are the only way that those at the bottom will ever be able to get listened to. And that would be really sad.

      • Treetop 9.3.2

        Deadly_NZ I do not think that the three is just food. I think think that it is any non recoverable SNG e.g. emergency tooth extraction.

        Hard to explain how they deduct what your discretionary food grant amount is as it is not a full entitlement amount each year, it is worked out as the balance in a 12 month period and the date shifts. A bit like what you have left to pay on a lay by is what you can apply for.

        • Treetop 9.3.2.1

          Just looked at the food grant in the SNG Programme and see that it is changed to not exceeding the amount you quailfy for in a 26 week period.

  10. William Joyce 10

    I wonder if the advisers to National suggested that benes in NZ should be treated like the aborigines of the NT?
     
    The approach is 

    Quarantining of a proportion of welfare benefits to all recipients in the designated communities and of all benefits of those who neglect their children

     
    Sound awfully familiar?

  11. Cin77 11

    I hate this idea. Whats it supposed to be teaching people? How to budget? Yes, I’m sure that will work. Taking the actual control of money away from someone is definitely going to show them how to budget. Or is it to scare people into employment that isn’t even there?

    And no one in power seems to be sticking up for the little guys! How loud do we have to yell to be heard?

    • Bill 11.1

      And no one in power seems to be sticking up for the little guys! How loud do we have to yell to be heard?

      And Labour have the gall to complain about the msm not listening to them! Kettle. Pot.

  12. aerobubble 12

    Does WINZ train its staff to deal with the agression and anger that has recently be seen
    in UK, or even in Hamilton where some girls strip and tortured a man, seems every
    day now government is attack youth rights. From driving, to we don’t trust youth to grow
    up fantasy cards. Did you know Hamilton has one of the highest populations of young people
    in NZ. Does National serious thin it can take West Hamilton in Nov?

    • HC 12.1

      Well, I don’t know about Hamilton, but here in Auckland just about every WINZ office I know of has a security guard at hand for any kind of “incident” at any time. I once saw a poor old Maori guy get treaspassed from an office, because he appeared a bit drunk and may have raised some issues. They called the cops who took him away. These security doods are not there for fun and for nothing. That tells you something about what goes on, because they are really afraid, because some beneficiaries, who got a tough deal, they really hate these guys working at WINZ.

      I have met some who had some real crazy ideas, and who knows, one day incidents like in London may happen here also.

  13. mik e 13

    Paula bennitto and lord haw haw have shot themselves in the foot over a letter

    • HC 13.1

      Yes, that is GOOD NEWS! And with a little bit more “fire” shot at her, I have some hope, that this silly enforced payment-card idea may indeed be put to rest after all. It was a very, very embarassing day for Don Key and Paula Pudding Belly Bennett today in Parliament! Have a look at question time on the Parliament website, or on Parliament TV at 10 pm tonight, if you have time and the chance to do so. It was quite delightful to see John Key and Phil Goff throw contradicting figures about youth unemployment at each other, and it was a total delight to see fat Bennett get hammered by Annette King later in the question time hour. No wonder it was the first item on TV3 news tonight. We need more days like this, and then – who knows, John Key may get his chance to retire at his holday home on Hawaii after 26 November.

  14. Campbell Larsen 14

    From Australia – where nonsense is already playing out, a glimpse of our future under a National govt:

    ‘WELFARE recipients could be segregated into different queues at shops under an ”apartheid system” that will force them to spend at least half of their money on essential items at government-approved retailers.

    Business groups have condemned a federal government plan to control the spending of up to 20,000 people across the country by effectively making them shop at a handful of the biggest retail chains. And the Law Council of Australia has warned that the change could be discriminatory.’

    http://www.smh.com.au/national/welfare-card-pays-out-on-poor-20110806-1igid.html

    • mik e 14.1

      It sounds like an Italian opera with Joyce insisting things must be done his way the holiday highway must be done just like bennitto mussolini built a dead straight motorway so he could drive to the beach.Now the Bennitto swipe card [food stamps] we could call it the Macabre.A couple of oxymorons in there for good measure.

  15. Descendant Of Smith 15

    I’m a little late pasting here but had to go back through a few things and do some checking.

    In the 80’s after interest rates went up to like 22.5% in my case and rents followed there were two quite strong attacks on beneficiaries – along similar lines to now.

    One was landlords wanting their rent taken out of beneficiaries payments and the other was the notion of control over what was being spent by individuals.

    As advocates back then a bit of a battle was fought with the local office over these things.

    Fortunately the OIA had come in and we used that to get copies of all the staff training manuals and policies. Today you have access to the same thing here:

    http://www.workandincome.govt.nz/manuals-and-procedures.html

    I can’t remember which advocate groups lobbied for this to be online but it’s great that it is. These are the policies and procedures for staff.

    Part of what we identified at the time was that it was illegal for someone to require someones benefit to be paid to them. In fact you can be fined for doing this.

    Section 82

    (3) Except as otherwise provided in this Act, every instalment of a benefit shall be paid to or on account of the beneficiary personally:

    provided that for good cause the chief executive may, in the chief executive’s discretion, direct that payment of the whole or any part of an instalment, or any number of instalments, be paid-

    (a) to or on account of some other person authorised by the beneficiary or, in the case of a beneficiary who lacks sufficient capacity in law, to any person appointed by the chief executive for the purpose of receiving it; or

    (b) with or without the consent of the beneficiary-
    (i) to any person in payment of the beneficiary’s lawful debts or other liabilities:
    (ii)to, or for the benefit of, the spouse or partner of the beneficiary or any dependent child or children of the beneficiary.

    So step one is by law benefits must be paid to you personally.
    Step two money can be paid to someone else only if good cause exists.

    This protects people on benefit from not only predatory landlords, debt collectors etc but also form overzealous or morally judgmental staff and politicians. The law itself clearly finds that people are capable of looking after and organising themselves.

    Section 84 offers further protection:
    Benefits to be inalienable

    (1)Subject to the provisions of the Family Benefits (Home Ownership) Act 1964, or the Child Support Act 1991 or the Student Loan Scheme Act 1992 and of section 82, no benefit shall be capable of being assigned or charged or of passing to any other person by operation of law.

    (2) Every person commits an offence, and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $100, who demands or accepts from any beneficiary any benefit order or any acknowledgement or undertaking where that demand, acceptance, acknowledgement, or undertaking would constitute a legal or an equitable assignment of or a charge upon any benefit if the benefit were capable of being legally assigned or charged.

    The government should never be the landlords or power companies or any other private businesses lackeys. There is no reason private enterprise should have any more call over a beneficiary income than they do over a waged or salary income.

    I wonder how many of these people supporting this are pissed off landlords who are chasing rent – including those political tossers suggesting this.

    Not surprisingly many of them own rental properties. Why the poor should be subject to more draconian rules than someone who actually has the money to pay things but doesn’t is beyond me.

    As for the comments about Labour not caring about the poor – I’ve made the point many a time that their political choice to increase NZS by $20-00 when they came into power but not benefits was shameful and remains so.

    The fact that they still won’t correct that says a lot about where they are at – simply National co-horts. There record is good in many areas but helping the poorest isn’t one of them.

    • HC 15.1

      Thanks for this!

      Yes, that link is useful, and it can be seen on the WINZ website, which rules and guidelines staff have to follow when handling various case management matters.

      It is also good to know the Social Security Act 1964 and relevant regulations.

      Due to the present plans of the government there is to be expected:

      a) a major rewrite of the Social Security Act 1964, or (more likely)
      b) a totally new Social Security Act, which will incorporate major recommendations by the WWG!

      So the law is likely to change – provided National wins the election and can form the next government. Most beneficiaries do not know details of the law, so they are easy targets for case managers and other staff working for MSD.

      The Manuals and Procedures online do not cover every instructions, guidelines and internal processes, because there is also the hierarchy of various advisors involved in decisionmaking now over health and disability issues, which was established under the previous government.

      1 Principal Health Advisor and 1 Principal Disability Advisor supervise, mentor and instruct a number of Regional Health Advisors, Regional Disability Advisors and Health and Disability Coordinators, who now have a lot of input in decisions regarding second opinions on medical conditions, regarding the way WINZ and MSD work with medical professionals and various treatment providers.

      The Act does not even mention those professionals working for WINZ and MSD, and it is very hard to get information about how they work, and what input they exactly have. Only very general information is available on the website.

      • Descendant Of Smith 15.1.1

        It sounds like you must be involved in some sort of advocacy work.

        Ultimately the decisions are reviewable and any evidence or opinion the department uses to make their decision should be supplied as part of that review, or individuals can request a copy of the relevant information used to make decisions under the Privacy Act.

        Using either of those options is quite a powerful in illuminating decisions.

        • HC 15.1.1.1

          Well I am not presently involved in advocacy work, but this may change. I am though involved in a legal matter that addresses some of the aspects mentioned. Also have I first hand experience with WINZ, having been a beneficiary, how they treat you, and what law is involved and can be helpful. I know it is quite a hard basket to deal with, but some of us are able to read it, understand it and maybe use it. Some lawyers I have spoken to, and some literature I have digested myself on law, have opened my eyes a bit. It is quite revealing and helpful to do all this. WINZ and MSD do like most government agencies and representatives play on the general ignorance of the people they deal with. Once you know what goes on, and once you take a strong position (backed up with relevant info and legal arguments), then they suddenly treat you very, very differently.

          Protests and other actions are good, and more of those are definitely needed. But sadly in the system we have, that alone may not be enough.

    • Bill 15.2

      Useful link DoS.

      Wish you hadn’t submitted it so late at night though. Almost missed it.

      One comment on the manuals and procedures though. I think I’m correct in saying that is only the departments own interpretation of the legislation. So it’s not where you want to be looking if you are challenging them. What you want is the legislation itself (which, unfortunately, is a pigs ear…a dogs breakfast…or whatever other what-dya-ma-call-it you’d apply to such a badly drafted and torturous to dissemble hodge podge.)

      The legisaltion does need to be over hauled. I believe Labour ran from it and put it in the ‘too hard’ basket. And so now it looks like we’ll get those nice Nats nuking it and leaving a legislative wasteland of despair behind.

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