Simon Collins reports in the NZ Herald that an Australian Company has been awarded a(pilot) contract to find work for Kiwis. They get a big sum of money for each Aucklander with “mental health” conditions or who is a sole parent, that they ssuccessfully get into employment for one year.
Beneficiary advocates are angry that an Australian company has emerged as the big winner in an experiment that will pay contractors up to $12,000 to help a sole parent or a person with mental health issues into paid work.
Sole parents are already contributing to the economy and social good by bringing up the next generation of Kiwis.
Forcing them into work is not helpful. It is part of the devaluing of the positive caring, nurturing and community work that people do within their own communities. Bringing in an overseas corporate to interfere with such activities, so that money can be made out of the people dislodged from their communties, is a fail in too many ways.
And it is part of an ongoing privatisation and globalisation of welfare.
Perth-company Advanced Personnel Management (APM) has won pilot contracts for people with mental health conditions in Auckland, Waikato, Christchurch and Southland, and for sole parents in the Bay of Plenty, Wellington, Nelson and Canterbury – more than any local agency in the Work and Income tender.
The company will make between $2250 and $12,000 for every person with a mental health condition in Auckland that it can place in a job if the person stays employed for a year. The fees vary depending on the number of hours the person works and whether their needs are classified as medium, high or very high.
The article repeats Paula Bennett’s spin about how many people have come off welfare as a result of her “punitive” reforms, and focuses on one or two individuals who have benefitted.
In the midst of the article there is this from people crticial of the privatised scheme:
Beneficiary Advocacy Federation co-ordinator Kay Brereton said the contracts should have gone to more local agencies such as the West Auckland Living Skills Homes (Walsh Trust), which won one of the mental health contracts, and the Kawerau Job Centre, which won a sole-parent contract.
“How can we see that moving people into work is going to be achieved without creating a community solution?” she asked.
Strive Community Trust chief executive Sharon Wilson-Davis said she did not bid for the contracts and allowed an existing sole-parent contract to end late last year because she felt it would be impossible to achieve the work placements required to earn fees under the new pilots.
“A lot of these people certainly want to work but sometimes you are better off to get them into further training,” she said.
“Otherwise if you push them into these low-paying jobs, then when those jobs go they are back in the same place.”
Sue Moroney has also been critical of Bennett’s job-focused policies, concerned that there is no focus on providing “real” jobs, with long term prospects and that pay fair wages and provide good working conditions.
“National’s policy of cutting people off benefits whether they have jobs or not is increasing child poverty and inequality.
“There have been instances of people having their benefits cut because they couldn’t get to a seminar 30kms away or there was a bureaucratic bungle within Work and Income – this is hardly a cause for celebration in a country that prides itself on fairness.
“We know that less than half of people coming of benefits each week are going into jobs. Unless the Minister can show that these 17,000 people have got decent jobs we have nothing to celebrate,” says Sue Moroney.
“There are still 35,700 more people on benefits now than there were in December 2008, when Labour was the Government.”
Simon Collins reports on the Perth company:
APM’s website describes the company as “the largest private sector provider of Australian Government funded vocational rehabilitation services and disability employment services”. It says New Zealand operations started in 2012 with vocational rehabilitation contracts with the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC).
AXA/AC&L – Insurance company
Yum Foods – Pizza Hutt, KFC, Taco Bell
AMP – financial services and investments
I imagine such businesses do help some job seekers and employers, but such services would be better provided from within beneficiaries’ own communities, and without the extra cost to profit-seeking corporations.
The focus should be on making the best provisions for people and communities, not on financial incentives for implementing a punitive welfare programme: a programme like those initiated by Paula Bennett, which pressure people into paid work, whether or not the jobs are good ones, or the best way of providing for each beneficiary.
And it should not be a scheme to siphon profits overseas to companies based outside NZ.
xtasy has posted a lot of useful details about conflicts of interest related to
the Aussie APM company referred to in the post Workwise (a business as part of the larger ‘Wise Group’) and re David Beaumont. Some extracts from xtasy’s comment:
I am not at all surprised about Workwise getting a contract, as they had ‘Strategic Policy Advisor’ sit on the “Health and Disability Panel” that MSD selected and appointed to “advise” on welfare reforms affecting sick and disabled. Helen Lockett is her name. See some onfo on her here:
Another one who advised MSD and was a senior member of the “Health and Disability Panel” that “advised” Paula Bennett and the government was Dr David Beaumont, a former ATOS employee from the UK, who has previously also made “reports” and “assessment recommendations” for ACC, and repeatedly advised the MSD. He has also a vested interest, running ‘Pathways to Work’ and ‘Fit for Work’:
And to open your eyes here a bit further, he has for years also been the ‘President Elect’ of the ‘Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine’: