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Welfare profiteers

Written By: - Date published: 10:23 am, January 22nd, 2014 - 32 comments
Categories: capitalism, paula bennett, poverty, Privatisation, same old national, welfare, workers' rights - Tags:

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.

Mothers are workers too

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).

social welfare not corporate welfare

The APM website is all corporate gloss with it’s slick sounding mission and values. It boasts of being, or having been, the preferred provider of various businesses, including:

AXA/AC&L – Insurance company

Yum Foods – Pizza Hutt, KFC, Taco Bell

AMP – financial services and investments

Optus/Supercheap (foods)

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.

corporat welfare social welfare

[Update] APM conflicts of interest

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’:

32 comments on “Welfare profiteers”

  1. just saying 1

    I recommend “The Little Pakeha’ blog for anyone who wants to know how WINZ is already making life for those with mental health disabilities who are reliant on a benefit untenable:

    http://www.thelittlepakeha.net/2014/01/21/the-modus-operandi-of-winz-tw/
    http://www.thelittlepakeha.net/2014/01/22/dont-read-between-the-lines/

    This new development will only increase the pressure on the thumbscrews for most affected people.

    If money is the bottom line – suicide can be regarded as “actuarial release” – if not to be actively encouraged, by such programmes, then certainly acceptable collateral damage

    • Bill 1.1

      Excellent links js. Thanks. Just picking out this short excerpt because I reckon it’s being echoed up and down the country every day in the thoughts of countless people.

      WINZ is killing me. I don’t know whether or not I mean that literally, but emotionally it’s true

      • just saying 1.1.1

        Thanks Bill.
        It’s worth putting up the preceding paragraph. As you say, echoed with slight variations up and down the country. And WINZ is crowing about adding even more pressure to this situation:

        It’s now been about six weeks of sending emails back and forth, consulting benefit rights advocates, writing letters requesting appeals, and waiting. Always waiting. During those six weeks I think I’ve spent more time crying than I had since I moved here. I’ve considered suicide. I have two plans that I know are workable and plausible. I’ve had to put food on my credit card because I was so low on fruit, or dairy, or meat, I’ve had days in a row where I wasn’t eating because I couldn’t even leave my room knowing anyone else was home, I’ve sat with my phone in my hand trying to ring crisis lines and not able to do so (see aforementioned trouble with phones). I’ve had fleeting fantasies of turning up at the WINZ office and doing… something, god knows what, that would convince them I need help. (Preferably financial, but practically more likely psychiatric or criminal.) I’ve sent long emotional emails to them. I’ve sat on Trademe poring through properties to rent that I’d never be able to afford on my current budget. Right now I’m on the first day of a “1-2 day” extenstion to a history essay I’ve been looking forward to writing for the whole summer semester. I’ve nearly hit the word count, but I can tell it’s mediocre, it’s shallow, it doesn’t explore the things I want it to. I still need to do all the citations. I can hardly look at it.

        WINZ is killing me. I don’t know whether or not I mean that literally, but emotionally it’s true.

  2. blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 2

    This is a bit gobsmacking really,

    Yes, it is good to hear that people in difficult situations are going to get more support – if the support is helpful that is.
    Why has an Australian company been employed? In what way does doing that help New Zealand interests? This takes jobs and money straight out of our country?!

    If the money being given to this Australian company was given directly to the people in tough situations, my guess is that there would be just as good success rate of people getting out of the difficult circumstances they are in.

  3. Tracey 3

    Would be tempting to slip cash to an interviewer to prefer their candidates?

  4. Bill 4

    So the bastards have finally gotten around to privatising aspects of welfare just like they have done on the UK. Naked profiteering on the back of poverty…atos – suicide – fraud.

    Wonder how long before a version of the UK’s ‘anti social behaviour orders’ gets rolled out so that poor people committing no jailable offence (eg -begging) can be slammed up in a private prison for breaking the conditions of their asbo so that profit can be generated from misery?

  5. Johnm 5

    Hi Bill
    +1
    Hi Just Saying
    +1 This is a major turn of the screw.
    It’s like Pilate washing his hands you’ve been turned over to a heartless, soulless corporation who’ll make money of your misery. Shame!

    Another means of harassment of the disadvantaged. The answer is a universal basic income for all. This will increase inequality in social status and money as well as subtly intimidating the recipients.

    Karol, just a note not “interfer” but “interfere”

    Plus this signifies an alienation of a citizen’s rights (as a member of the social political unity of a society, mutual care and responsibility: community,) into the powerlessness of an object for profit, it’s unkiwi and undemocratic.

  6. Michael 6

    Not all of our money handed over by NACT to foreign companies in return for them policing our beneficiaries will stay offshore: some of it is almost certain to wind up in the NACT slush funds (eg the Waitemata Trust), although a lot of that money will flow back out again into Crosby’s Textor’s pockets. Just how much of it the successful lottery winners are expected to kickback, in the form of political “donations” (anonymous, of course, under our hopelessly opaque laws), is anyone’s guess, apart from the donors and the trustees for the recipients.

  7. Will@Welly 7

    This has been what Key has been angling at for sometime – privatizing “social welfare”. Whether National get back in this year or not, is immaterial, the seeds of the privatization of social welfare have been sown.
    This Government is a continuum of the one in power between 1990 -1999. Labour failed to address National’s policies of that era. It must do so next time in office, it must gut all the dire legislation that National has past and is passing otherwise National will keep building on it’s past “successes”.
    In America, many workers had “benefits” built into their contracts, never expecting to be laid off, and if they were ever laid off, it would be a temporary situation. We now know, many have run out of “benefits”, even their state benefit is exhausted. We probably won’t be so lucky – we will have to buy our own social welfare insurance, much like ACC, but probably more expensive, and with a lot more “conditions”. This is the kind of “utopia” John Key wants to sell to New Zealand.

  8. Xtasy 8

    Quoted from Simon Collins’ Herald article:

    “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).”

    “NZ service delivery manager Karen Came said she could not speak because of confidentiality clauses in the Work and Income contracts.”

    “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.”

    So here we have the glossed over report on all this stuff! Only by writing according to the terms laid out by the Herald editors does Simon Collins now appear to be allowed to have pieces published.

    And he again uses selected, individual stories of affected, which tells us little about what goes on behind the scenes.

    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:

    http://nz.linkedin.com/pub/helen-lockett/25/1b/86b
    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/GE1305/S00096/employment-and-mental-health.htm
    http://www.workwise.org.nz/news

    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':
    http://www.pathwaystowork.co.nz/contact-us
    http://nz.linkedin.com/pub/david-beaumont/2a/780/943

    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':
    http://www.racp.org.nz/page/racp-faculties/australasian-faculty-of-occupational-and-environmental-medicine/realising-the-health-benefits-of-work/latest-news/

    The AFOEM wield a lot of influence on the medical profession and other key institutions and organisations, as they also set the agenda for new policies! The Royal NZ College of GPs will listen a lot to what they suggest and do. Most worryingly one of the main brains and movers behind the welfare reforms in the UK, Professor Mansel Aylward, was also very instrumental in influencing the AFOEM and lately the NZ government on their drive to “reform” welfare:
    http://www.racp.org.nz/page/racp-faculties/australasian-faculty-of-occupational-and-environmental-medicine/realising-the-health-benefits-of-work/may-2010-video-presentation-professor-sir-mansel-aylward
    http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/2012/09/09/professor-mansel-aylward-my-what-a-very-tangled/

    He has also his own “rehabilitation” business(es) that are operating together with DWP there!

    There is not that much I can find out about APM Workcare via their website, but it must be suspected they have played similar roles in Australia as the above and some other players have here in NZ, when trying to get favourable contracts.

    No surprise that their Delivery Service Manager does not want to talk about their operations to the media, due to “confidentiality clauses” with WINZ and MSD! Prepare yourselves that these players will be operation without being “bothered” by Official Information Act requests, as that will not apply to them! No question there, that this was intentional by MSD!

    To find out what really has been going on, and what the drive behind it all is – I once again recommend some serious study of this:
    http://accforum.org/forums/index.php?/topic/15264-welfare-reform-the-health-and-disability-panel-msd-the-truth-behind-the-agenda/
    http://accforum.org/forums/index.php?/topic/15188-medical-and-work-capability-assessments-based-on-the-bps-model-aimed-at-disentiteling-affected-from-welfare-benefits-and-acc-compo/
    http://accforum.org/forums/index.php?/topic/15463-designated-doctors-%e2%80%93-used-by-work-and-income-some-also-used-by-acc/

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

    The ROT sits deep, and yes, some that profiteer were instrumental to “convince” the NZ government to bring about these changes, that benefit them personally, also financially!

    So, we are waiting for David Cunliffe to perhaps raise concern about this in his speech on 27 January, are we?

    And to Kay Brereton: You should NOT even support these policies FULL STOP, thanks!

    • xtasy 8.1

      I find it absolutely ASTONISHING, that nobody seems to notice the “conflict of interest” scenarios I pointed out in my post above. Helen Lockett sitting on the ‘Health and Disability Panel’ “advising” the government on welfare reform and what to do, and then having her Wise Group business “Workwise” getting a contract with MSD, that is simply “astonishing”. Even Simon Collins does not raise these issues.

      And Beaumont has been at it for years, advising ACC and MSD, and he himself runs at least one major business, profiting from at least some cases referred to them by ACC and WINZ (although apparently not involved in this particular tender).

      Even Dr Bratt has certain “interests” in an addiction treatment service and more.

      But it is all about “personalities”, and what they do now, it being election year. Talk about New Zealand being one of the “least corrupt” countries. Maybe there is a fine line between “corruption” and “backroom deals” or “old boys” and “old girls networks” doing deals? Wherever “government” has their fingers in, there is also a temptation to influence professionals and others, to do what is preferred. And it works vice versa as it clearly shows.

      Perhaps also take a look at who pays and sponsors ‘Transparency International New Zealand’, who do make the recommendations regarding NZ for the international rankings that Transparency International publish:

      http://www.transparency.net.nz/2013/05/

      What a joke this is here! And do not get me started on the damned “commissioners” they appoint, like the useless Health and Disability Commissioner:

      http://accforum.org/forums/index.php?/topic/14923-health-and-disability-commissioner/

      • karol 8.1.1

        Thanks for all this detailed background and information re-the conflicts of interest, xtasy. I’ll update the post to link to your comment. These are important. You are right about the APM website not giving any crucial info – just a lot of gloss.

        • xtasy 8.1.1.1

          “xtasy has posted a lot of useful details about conflicts of interest related to the Aussie APM company referred to in the post.”

          Hi Karol – my info on conflicts of interest were rather re Workwise (a business as part of the larger ‘Wise Group’) and re David Beaumont, not really APM, as I have little info on them. Workwise did already do work for WINZ before, and they seem to have lobbied strongly for the government and MSD to consider this outsourcing. Lockett therefore seems to have acted as “advisor” and “sales person” – representing Workwise and the Wise Group.

          I am not sure whether APM will themselves do the actual work, perhaps they will sub-contract to another local player in this new “business”?

          But thanks for doing an ‘update’.

  9. Draco T Bastard 9

    Let It Bleed: Libertarianism and the Workplace

    What makes the private sector, especially the workplace, such an attractive instrument of repression is precisely that it can administer punishments without being subject to the constraints of the Bill of Rights. It is an archipelago of private governments, in which employers are free to do precisely what the state is forbidden to do: punish without process. Far from providing a check against the state, the private sector can easily become an adjutant of the state. Not through some process of liberal corporatism but simply because employers often share the goals of state officials and are better positioned to act upon them.

    One does wonder why the government is bringing in private sector corporations to do the work that the government should be doing – if it was work that needed to be done which, quite simply, doesn’t appear to be the case. Creating more work opportunities would work far better than punishment.

  10. captain hook 10

    The thing to remember is that the National Party are psychologically disposed to bashing people up legally and tapping into that stream of oiks that want to get away with it too.

  11. AsleepWhileWalking 11

    Why the hell can’t they fix the Work and Income system for disabled before rolling this out?

    FACT: Doctors up and down the country are insisting that they “can’t sign” for disability expenses that exceed $60 a week. This is causing massive issues for severely disabled and those with multiple disabilties. The message from the medical community is clear, starve or suffer you disabled fuckwits. That message carries to those disabled people who are working as they also qualify below a certain income level. Thanks Doc!

    FACT: There is no theoretical upper limit to the amount of disability costs payable, although after the first $60 a week it will usually be picked up under a different supplement (TAS).

    The widespread misinformation has served it’s purpose which appears to be saving $ while increasing discrimination against disabled on low incomes.

    Bitching at disabled people, in particular those with mental health issues to get jobs while deliberately failing to provide accurate information to doctors (how hard would that be?) so that disabled cannot get essential costs related to disability met could only originate with a far right government.

    I would have thought the most logical use of money is to support disabled in recovery by providing proper $ to cover disability related costs.

  12. Rosie 12

    karol, thanks for the compassionate and informative people focused articles you have provided in the last few days. This article is the saddest.

    There’s been talk of how the UK welfare system functions and the effect of ATOS on people (thanks Johnm and others) but to see a form of the privatisation of welfare happening here, now, is really upsetting.

    To outsource our welfare “services” to a (foreign) company to profit from the kickbacks it receives from its “services” to WINZ is sick. Now a beneficiary has a price on their head, they are now a commodity. Congrats Nat Govt, you have reached a new low in your reign.

    If this is a pilot scheme, then lets hope it when it reaches the end of it’s contract it isn’t renewed. We should have a new government by then…………….

    • Johnm 12.1

      Hi Rosie
      “Now a beneficiary has a price on their head, they are now a commodity. Congrats Nat Govt, you have reached a new low in your reign.”
      +1

  13. TightyRighty 13

    but it’s ok if the funding goes to local agencies is what you are saying? whether or not they actually achieve any tangible results. gotcha. xenophobia – check

    • Rosie 13.1

      You’re not using the reply button so I don’t know who you’re talking to TR. I’m guessing it might be me because your comment is after mine.

      I don’t think there’s much to misunderstand in my comment but you seem to have. To clarify: This isn’t “funding”, it’s profiteering out of people’s misery. Secondly the responsibility for “tangible results” lies with our government, not a company. Furthermore, NZer’s should be responsible for NZer’s, so that means WINZ and community based organisations, as long as they aren’t operating on a business model., ie, they exist to create profit, profit is their bottom line.

      What is up with you RWer’s screeching “Xenophobia!” any time any one questions the involvement of an oversea’s corporate in our affairs? Or do you think it’s awesome that, say, Hollywood has the power to get our Govt to over ride our employment laws, or say, that Big Oil has the power to get our Govt to “adjust” our protesting at sea laws?

    • framu 13.2

      didnt realise that that idea of the govt choosing local over off shore was xenophobia these days

      fucks sake tight pants – thats rather OTT, even for you. Its almost nth korean in its reframing

      “whether or not they actually achieve any tangible results” – thats you just making something up to try and add weight to a really dumb statement

      theres three issues here
      1) is it wise to spend tax dollars in aussie if we can do it here for a comparable price?
      2) is it wise to think an overseas outfit will have the same level of “on the ground” knowledge and experience of NZ?
      3) is it wise to give contracts to people who appear to be involved in the policy process that came up with the idea?

      nb: just keeping it about the $$ here – not looking at the issues rosie mentions above

  14. JonL 14

    Aaaahhhhh APN………..hooked up with Centrelink over here (same as WINZ)

    that useless pack of sods……..

  15. Murray Olsen 15

    First prisoners were turned into commodities, now beneficiaries. If these Randian superheroes were as good as they claimed at making profits, why would they need so much government help? They are the real bludgers, and SERCO, APM, and the likes should be expelled from the country. Anyone complaining that this was xenophobic would be welcome to go with them.

    • Xtasy 15.1

      They work together like the Mafia with their favoured “service deliverers” (“a body was found on the banks of the river last night”, “nobody knows what happened”).

      WINZ, MSD and the government get “rid” of a “costly burden”, and on a cost benefit ratio, at least in the short therm, it is “profitable” or “positive”.

      The provider gains and the government agencies gain. The “commodity” has no say, and is shafted, no matter how it pans out. Slave your way through, or die. Either way, it will “pay” or “save costs”. A WINZ funeral is the cheapest you can get, I do not know, whether it is in a cardboard casket, or whether it is simply an old blanket wrapped around. If a true coffin is chosen, the relatives or friends will have to foot the rest of the bill.

      http://www.workandincome.govt.nz/individuals/a-z-benefits/funeral-grant.html

      The “books” look better, and “Blinglish” will show them with delight, to entice his favoured voters, to give them another term.

      Morality and true responsibility is an “alien” word to them.

      Long live our dear leader, John Key, hail, hail hail, HEIL, HEIL, HEIL!

    • McFlock 15.2

      sigh
      it’s all so fucking depressing sometimes

      • Xtasy 15.2.1

        Tell Cunliffe and others, and challenge them, the fight must go on, it just started, we must get the message through, to those that usually get inundated with info and who may “miss” these important bits. Even the media is failing day in and out, keep hammering, keep raising issues, and make them aware of the info here, as their thick heads seem to still not get it, unless they are the enemy themselves.

        Fight and fight, and keep fighting, there is NO alternative, there is none for me, it is to finally get the message through, or die, none else.

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