A Punitive Climate of Fear

Written By: - Date published: 1:59 pm, January 9th, 2015 - 64 comments
Categories: economy, health, human rights, Politics, quality of life, Social issues - Tags: , ,

Disability covers a multitude of conditions and states from birth defects to mental illness, from paralysing accidents to workplace malfeasance.

Whatever the reason for a person’s disability if it is to such an extent that they cannot work we condemn them to a life of subsistence living with a big pay rise when, and if, they reach retirement age to 65% of the average wage.

These folks cannot pull themselves up by their bootstraps, work harder or smarter and gain the golden egg dangled before everyone else. Yes, they can receive state support but so did John Key and Paula Bennett. Neither were disabled. Both used it as a platform to create a life for themselves that can only be described as thriving. Those who cannot stand on their own two feet (many literally) get to scrape by at the behest of a WINZ office implementing the policy from above. Unlike John Key and Paula Bennett, they cannot advance their own circumstances without significant intervention and support. Even then we basically say to them;

“sorry you are afflicted and can’t work but we will add to it by giving you worry and stress about how to house yourself, pay your bills and survive a simple event like getting to the supermarket. Forget extras, or “nice to haves”, like a trip to another town to visit family or new clothes rather than stuff from the Sallies. Oh and if that isn’t enough we will dump you off your benefit due to sanctions and regularly question you to see if you are faking.”

ACC is available to those who become disabled through injury. They will build ramps to your home, adapt your car, put in wider doors in your home and pay you 80% of your salary before your injury.

But, if you were born disabled, you get a disability allowance. If your family are poor they can help you in terms of your physical needs until your needs require financial input or their backs fail from lifting you.

The UK introduced a benefits sanctions scheme a couple of years ago. So did NZ.

Perhaps we need to pay very close attention to the UK. First Key, then Cameron, now Abbott, clones all.

In recent days in the UK, people from food bank administrators to disabled groups have been urging MPs to ditch it.

www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jan/08/benefit-sactions-government-urged-suspend-vulnerable

Sanctions are a suspension of your payments for various job seeking criteria including not trying hard enough to find work, failing to attend an appointment.

Sound familiar? But not just sanctions are driving disabled people off support, so are other more duplicitous policies in the UK.

The Guardian last year published an article about the removal of the independent living allowance which impacted 20,000 people and ended up in Court. The article makes some interesting observations about the political motivation behind the decision which was hidden until the Court hearing.

In court 28 of the Royal Courts of Justice this morning, a decision was reached about the independent living fund. Worth £320 million a year, it’s currently controlled by the Department for Work and Pensions and intended to ensure that 20,000 people with severe disabilities can live as independently as possible. Following a consultation last year, the government announced that it was going to scrap it…

Challenged on the basis that consultation was insufficient the Judge ruled that as long as the Minister was aware of the implications it amounts to consultation.

That you could trample on whoever you liked so long as you were aware of which people you were trampling, and how severely?

But getting back to court 28. It’s an inaccessible courtroom, so the people who brought the action couldn’t get into the room to hear the verdict. I know, yet more leftie bleating – when am I going to just face the fact that this country is out of money and we can no longer afford for disabled people to be pandered to with their ceaseless demands for ramps and handrails and other apparatus which, in fact, already exists elsewhere in the Royal Courts of Justice. …

Louise Whitfield, of the solicitors’ firm Deighton Pierce Glynn, said of the verdict: “We would have expected the judge to grapple with the public sector equality duty more, it’s such an important issue. We’re talking about 20,000 people. It’s quite unusual to have a judgment like this. I have not had a judgment before where I have found it difficult to understand the reasoning.”

But politics often finds a way round judicial verdicts, and it’s towards politicians rather than judges that our ire should be directed. Certain points must be underlined. The first is that the closure of this fund runs utterly counter to any promise from any party in any manifesto, under the guise of austerity or anything else. Nobody said “we will claw public money back from the severely disabled”. Even politicians who make it their rhetorical stock-in-trade to portray disability as an elaborate benefit scam would not, indeed could not, be open about withdrawing money from people already wrestling with such disadvantage. So it’s important to keep talking about this: if a measure is so shaming that politicians won’t even broach it, yet it passes through anyway, it would be to all our shame if that went unremarked.

Second, the DWP lied about the purpose of closing the independent living fund. It didn’t admit that the money wouldn’t be there after 2015 until it was legally required to. Whenever this government comes out with an idea that sounds, for British politics, unusually unjust or barbaric or ill-conceived, it usually has its roots in the US (free schools, food stamps, dash for gas, shares for rights, privatisation of health services). What I mind the most is the readiness with which the government will now lie: the prime minister will lie about the national debt; the secretary of state will lie about immigration, the chancellor will lie about benefit claimants, they’ll be rapped over the knuckles by the Office for National Statistics or Office for Budgetary Responsibility, take their punishment and go straight out and lie again. So, in the words of Nicholas Tomalin, talking about politicians in a (real) war: “Never forget that they lie, they lie, they lie.”

Third, this is not about the money. A government that is prepared to spend £1bn on tax breaks for high earners’ nannying costs is not cutting £320m for practical reasons but for ideological ones. They want to shrink government, starting with those most in need. There must be Conservatives who are disgusted by this; they need to start making more noise.

Fourth, and related, this will probably end up costing more – another thing to emerge during the case is this warning: “Users are unlikely to receive the same level of funding after reassessment. This may undermine care packages and may mean that some users, such as those with particularly high care packages, may not be able to live independently in their own homes.” Louise Whitfield said, almost as if accustomed to a certain legal detachment and taken by surprise: “We are very, very worried about our claimants and what will happen to them if they lose their care. But here, you have to focus on the process”. The claimants have announced their decision to appeal…

www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/apr/24/disability-ruling-new-depths-dishonesty

They lost their appeal

www.theguardian.com/society/2014/dec/08/disabled-men-lose-high-court-bid-stop-closure-independent-living-fund

There are too many articles and research documents in NZ and the UK to refer to here but this one, from 2013 in NZ is worth a read

www.cpag.org.nz/news/media-release-benefit-sanctions-need-monitoring/

If a society is judged by how it treats its weakest link, its most vulnerable, then we are all failing.

64 comments on “A Punitive Climate of Fear”

  1. Al66 1

    Here I was thinking John Key’s NashNil Tory Administration was fascist for a number of reasons, mainly policy and legislation decisions – but what is going on in the UK is hard to believe. Hard because I wouldn’t have thought the British people would have bent over for this sort of ideologically driven claptrap. Nevertheless it is happening, although the fact it is happening under a Tory administration should be no surprise.

    • tracey 1.1

      Al66

      The point is that apart from the independent living wage cut, defended through the courts by the UK government, the situation here IS identical.

      it has to be done hand in hand with a campaign strategy to dehumanise welfare recipients as mostly bludgers, lazy or scamming. Then the public is happy to turn a blind eye.

  2. “..Perhaps we need to pay very close attention to the UK. First Key, then Cameron, now Abbott, clones all…”

    this has been clear to me..for quite a while..

    (this is my archive on this stuff..)

    http://whoar.co.nz/?s=tory+benefit+cuts

    has some interesting stuff..including the tale of how paula bennett ate her loved childhood-pets..)

    • tracey 2.1

      Well done for focusing on the plight of the disabled Phil, now what to do about it?

      • phillip ure 2.1.1

        get rid of the tory bastards here there and everywhere..

        ..but then of course..following that multi-country pattern pattern..in britain..milliband has laid out his plans for cutting support to the young unemployed…if he gets elected..

        ..and labour here have been no different…

        ..clark also not only didn’t help..she also cut/ended support-options for the poorest..(at the time..she stated it was in her pursuit of that neo-lib ideal/chimera..

        ..the level-playing field..)

        ..and labour went into last election promising nothing for the poorest/worst off..

        ..zip..zero..nada..

        ..so..labour-education has to go along with that shedding of tories..

        ..but i’m not holding my breath..

        ..they are as bad as each other..

        ..a pox on both their houses..

        • The Al1en 2.1.1.1

          Sorry for the off topic. If you want to move the post I wouldn’t be offended.

          “..milliband has laid out his plans for cutting support to the young unemployed…if he gets elected….and labour here have been no different…”

          http://campaign.labour.org.nz/youth_employment

          “Labour will:

          commit $183 million to a comprehensive Youth Employment Package to ensure all New Zealanders under the age of 20 are in work, education or training,”

          “get young New Zealanders off the unemployment benefit and into apprenticeships by paying the equivalent of the dole to employers willing to offer a permanent full time job,”

          Hardly cutting support to the young unemployed is it?

          “..they are as bad as each other..”

          http://campaign.labour.org.nz/social_development
          http://campaign.labour.org.nz/all_our_announced_policies

          Fact check?

          • DoublePlusGood 2.1.1.1.1

            I think a lot of us here have problems with Labour’s general inability to actually be a left wing political party, for reasons such as you provide above.

            • The Al1en 2.1.1.1.1.1

              So what bit of “comprehensive Youth Employment Package to ensure all New Zealanders under the age of 20 are in work, education or training” is it that you don’t like? And why isn’t it left wing? Wasn’t labour always the workers party?

        • Tracey 2.1.1.2

          so you propose do nothing til the next ballot box?

          • phillip ure 2.1.1.2.1

            @ tracey..

            ..i have no influence/role within the labour party..

            ..it is for them to reach these conclusions..

            ..and to do what needs to be done..

            ..and hey..!..@ 5.00 -5.30 am every day i start work on compiling the only progressive news-aggregation site in this part of the world..

            ..i am in the business of spreading those progressive ideas..(those ones that labour..going on their record up until now..seem to have forgotten..’poverty.?..not our business..!’..)

            ..and i feel that is the best use of the skills i have developed/learnt..

            ..(i am crap at waving placards and shouting slogans..each has their place..)

            ..that yr own blinkers stop u from looking at what is right under yr nose..(and u ain’t alone’..)..is a loss for both of us..

            ..so..in summary/answer to yr question..

            ..i already ‘do quite a bit’ each/every day..i feel..

            ..what i can..anyway..

      • Ross 2.1.2

        Tax the rich. Pay the poor.

        • The Al1en 2.1.2.1

          I like it. Can’t beat a bit of redistribution of wealth, as long as it doesn’t go the other way.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1.2.2

          I think it would be far preferable to enable higher wages and let the rich pay the poor directly.

          Pre-distribution.

      • Chris 2.1.3

        The first thing is to start calling out some of the larger disability groups. At the moment they’re dancing between calling themselves human rights advocates for the disabled on the one hand, and climbing various distances up government’s backside to preserve service provision funding contracts on the other (under which they often pay workers the minimum wage so it’s a doubly hypocritical).

        • Rosemary McDonald 2.1.3.1

          @Chris.

          “The first thing is to start calling out some of the larger disability groups. At the moment they’re dancing between calling themselves human rights advocates for the disabled on the one hand, and climbing various distances up government’s backside ..”

          The correct term, I’m reliably informed, is “buttsnorkelling”.

          I am so glad someone raised this issue. DPA NZ in a statement on their FB page declared that the days of activism are gone (though there is still room for advocacy) (brackets theirs). They are now having conversations with the government and ministries.

          Like equals?

          Dream on.

          We are now informed that these ‘disability groups’ are the representative voice of the disabled.

          Judging by the performance so far, (from the excecutive), we are in the deepest of shit.

          Follow the money.

          • Chris 2.1.3.1.1

            I’ve had first hand experience dealing with some of these gutless twats from these people’s head offices and all I can safely say is that despite constantly talking about human rights they know nothing about human rights, and that even if they did they’d have no intention of ever operating in a way that was truly based on human rights values. Heck, if they did, they’d be risking their very own existence. Without the rights of the disabled being trampled on some of these quite large disability groups would feel quite lost. It’s no wonder why they have no intention of getting too close to real change. Pricks.

            • Rosemary McDonald 2.1.3.1.1.1

              My partner and I had a silent protest at the Health and Disability conference in June last year. (aside here; why oh why do they hold this disability specific conference in the middle of fucking winter???)
              Anyway, we held up our wee signs demanding that contracted providers who cause the deaths of disabled people in their care face criminal charges.

              We arrived early and took up our post opposite the rego desks and the main entrance to the room.

              Standing and sitting quietly holding up our wee signs, and most people ignored us.

              Yes, we did get some excellent support from the rank and file…but the executive? Forget it. They looked right through us. Even the help elves at the rego desk ignored us.

              Until Tariana Turia not only stopped and spoke with us…but mentioned us in her opening speech(a mate ducked out to tell us).

              Well bugger me if we didn’t suddenly become the flavour of the day.
              Even the Commisioners themselves stopped for a chat. All very intense.
              We even had our photos taken!!!

              But not one glance from you know who and associates. Not one.

              *I am usually scathing of Tariana Turia. However, face to face, kanohi ki kanohi, she was warm and attentive and got our point. And maybe respected the fact that we made the effort to speak up for the ‘neglected to death’.

              Unlike others.

  3. weka 3

    It’s rare for ts to have dedicated discussion about disability (thanks Tracey!). Can we please not have this be another round of bickering and personal agendas?

    • The Al1en 3.1

      You’re an inspiration, love. Well done.

      I wrote this some time ago, but not one reply to the comment.

      Open mike 15/03/2013

      15 March 2013 at 9:22 am

      “People on invalidity benefits, those people who suffer enough already, should never have to worry about money. A clear policy statement should read ‘you want anything, let us know. Otherwise just sit back and take it easy, we got your backs.’”

      • Sacha 3.1.1

        ” A clear policy statement should read ‘you want anything, let us know. ”

        Believe me, it would be cheaper than a whole system designed to distrust people about their lives. Most people are decent.

        • The Al1en 3.1.1.1

          Yes, most are.

          And where invalids are concerned, it’s not like people will deliberately injure themselves for life to claim a benefit that isn’t enough to live on.

          • Sacha 3.1.1.1.1

            Or in my experience ask for anything more than they need.

            • The Al1en 3.1.1.1.1.1

              I hear you.

            • Rosemary McDonald 3.1.1.1.1.2

              I would love to agree with you Sacha….but….some do demand more than they need….and often get it.

              The squeaky wheel prevails.

              And some do pretend and/or exaggerate impairment…especially with children. I have seen this, and it infuriates me. Not only are resources unecessarily allocated, but the child is labled and pigeonholed, often for life.

              Again, there is money in them there ills.

              • Sacha

                The access systems, especially for education support, encourage overstating of need by applicants. Asessors then try to find reasons to deny it, to stay within their tightly-rationed budgets.

                There will always be some people who game any system, but that should not mean everyone being treated like an undeserving bludger – unless we want to create many jobs for people who say no. It’s not a wise use of funds.

  4. Delia 4

    Well we have known about this for a long time and we fear for our own disabled people as National do borrow their ideas from them. Would love to hear the National supporters so vocal on here at times, tell us what they think about it.

    • Tracey 4.1

      exactly

    • @ delia..they ‘don’t care’..i know it’s hard to understand..if you do have empathy for the worst off..

      ..but from key down…these people just ‘do not care’..

      ..they believe that this is not societies role..to care for those who need it..

      ..that it is their fault they are there in the first place..

      ..a little less tax to pay weighs much more to them than such trifles as child-poverty..

      ..( a lot of them follow the determinist-philosophy of ayn rand..

      ..this they feel gives them an intellectual base to justify their greed/selfishness/uncaring..

      ..rand was/is ‘don’t care’ writ large as an imperative..

  5. One Anonymous Bloke 5

    It pretty clear that the agenda is to destroy the mechanisms set up to help people, from ACC to income support. The motive is money: to render governmental support useless so as to make privatisation look good by comparison.

    The best Left wing response I can think of is to treat human rights abuses as crimes and prosecute the individuals who perpetrate them, whether they were just following National Party orders or not.

  6. Rosemary McDonal 6

    The NZ equivalent to…

    “The ILF system was set up in 1988 to tackle the barriers to independent living and working faced by the most severely disabled people, which were not adequately addressed by council provision with its focus on meeting basic needs.”

    (from your link Tracey) … would be Individualised Funding, Enhanced Invidualised Funding and the Choices In Communitiy Living programme.

    All with pretty much the same happy clappy promotion.

    From what I understand, the UK version (like the NZ version kinda does) is supposed to give the disabled person more choices in how thei ‘budget’ is spent.
    They can opt to hire their own carers and support staff(like our IF), and like our EIF can source and purchase equipment etc.

    Prior to the ILF system, these functions were performed by the local council, who would hire your staff and choose your equipment.

    As is the nature with disability…one size does NOT fit all.

    So ILF allowed folk to sort their own shit out.

    However…(and somewhere around there is a research paper on this) this scheme caused a bit of a stir amoungst the service providers contracted to the councils.
    It turned out, that given the choice which ILF provides, disabled folk opted out of contracted service provision in their droves.
    Putting the sustainability of those PLODS at risk.

    If the care provided by the UK providers is anything like the care provided here ( and plenty of Parklands and Te Roopu Taurimas over there) then no wonder they quit the ‘security’ of contracted service provision.

    One of the reasons I suspect that our government shafted us on the Family Carers issue.

    • weka 6.1

      What do you mean by ‘contracted service provision’?

      • Rosemary McDonal 6.1.1

        http://www.demos.co.uk/files/At_your_service_-_web.pdf?1256725103

        An interesting wee piece from 2009.

        Seems giving ‘service users’ control over their own ‘budgets’ was forcing the service providers to adapt to meet the changing ‘market’.

        Service Provision is big business. Big, multi national business.

        “Lucrative”, in fact

        http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10679855

        And they will move heaven and earth to ensure all of the many $$$$ allocated for health and disability supports goes through their books.

        • weka 6.1.1.1

          Are you talking about the agencies (NZ)? Or the workers that clients contract in via IF? I’m assuming the former. The agencies have been creaming off the system for a long time (when was that system set up? late 90s?). If the MoH funds a client at something like $23/hr, and the agency pays the worker $15/hr, that’s a big chunk going into admin.

          • Rosemary McDonald 6.1.1.1.1

            “… If the MoH funds a client at something like $23/hr, and the agency pays the worker $15/hr, that’s a big chunk going into admin.”

            Loud belly laugh here….

            Last time I looked, MOH; DSS were funding IF at $25 per hour. The funding per hour to the Contracted Providers for Home and Community Support Services was also $25 per hour. IF was designed for those disabled people who did not ‘fit’ the service model from the Contracted Providers. MOH;DSS threw the $$$ at the DP on a sort of ‘sort your own shit out’ basis….but…with so many conditions on how and what and who the $$$ can be used for….the uptake was low.

            Now, I am not sure, but I think the $per hour rate for the Contracted Providers has gone up. There is, I understand, a sliding scale of rates depending on what type of care/support is being provided. Because these are Contracted Providers, as opposed to government departments, they are not subject to the OIA….they do not have to disclose anything about their ‘business’…even though it is funded through the taxpayer.

            Very clever. The government has distanced itself from the disabled person by contracting out core services, and those service providers are protected by business friendly legislation.

            Neo liberalism has cut its teeth on the disabled in this country…and further government contracting out of core services to business will probably be based on the ‘sucess’ of the disability/healthcare model.

            More loud belly laughs here…..

    • Sacha 6.2

      “One of the reasons I suspect that our government shafted us on the Family Carers issue.”

      You can read Rosemary’s post on that here:
      http://publicaddress.net/access/family-carers-case-five-years-on/

    • Tracey 6.3

      thanks for your contribution Rosemary. Much appreciated.

  7. coaster 7

    The thing that bugs me the most about this, is that it is just putting pressure and stress on people who already have a huge amount to cope with.
    I have a friend who a cronic illness that will never get better, this person battles constantly with one thing after another, hes had this condition since birth, and yet he still has to go through the assessment process on a regular basis to make sure he still needs a benefit.

    on another matter, on the west coast we are loosing alot of health services, so now peolle have to travel over the southern alps (great fun in winter) for basic appointments. Awesome if you have an inflammitary bowell disease, all just for a 10 minute appointment.

    there are very limited orthopedics on the west coast now, so we have kids with broken arms, dislocated shoulders travelling 3.5 hours to christchurch for something that should be done locally(off topic I know).

    But back to the point I think I was trying to make, people with disabilitys need to have there situations looked at individually as blanket rules dont work, it will be harder for those with no family support, or those living rurally , likewise some people can cope better with there conditions than others with the same conditions.

    • Tracey 7.1

      nzers should feel collective shame shame for the failure of health service provision on the coast of both islands

  8. BassGuy 8

    A friend of mine has Crohn’s disease, and was unemployed for some time. His dealings with WINZ bordered on the hilarious, if they weren’t such bold declarations of incompetence, arrogance, and carelessness.

    He’d be ordered to report for an interview with staff, so he’d turn up dutifully, only to be told that no interview had been booked. He’d get a phone call the following day demanding to know why he hadn’t turned up to his initial interview.

    When he did manage to attend an interview, the woman behind the desk appeared to think he was exaggerating about his Crohn’s, and told him that he just shouldn’t tell anybody about it, whatever it took to get a job. Another one told him that they have a cure for that, and his specialist didn’t know what he was talking about.

    Forms and paperwork would be sent for completion, and then lost after submission – or just not sent out at all. He had one particular set of forms, doctor’s letters, and witnessed supporting documents lost no fewer than five times. Each time he was told that he must have not sent it in.

    He’d be instructed to fill out forms and bring them along to an interview, then at the interview he’d be told that he had filled out the wrong forms. On another occasion, he was told that forms weren’t required, but a few days later he got a phone call demanding the paperwork that had been discarded by WINZ staff.

    My dealings were a bit better, although once I injured myself while working temporary/part-time. WINZ sent me to my doctor for evidence, then sent me to an independent doctor for verification. A few days after that, my case manager rang me and said to me that she was very sorry, and I wasn’t going to believe it but they needed me to go back to my doctor and get certification there.

    Back to my friend with Crohn’s. He had a lot of trouble finding work, as private employers would be almost dry-humping his leg to hire him right up until they found out that he has Crohn’s. In a remarkable coincidence they’d suddenly discover that he didn’t quite have the right experience that they were looking for, good luck and thanks for your time, sorry it didn’t work out!

    Eventually, he did find work at a university working in a technical capacity, and he’s earning quite a bit of money.

    • Foreign Waka 8.1

      My compliments to the season and great respect to your friend who after all this seem to not lost his/her humor. I personally think that the behavior of the WINZ people are a definite case for the human rights commission and would urge anybody treated like that do seek redress. If these cases of ill treatment are not brought out into the open, all seems to be fine – but is it?

      • BassGuy 8.1.1

        I agree that people should go to the HRC over WINZ behaviour. I recall reading somewhere that people were taking photos of them handing the documents over to staff, getting signed receipts, that sort of thing.

        The cynic in me can imagine that a policy would be put in place preventing people from doing so, although I can’t imagine how they’d justify it.

    • Tracey 8.2

      the discrimination is, as you point out, not just bureaucratic but amongst kiwis in the workplace. If an employer must be subsidised to encourage them to take people on, then we need to do it. feeling valued is not the domain only of abled bodied and well… health problems, including depression ravage many receiving disability benefits.

      • Sacha 8.2.1

        Public agencies should not require bribes to take on disabled employees, yet that is what we do.

        I’d rather see the money go to ongoing personal development/coaching of disabled workers and their workmates and managers – alongside the very few adjustments most workplaces need.

  9. Sacha 9

    Remember this NZ government made a campaign promise to reduce the number of people on benefits by a quarter. Now how do you think they plan to achieve that?

    • Murray Rawshark 9.1

      With a job creation scheme, pay beginning at the living wage level?

      Probably not, so what’s another option? Hmmm. Making it so difficult to be a beneficiary (see 8) that they just give up? The way they run WINZ seems designed to achieve the latter option.

    • Rosemary McDonal 9.2

      Uncle Bill had a plan from waay back….

      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10644993

      However, he got a few things wrong.

      One,….”If they were ACC customers, we would be spending a lot of money on trying to move them. They cost a bit less on sickness and invalids [benefits], not a hell of a lot less, ”

      Complete and utter bullpuckey. ACC spends shitloads more per person on supports for its clients than do the DHB’s and MOH; DSS. Shitloads…especially when it comes to physiotherapy and other active rehab. ACC will do considerably more to facilitate employment for those with disabilities.

      However..if ACC takes a disliking to you….heavens forbid…you up the proverbial and down the road to WINZ.

      Uncle Bill, in this article, is making a declaration of war on the “cunning chief executives defending their budgets.”

      “”The traditional view of the public service is when things get tight, Treasury and the Minister of Finance are responsible. We are saying ‘no it’s you, you’re the chief executive, you’re responsible’.”

      Well, Hi Di Hi campers, what a brilliantly constructive way to get alongside the Public Service. Get the backs up good and proper.

      And the first groups targetted for the newly honed razors of the Public Service?

      Yep, “…. long-term invalids and sickness beneficiaries, a group he describes as “this big hard lump of long-term waste of human potential”.”

      Understood Bill.

  10. coaster 10

    Long term invalids and sickness beneficierys are people that from my experience are tough as old boots, and dont give up easily. They put up with crap that the rest of us would struggle to cope with.

    they could teach the rest of us alot about perseverance, patience and mental fortitude.

    Sadly the right seem to only value people by there earning potential, not on what they can offer society.

  11. adam 11

    A few points Tracey.

    First – Thanks for a great post.

    Second – ACC – mmm I wish it was there to help I really do. But, it is fast turning into another putative branch of a government off the hook. I help people who have problems with the health system – and ACC the last 6 odd years, has gone from bad – to worse. This point was rammed home to me recently with a 70 year old who fell off the bus – ACC were good to a point, but then they started to throw up walls. It took a delegation of Ministers of the cloth and lawyers for them to act like they are supposed to.

    Some basic rules for surviving ACC if you end up on it.

    1. Don’t do phone conversations with your case manager – point blankly refuse. Always do face to face and have a support person.

    2. Don’t let them change case manager on you – unless they give you written notice and have a manager explain in writing why they are doing it.

    3. Never be alone in the room with them – NEVER! Again always have a support person

    4. Always ask for a second medical opinion. Never give ACC the chance to close your case on the say of one doctor – it’s illegal anyway.

    5. If they say it’s a pre-existing condition – Get them to prove it.

    6. If you need to lawyer up – Talk to community law and ask them for the phone number of the best one in town – or out of town if need be – because sometimes the best lawyer is in another city.

    Third point: I disagree about disabled and them not being able to work. I really do.
    Many places are just too scared or worried to hire disabled. I hear it all the time, from people with disabilities who apply for thousands of jobs – and don’t get them. Or with the employment consultants I know who spend most of their time getting over the fear and misconceptions employers have about disabled people. Plus more disabled should be in their own businesses – they has the skills they just need to be encouraged to use them.

    Fourth point: I think disabled can pull themselves up. It just takes more support and effort from those around them. It would also help is some of the agencies in the way, got out of the bloody way and removed there bureaucratic nightmares. Yes you Workbridge – you bottom feeders.

    Again thanks Tracey – Great piece.

    • Rosemary McDonald 11.1

      “… It would also help is some of the agencies in the way, got out of the bloody way and removed there bureaucratic nightmares. Yes you Workbridge – you bottom feeders. ”

      Yep, bottom feeders alright. PLODS.

      People Living Off Disability

      Someday, when I have nothing better to do, I will go through all those agencies, find out how much the taxpayer has funded for them to do their job.

      And, then, I will find out how well they have done their job.

      And you’re right Adam….great post Tracey.

      • BassGuy 11.1.1

        My experiences with Workbridge have been less than stellar.

        Basically, I turned up there only to be asked “What do you want to do?”

        I could have done that at home, or in a cafe with some friends. It’d have been cheaper and just as productive.

        I did have some rather irritating experiences with one of their staff members. The guy went through my CV and told me outright that the best I could hope for in life was to work in a store room, maybe even ascend to the glorious heights of head store person. He knows this because my school marks weren’t very good (the result of my disability) and he has a BA in History, and just look at what he was reduced to.

        He actually said that to me: “…and look what I do.” What, work with people with disabilities? Oh the horror, working with spastics and mentals and retards.

        That poor man, I feel for him – feel that he should be fired. From a cannon, into the sun. I mean, it’s not like we are actually people with hopes, dreams, and desires. No, we’re a strain on him, imposing on his life, forcibly reducing him to working there rather than oh, I don’t know, getting a Masters or publishing.

        The Careers adviser at my local university told me she’s laid several formal complaints about that guy, because of the way he treats people. I like direct, upfront, no messing about, because you know just where you stand, but some people seem to be so wrapped up in themselves that they forget about why they’re doing their job.

        To provide a counterweight to that rather angry rant, I did meet another guy there who actually tried to help, but seemed to be somewhat hamstrung by the business. In the end, I coincidentally fell into work in the field he suggested I should look into.

        I apologise for my use of the offensive terms above, but I feel that they are used appropriately here as an expression of frustration and anger, rather than a put-down of people.

    • Tracey 11.2

      not all disabled people can work adam., no matter whether an employer will employ them or they are supported. also, workers i know with CP, struggle to work 40 hours due to the severe fatigue their muscle controling causes, so let them work 20 and subsidise the remaining 20. I know many disabled folk working fkr a d around charitable orgs. many of the over 35s i know, with CP of a physical not mental impairment, and in wheelchairs are finding their bodies withstanding the struggle of getting up, breakfasting, getting to work etc less and less. they talk tl me about doing volunteer work but cant afford to stop earning but struggling to meet performance outcomes. employers need financial and other support for these folk.

      ACC as intended is a great system. When ideology diverts it drastically from that intention its flaws hurt. my point is that even flawed the ACC system proceeds on the premise that if you had a job we will help more than if you could never work.

      • Rosemary McDonald 11.2.1

        Sadly Tracey, ACC has managed to entrench in NZ the ideology that those born with disability are lower forms of life, and hence less worthy of rights and entitlements than those born ‘perfect’ and who become disabled through through accident.

        I can see the day in NZ when those born ‘perfect’ and who become disabled through some medical condition will have the same rights and entitlements as those on ACC.

        Condemning those born with a ‘defect’ to third class status, forever.

        There has been the odd opportunity to get a little parity….but the PLODs and the ‘representative organisations’ scuttled these attempts.

        How about those in the privilaged disabled class demand that their fellow Kiwis have exactly the same rights and entitlements as themselves?

        • adam 11.2.1.1

          I kinda disagree with you Tracey.

          But that’s because how we define work, rather than the disabled person themselves. Work has become about producing maximum profit for a few individuals – rather than a rewarding experience for all involved. Or a collective of workers producing positive outcomes for themselves and their community. Bill who post here, defines work better than me. For disabled, it’s the engagement of brain, body to a task which is rewarding at their own pace – which should define work for them. The great irony, if the rightwing had half a brain – producing an environment to get disabled into rewarding work, would, in all probability – give them 4% growth they so desperately need.

          Rosemary McDonald, eek just eek. I think you’re right – but it is a scary way to look at the impact of ACC – because I agree with Tracey, ACC was intended as a great social programme.

  12. Kay 12

    Thank you so much for this post Tracey. And isn’t it telling how quiet the RWers are? (I’d like to think they’re maybe feeling a bit guilty, but nah, can’t quite see that…)

    If I might also add to the comments. For some reason I’m not having to constantly reconvince them of my disability, apparently a GP some years signed me off as permanantly disabled and never to be reassessed. But I still live in constant fear it will happen. I have a hidden disability, totally incapable of holding down a job but don’t “look” disablied/sick in the least.

    And of course, like all good ideologies, our beloved politicians are incapable of doing cost/benefit analysis. Having a long term disability is very expensive, and not all of our health system is free. Physiotherapy, orthotics, prescription charges, unfunded prescription meds, glasses, special diets, extra heating, medical alarms, special transport requiements, etc etc. It’s expensive for people working with a fairly well paid job. If you’re on a benefit then we no longer have a hope in hell and it’s quite literally now a choice of heat, eat or treat. (Rent is still the first priority).

    The constant stress of worry about money and how am I going to pay the bills. And don’t get me started on the stress of having any sort of contact with WINZ. Severe and constant stress aggravates chronic medical and mental health conditions and leads to unecessary emergency hospitalisations (always in the public stsyem). How much does that cost the govt via the hard working tax payer who thinks we’re bludgers? (Or perhaps that doesn’t matter because it’s not the welfare budget)? Many of these “bludgers” with long term conditions actually had a chance to get back to at least some form of paid work, until they become too ill from govt-induced stress. I’m still trying to work out if this is deliberate? Annecdotedly this is happening in NZ, I have friends who have become ill from the finanical/WINZ stress, as have I.

    In the UK even the Govt has finally had to admit their reforms have resulted in the deaths of some. How long till that happens here? And who’s going to care? I know who won’t care. I’m still greatful I live in a country where there is some sort of safety net for when I became too ill to work any more- as opposed to the US- but I never thought NZ would turn into a country where politicians and large sections of society encouraged by the media essentially want me dead. That’s really what it’s all about.

    • Rosemary McDonald 12.1

      “But I still live in constant fear…”

      Way to go NZ.

      Kia Kaha, Kay.

    • Tracey 12.2

      thanks for your story. I am constantly appalled by what isnt funded. doctors visits… dentist and on and on.

      we have NOTHING to pat ourselves on the back for. We are an increasingly mean society with a veneer between our treatment of the disabled and the days charles dickens exposed

  13. BassGuy 13

    I have a story, forgive how vague I’ve made it.

    I have an intellectual disability and, mixed with my BSc, it’s made me virtually unemployable, I’m told. The story goes that I won’t be hired because my BSc means I’ll move on to a decent job at the first opportunity – what happened to keeping your staff through good conditions and pay?

    Anyway, a few years back I had an interview where the interviewer was quite happy to talk to me once saw my CV, being particularly pleased that I had so much experience in field he wanted – he told me as much. The interview went very well, I felt I was in the top couple of contenders, until he asked me if there was anything I needed to tell him.

    I told him I have a disability, and I watched his face flush red in a second or two. He picked up my CV and made a big show of going through it, flicking pages over with large movements of his hand, and I could see that he wasn’t reading anything. Then, raising his voice – shouting at me – he told me that I didn’t have any experience suitable for the position. He outright lied to me, explaining that the job was supplying a huge local business (which they did) and it required a lot of this-and-that (which it didn’t – I know, because my brother worked on the team that he supplied, and their team did all of the this-and-that because they knew he was an untrustworthy* little weasel).

    He ranted about how he didn’t have time to train up someone with no experience, forgetting that he’d already complimented me on just that.

    Then, he raised his voice further, roaring at me that I was wasting his valuable time, how dare I come in there with no experience and that he was going to lay a formal complaint against me, and the person who referred me to him, and that I would be “bloody lucky” if he didn’t send me a bill for his time.

    I do not take kindly to people who scream at me, right in my face. I thanked him for his time, and left – the other option was to resort to violence, but I don’t want to be that guy. My fists and jaw were clenched, and I was shaking with rage, but I still walked out of that room without so much as a bad word.

    After a couple of weeks of fuming – and after one particular friend explained to me in-depth that I was completely in the wrong, and every employer is free to refuse to hire someone with a disability because of the disability – I basically forgot about it.

    Two years later, I ran into a friend from my degree who’d gone for the same job. Fresh out of university, no experience, assignments done at the last second, he probably spent most of his life stoned.

    He got the job. This is how I know that it was my disability, and not my level of experience.

    Now, I’ve been told by a few people that I was rather lucky. Who wants to work for a bigot like that, all those usual platitudes, but that does not for a single moment change the fact that I’ve been cheated of an opportunity to work because of a fat balding white bigot.

    For certain, I have applied for other jobs in the field, but they’ve typically begun to set higher and higher requirements for entry level positions. I know that I’m now competing for entry level roles with my BSc against people with a Masters or 20 years in the field, and no disability.

    After this interview I did find a job, and my previous employer was informed of my disability during the initial interview. When I reminded him of it a few months later he told me that if I’d mentioned it in the interview he would never have hired me.

    *He suggested to me that, should I want to get the experience, I could go dumpster diving for discarded computers, and use them to learn what I needed to. I still remember him saying “As for Windows, well, there are ways to get Windows.”

    edit: speeeeling.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 13.1

      Unless we start policing human rights violations effectively this won’t stop: it’s already illegal.

      It’s almost as if we need people to go into interviews to catch out these criminals with hidden cameras 😈

      • BassGuy 13.1.1

        I have thought about that. It’d be like “To Catch A Predator.” Afterwards, you could approach them on camera and tell them you were going to publish the video, and then do slow-mo on their change of expression.

        Could even have people voting on YouTube, deciding which employer had the best expression.

    • Rosemary McDonald 13.2

      You know, there is every possibility that this bigoted bully treats anyone he feels superior to in the same way.

      The friend you ran into a few years later….the one who got a job with the same outfit….did he have any issues with the boss?

      its hard to make a complaint to the Human Right Commission…but sometimes it turns out that others have complained about the same person or business.

  14. BassGuy 14

    My friend didn’t say much about the boss, when I ran into him. It’s been so long that I can’t remember what little he did say, only that it wasn’t particularly strong or memorable.

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