- Date published:
7:01 am, July 26th, 2017 - 41 comments
Categories: accountability, benefits, class war, national, poverty, welfare - Tags: #IamMetiria, beneficiary bashing, homeless, homeless crisis, metiria turei, suicide
It is great that Metiria Turei has put the spotlight on WINZ and the plight of beneficiaries in this country. Most people would be shocked to learn that each WINZ case manager is assigned a target of getting a specified number of people off the benefit every month:
Work and Income (WINZ) staff are “more than happy” to break the law to get people off benefits so they can reach monthly targets, it has been claimed.
Beneficiary advocate Jeremy Roundill says a WINZ employee in Manurewa told him the target for each case manager was 12 clients off the benefit a month.
WINZ declined to be interviewed for this story, but said in a statement while there are targets – which differ by regions – employees have no financial incentives to reach them and are not sanctioned if they don’t.
[Auckland Action Against Poverty advocacy coordinator Alistair Russell] says most Ministry of Social Development employees go into the job wanting to help people, but soon realise what’s expected of them – even without financial incentives. “If you’re going to have a career path through Work and Income and want to be a manager or a boss, you know what you need to be saying and doing.” …
Such targets are part of the culture that has created our punitive and aggressive welfare system:
New Zealand’s social welfare system “dehumanises” people in need, with beneficiaries described as “scared stiff” of Work and Income case managers, a report says.
A Canterbury Community Law (CCL) investigation, which looked at access to justice for beneficiaries, said beneficiaries felt they were treated as “non-humans” by Work and Income – not even allowed access to toilets during lengthy waits at offices.
Fear was at a level where people were forgoing entitlements from Work and Income, instead going to non-government organisation’s food banks, or the Mayor’s Welfare Fund because of previous negative experiences, the report said. …
NZ poor suffering under punitive welfare system Massey uni study argues
A new textbook by Massey University and the University of Waikato argues that over the last 20 years the welfare system in New Zealand has sunk to a cruel, unconstructive entity that reinforces the idea of those in need as failures.
“The myth of an over-generous welfare state still features strongly in public imagination,” lead author, Professor Darrin Hodgetts, says. “The levels of scrutiny and interrogation are therefore often surprising to people who end up engaging with welfare for the first time due to redundancy, failed businesses, serious illnesses or other misfortunes.”
The study uses the term “structural violence” to describe the behaviour that welfare providers often deal out to recipients. “They often resemble violent relationships between intimate partners, involving coercion, detailed monitoring, denying resources, blaming, threats and intimidation, victimisation, and the minimising of legitimate concerns,” Hodgetts says.
The book compiles 200 years of research on urban poverty in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the United States and Britain to highlight developments and similarities across countries. The cause of the “punitive welfare system” according to the study is the emergence of neo-liberalism as a dominant political ideology. …
In 2012 New Zealand introduced a new welfare system based on data collection. Australia is now planning to do the same, to the horror of experts who say it harms rather than helps the most needy
New Zealand welfare experts have slammed the Australian government’s decision to copy their welfare system, saying the changes are unproven and are causing New Zealand’s most vulnerable to “check out” of any relationship with the state.
“In New Zealand our welfare system operates the same way as our prisons – it treats beneficiaries as a threat to society, to be policed and managed,” said Darrin Hodgetts, a professor of societal psychology at Massey University and an expert on poverty in New Zealand.
“If Australia want to abuse and brutalise their people, then sure, copy our system.” …
It’s all about kicking people off the benefit, so that the Nats can crow about press releases and headlines like this: Beneficiary numbers fall again: Government, and Number of people on a benefit continues to fall. Despite WINZ rhetoric, it isn’t about getting people in to jobs:
Australia can learn from the limitations of New Zealand’s welfare reforms
New Zealand’s welfare system is focused on getting people off benefits. But it fails to measure the true economic costs and benefits of doing so.
Despite the stated aims of the New Zealand policy reforms, the investment approach is not about finding people stable employment. Rather it is about getting people off benefit over time. That is what it measures. That is what is valued. That is how government agencies’ performance is rewarded.
Leaving benefit and getting a job are positively – but far from perfectly – related. People may go off benefit into education, building up a debt they are unable to service. They may move into the black or grey economy. They may re-partner. They may move onto the streets. Or they may get a job. The investment approach is indifferent to all these vastly different potential destinations. And even if people go into jobs, the investment approach treats all jobs as equal. …
According to the CTU: Only half of people get jobs when leaving a benefit (see also etc). What happens to the rest? Does any Nat know or care? Perhaps the rapidly increasing numbers of homeless give a clue to the answer.
A 2015 UK study linked 590 cases of suicide to efforts to reduce the number of people claiming disability benefit. The same sort of study into our shockingly high suicide rate is needed. It is probably no coincidence.
Reducing the number on benefits is the wrong goal. It is a mean, demeaning, punitive goal. We should have a goal of creating jobs. We should have a goal of getting people healthy. We should have a goal of educating and enabling people. Then the number on benefits would take care of itself.
Admission by @AnneTolleyMP that they don't know what happens to people coming off benefits is pretty striking. And worrying.
— Max Rashbrooke (@MaxRashbrooke) May 14, 2016
Do National Ministers really not get connection between kicking people off benefits and the increase in homelessness/poverty? #nzqt
— Julie Anne Genter (@JulieAnneGenter) July 25, 2017