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Doing the numbers: benefits & (un)employment

Written By: - Date published: 9:14 am, January 18th, 2013 - 92 comments
Categories: accountability, benefits, class war, greens, Metiria Turei, paula bennett, unemployment, workers' rights - Tags:

Paula Bennett stated yesterday that the numbers of people on benefits had dropped noticeably during the last quarter.  However, the figures are presented in such a way as to mask the reality of employment, unemployment, Bennett’s punitive welfare reforms, and the struggles of those living on low incomes.

The number of people on benefits in New Zealand is the lowest it’s been at the end of a December quarter since 2008.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says the number of people on benefits decreased by nearly 12,000 in the last twelve months.

“But with 339,095 people on benefit in New Zealand, there is much more work to do.”

“We are very much in a transitional phase with the first stage of Welfare Reform currently being implemented and the second stage yet to begin,” says Mrs Bennett.

“There are 13,600 fewer people on benefit than two years ago which means on average, benefit numbers reduced by 131 every week for the past two years.”

Green Party co-leader, Metiria Turei, was quick off the mark yesterday, questioning the reality behind the figures, and how they related (or didn’t) to the unemployment statistics.

A fall in the number of unemployment beneficiaries while unemployment itself is rising raises concerns over whether the Government’s punitive welfare changes are preventing kiwis getting the help they really need, the Green Party said today.

The latest benefit numbers show that, while there was a seasonal increase in unemployment numbers, the number of people on the unemployment benefit is down on last year, despite the number of people who are unemployed being up.

“It’s unusual that at the same time that the number of people who are out of work is rising, the number of people getting unemployment benefits is falling,” Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said.

“It would be extremely concerning if many people who need help because they have lost their job are not getting help because of National’s punitive welfare changes.

“The numbers may also indicate growing numbers of families under stress as one partner loses a job, but is ineligible for the benefit because the other is working.

“It’s no surprise the National Government prefers to tout unemployment benefit numbers over the real number of unemployed which the latest figures state is about 175,00

The biggest concern is the numbers who have come off the DPB, as a result of changes Bennett has made, pressuring mothers of young children to get work:

There was a particularly big drop in the number of people on the Domestic Purposes Benefit (DPB) at the end of 2012 after the Government introduced work obligations for sole parents with older children.

Invest in NZ has also been looking at the numbers:

Unemployment Benefit numbers increased by 3,000 over the quarter driven by large numbers of students finishing their studies just before summer.

The number of sole parents on the DPB dropped 1.6% over the quarter to 95,138 and 3,221 sole parents went off this benefit into work in that period.

However, not all the sole parents that went off the DPB went into work.  According to Claire Trevett on the NZ Herald,

The number of sole parents on the domestic purposes benefit dropped by 5000 last year – a drop Social Development Minister Paula Bennett is attributing partly to her new policy requiring sole parents to get jobs when their youngest child turns five.

Figures released yesterday showed there were 95,138 sole parents on the DPB at the end of 2012 – down from 100,266 the year before.

The figures mix total numbers for the quarter with percentage drops, and other figures show the drop over the year.  So it is hard to work out exactly how many sole parents went off the DPB but did not get work.   There is also no information about how many went into part time work (which is most likely for sole parents with children), or how much these jobs pay.

As Turei pointed out, it is clear that there is a discrepancy between the official unemployment numbers and those on benefits.  This indicates a deterioration in income and living circumstances for many of the people surviving on low incomes, driven by Bennett’s punitive changes to the benefit system.  And this negative impact is being masked by a strategic presentation of statistics that don’t make for easy comparisons, while Bennett keeps playing on the widespread construction of DPB recipients as “undeserving poor”.

[Update: RNZ Summer Report on the “welfare numbers” and poverty:

Opposition parties say the latest welfare figures issued by the Government prove people are being forced into poverty…

However, the latest Household Labour Force Survey shows unemployment has risen.

Council of Trade Unions economist Bill Rosenberg told Summer Report the Government is making it harder for people to receive assistance.

He said says beneficiaries should be encouraged to seek work, but that does not appear to be the case.

And it’s worth listening to the interview at the above link with Rosenberg.  He also comments on the controlled release of statistics from the government, which aren’t in a form that people can make sense of.


92 comments on “Doing the numbers: benefits & (un)employment”

  1. I agree Karol this is not something to celebrate.

    Somewhere there is a Kiwi family whose parents have had to resort to crime or prostitution to get by.

    There has to be a better way …

    • Tom Gould 1.1

      And what might that ‘better way’ be, Micky?

      • McFlock 1.1.1

        not kick ’em off a benefit they need.

        • TightyRighty

          Just let them leech of the productive for as long as they feel like then? the benefit changes were to encourage people into real work. hell if you can’t even keep a job like the benefit you don’t deserve much sympathy.

          • McFlock

            Well, we could always have a government that keeps jobs in NZ. That “brighter future” is just around the corner…

            • TightyRighty

              they did. you hated that too. How dare the government get such an awesome ROI off $67m by keeping a movie that wouldn’t bow to the aussie unions demand? How dare the government explore fracking? because that wouldn’t create any jobs. you are making the usual idiotic mistake of assuming the government of a country the size of new zealand has control of worldwide market forces. Seriously? get an education. your pontificating on subjects that you know less than fuck all about is disheartening. you can take some of the responsibility for this country being shit, because you are shit.

              • McFlock

                GFC? Get a grip. we’re doing worse than most developed nations and our trading partners, and you still have the idiocy to blame the GFC?

                Funny, though. The only company key was prepared to throw money at (that wasn’t a bankrupt finance company) just happened to be run by a prominent Key supporter. And you call temporary mcjobs in exchange for $67mil “value for money” even assuming the jobs would have gone overseas without it.

                What a fucking mumpty you are. But if it helps you sleep at night (what with supporting a government that kills our kids and all that), call me whatever you want, baby.

              • Foreign Waka

                I think that there is no need to get so aggressive. Mind you it’s great that you feel passionate about the issue – better than being disinterested. Nonetheless, I do not agree with the notion that NZ has to sell its position on the environment to appease Multinationals. I belief some damage was done in the last few days with signing an agreement of sorts to enable GMOfood to enter the country. Now, this kind of business I do not understand a it does not create a single workplace but damages NZ reputation. As to fracking – it has been documented as being harmful to the environment and people -http://www.greens.org.nz/fracking – ground water contamination just being one very good reason to not go down that path.
                Coming back to the heading of the article – we are in an deflationary environment which is worst than the opposite. Kind of a downward spiral and there are people being proud of it ?! This is the kind of climate that precipitated the great depression in the 1920’s. As to Mrs Bennett announcing the statistics as a success says something about the nativity of this minister and the sheer angst her seemingly low education level might instills in every thinking person. It certainly concerns me greatly that this is the level of care we all can expect from a minister of this government.

          • bad12

            Ok, if i were to feel like answering your little quisle in a sane factual manner i would simply ask you how can these people have moved into real paid work when the unemployment numbers have not gone down,

            It’s a simple enough self evident question that really answers it’self but i don’t, feel like answering your little quisle in a sane factual manner that is,

            So, why don’t you crawl back into whatever sewer or back under whatever rock you just slithered out from because it hurts my head to have to (a) read the utter s**t you post, and (b), an utter piece of s**t such as you obviously are doesn’t really deserve an answer…

            • TightyRighty

              Plenty of jobs out there. Seasonal unemployment? know the difference between that and structural unemployment? I know of six companies hiring. I also know of a company hiring that has tried with beneficiaries, offered a good wage too, and given up as the utter fucking stupidity and laziness of the beneficiaries did there head in. these are the people who you believe “want to work”. So stick up for them some more. “people” really “care” what you think. twerp.

              • bad12

                Name these company’s that are hiring wanker…

              • georgecom

                The old right wing “there are plenty of jobs out there whilst waving arm around in a vague direction” answer. Plenty of jobs around, just not for the several hundred thousand without work. Maybe the jobs are on Planet Key.

              • Wanting to work and being able to work (especially at particular jobs) are different things. We should invest a fair amount into getting people who want to work to the point where they are able to work.

                We’re hardly even trying to do that right now.

          • Schlurps McGoo

            Yes there’s no solution as elegant for unemployment quite like a job.

            Where are those promised jobs and economic recovery by the way?

    • infused 1.2

      Common Micky, give me a break.

      It’s tough shit. They need to get back to work.

    • QoT 1.3

      Does sex work really have to be your go-to for “degrading demeaning terrible work”, mickey?

      It’s legal employment which many people participate in voluntarily and enthusiastically, despite years of getting crapped on by society, law enforcement, and (these days) local government. And it pays a hell of a lot better than a lot of the other types of “menial” work people will be “forced” into.

      • Te Reo Putake 1.3.1

        You’re the one saying its “degrading demeaning terrible work”, QOT. And you’re right. Prostitution is lucrative, particularly for the bosses, but the job comes with disease, violence, drugs and the almost inevitable mental health issues for the majority in the industry.

        If you can find a better example, let’s see it.

        • QoT

          No, I’m not, TRP, I’m summarising mickey’s meaning, so fuck off with your wilful misinterpretation – and your BS dehumanising attitudes to sex work which, for those who are actually harmed by it, just makes things worse.

          • Te Reo Putake

            Well, they are your words QOT, not MS’s. And why use quotation marks if it’s not a quote?

            As for the other matter, you know I’m right and your feeble abuse doesn’t change anything. But feel free to put up that better example any time you want. China orange to all of Lombard street you can’t.

            • QoT

              There’s this thing called “paraphrasing”, you may have heard of it.

              How many examples do you need?

              You know what I sincerely love about anti-sex-worker people like you, TRP? The way that you seem to believe sex work is the only industry in which people are coerced into working unsafely by exploiting profiteers.

              Oh, but it involves penis, so that makes it different, right?

              • Te Reo Putake

                You’re the one being the penis, QOT. I am supportive of workers in the sex industry, as my first comment makes pretty plain. You apparently don’t know what quotation marks are for, what a quote is, nor what ‘paraphrasing’ means.

                And you really lose it here:

                “The way that you seem to believe sex work is the only industry in which people are coerced into working unsafely by exploiting profiteers.”

                Citation, please! And feel free to supply that better example any time you want. But as I noted above, you clearly can’t.

                • No, you’re really not supportive, TRP, because if you were you would have realised that QOT was actually quite correct that in grouping sex work with criminal activity, Mickey did imply degradation. If you’re such a champion of the rights of sex workers, I’d think you’d have better things to do than to nitpick your peers in that fight.

                  As for your citation, if I can step in…

                  And you’re right. Prostitution is lucrative, particularly for the bosses, but the job comes with disease, violence, drugs and the almost inevitable mental health issues for the majority in the industry.

                  The implication in the fact that you feel this fact is noteworthy only for prostitution (if you really thought sex work was the same as other industries, you could easily have said “one of many industries” somewhere in there) is that there is something special or different involved in providing sexual services. Whether this is an internalised attitude you haven’t yet reconciled with your beliefs or you’re not serious when you say you support the rights of sex workers, I don’t know, but either way, please stop wasting everyone’s time with your nitpicking and do (or at least say) something productive instead.

  2. end o times viper shorts 2

    bout time the media did a story on some of those who’ve no employment nor state support – or are we meant to just pretend they don’t exist

    sad and anger inducing that would be

  3. PlanetOrphan 3

    Meanwhile the MSM are trying to pacify New Zealand by flogging them with Johny Sparkles smile.

    I see Riots coming ! , Maybe Hekia Parata can “Communicate” the Gnats out of it aye Johnny Boy?

    DunnoKeyo running around in circles making throat slitting gestures, and pointing his glittery finger at everyone ….

    “It’s all your fault M8!” 🙁

  4. Chris 4

    So, Big Paula has been trundled out onto the parapet to start the year off with her version of success by trumpeting a whole lot of facts and figures, sorry,factless figures that do not obviously have to be substantiated. Where did all these people go?Why does she not have to back these claims with proof of where all these beneficiaries are and how they are living.

    She has obviously been kept in seclusion over the break to be indoctrinated further and to learn her figures,and spinning rhetoric when questioned.

    There will come a time when even The Salvation Army and all others like them will be unable to cope with the fallout of Bouncy Paula’s policies.

    I still shake my head in disbelief that she is still there.keys not so secret weapon.

  5. just saying 5

    I’ve noticed a trend of knowing or knowing of, more and more people without paid work who aren’t on a benefit, but I didn’t join the dots until I read commenters like Bill and Bad12 talking about it.

    I know of instances where whanau and their contacts are keeping unemployed members afloat (just) and it worries me how exposed these people are to exploitation and scapegoating. Then there is the black economy, gambling, casual, under the counter work, odd jobs, incurring ever more debt, by various means – and the impossible juggling that goes with that…. all very precarious, and just the sorts of things my grandparents used to talk about happening during the depression.

    One of those rip-off grocery trucks parked on my street yesterday. The ones that exploit those that can’t get to a supermarket. I just felt desolate. Yet another tentacle of the unspoken-of depression has slithered in.

    • Saccharomyces 5.1

      Wow, I’ve seen the clothes/household goods ones, but haven’t seen grocery ones. I’ll bet they’re offering “easy terms credit” too…..

  6. fatty 6

    National stimulating unemployment and attacking beneficiaries should be distressing, but it should not be surprising.
    Labour’s inability to turn score points off this is also distressing, but also, should not be surprising.
    Whenever you’re ready Jacinda Ardern, in your own time

    • Fortran 6.1

      Who is Jacinda?
      Is she in Parliament ?

    • xtasy 6.2

      Jacinda may be lying on a beach somewhere overseas, perhaps.

      Or is she redrafting her CV for a new career in consultancy on social welfare issues or whatever else may come to mind?

      Yes, I am just wondering, was that last speech before Parliament into the summer recess just a bit of another “performance” act not to be taken too seriously?

      • karol 6.2.1

        There is a brief mention to Labour in the RNZ article I linked to in the update to my post. It says:

        Labour agrees the figures will come as cold comfort for job-seekers unable to find work.

        • xtasy

          Thanks Karol, not much details there, I suppose, holiday replacement spokesperson perhaps saying a bit or two?!

          • karol

            xtasy, it just looks like they contacted the acting spokesperson for everything (Chris Hipkins?) and asked for hir response.

            • xtasy

              hippy, hippy yeah! Hippykinskisssy – yet again, megaphone of Labour while the Leader is up north surfing and playing guitar, while Jacinda is exploring exotic environs, or working on a career change.

              I love it. Next week back to normal, or extensive leave for caucus and leadership?

  7. aerobubble 7

    Its innovative, the world needs to hear about this more, that Key has discovered the holy grail of unemployment, that in a time of recession and with little sign of a rebound in the economy, the unemployment numbers are going down! There must be more too it, I’m not seeing foreign world governments suddenly rushing their social security ministers to get some of Key voodoo.

    • karol 7.1

      Actually, it’s not the unemployment figures that are going down, but the numbers of people on benefits. Magically Bennett is saying people are going off benefits into work, while the unemployment numbers are still rising – ghost jobs?

  8. Afewknowthetruth 8

    After the industrial system collapses completely (almost certainly by 2025) those who have not died of starvation will go back to the natural state of humans -of being hunter-gatherers (as were Maori before white people arrived in NZ to loot the place).. Greece is well on the way to collapse, with the general rate of unemployment of around 25% and youth unemployment of around 60% (and rising). Spain and Portugal are not far behind., with the US running close (48 million of food stamps and the environment collapsing).

    Unfortunately, the road to collapse of industrial civilisation almost certainly travels though overt fascism (as opposed to the covert fascism we currently endure) and/or feudalism, with a few nasty, greedy bastards at the top living off the toil of those they have enslaved, as has been the case for most of history since humans started agriculture..

    If collapse does not come quickly enough the industrial system will render most of the Earth uninhabitable via abrupt climate change that comes with runaway greenhouse.

    Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place.

    Needless to say, the govern, councils etc. won’t have a bar of the solution to this predicament (if there is one) -powerdown and permaculture- because they interfere with the rot system that has been established.

    • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 8.1

      2025 now? Yesterday it was 2015. 12 months ago it was 2013.

      • Lanthanide 8.1.1

        Hunter-gatherers by 2025? Hahaha.

        2075, maybe, if there’s some sort of nuclear war or something.

        Just to clarify, because I’m sure “Afewknowthetruth” won’t understand the point I’m making and will accuse me of not understanding peak oil etc: hunter-gatherers provide for their own food, or within a small community group. I would contrast that to our current distribution model, where people are specialised and buy their food from others.

        To expect us to go to hunter-gatherers, after 2000 years of civilization (they didn’t have oil and gas in 1500AD and they weren’t hunter-gatherers…) frankly shows how uneducated you are.

        • Afewknowthetruth


          To imagine that a complex system that is totally dependent on cheap fossil fuels and totally dependent on stable environmental conditions can persist long after fossil fuels have been depleted and the environment has been destroyed shows how away with the fairies you are.

          The peak of extraction of oil was over 2005 to 2008, and the only reason the system has not imploded already is that particularly nasty forms of energy recovery, i.e. extraction from .tar sands and fracking, are being employed.

          Next summer should tell us whether we have triggered a rapid meltdown via positive feeedbacks in the Arctic region At the moment the ice cover is tracking below the level of 2007, the year of the previous spectacular meltdown.

          I knew there was a reason I stopped commenting on the Standard: it is inhabited by uninformed fools who waste my time.

          • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell

            I knew there was a reason I stopped commenting on the Standard: it is inhabited by uninformed fools who waste my time.

            Just the burden you must bear for being one of the few who know the truth.

          • Tiresias

            Afewknowthetruth? I’ve being trying to remember the name of someone else who scurried around trying desperately to warn everyone that the sky was falling. Who was it now?

            Oh yes, I remember. Chicken Little.

            (Mea culpa – I’ve sounded off often enough in these comments about people who only write to attack others and must admit to being guilty of the same here. And it was lovely.)

          • Johnm

            Hi AFKTT
            There’s a simple reason why so many don’t or won’t get what you’re saying, it’s because it is downright terrifying to be told your whole World is ending and it causes mental distress. I suppose that makes us cowards while you are certainly not in this area. Yes, resource depletion, Climate Change, a devastated Earth, and the end of the Industrial civilisation are real.

            On the other hand so many people are 100% caught up in day to day activity, paying mortgages and rents and rates, bringing up children, holding down jobs they haven’t the energy to worry about these bigger issues. If you’re worried about those the above issues seem remote.

        • xtasy

          No there will not be widespread “hunter gathering” going on like in past ages.

          Instead we will have a selected elite and pampered “upper” middle class of sorts continue living a life of exploitation of nature and the newly created class made up of an ever growing under-class of working poor, living a meagre life by working 24/7, sleeping in poor-houses, factory dormitories, or in slum like shacks in certain parts of urban centres.

          The environment will be destroyed further, resources will be fought over with war-machinery and the already mentioned working slave foot-soldiers, and “social welfare” will be a “model” that will be unheard of then.

          Sick and invalids will also be “employed” in some form (assembling ball-point pens if need be), or they will be forced to sit at street corners with emply bowls, begging for a few morsels to survive on.

          That is more like the future, and I can already see it happen here in NZ also, as this whole garbage propaganda of “a Kiwi can”, “we are all in this together” are losing meaning by the day. NZ is a very, very divided society, where one lot (especially the top per centages of the populace, that is not all of them of course) love shitting on the rest, particularly the “bludgers” down the very bottom.

          Any unrest will be dealt with by way of brute police and military force.

    • kiwi_prometheus 8.2

      “(as were Maori before white people arrived in NZ to loot the place)”

      Maori were already doing a good job of looting the place – hunting the moa to extinction for example.

      Good example of the reverse racism that others on here have proudly and openly embraced.

      Being white is not evil, Western Civilisation has achieved so many great things its hard to know where to even begin.

      • fatty 8.2.1

        Being white is not evil, Western Civilisation has achieved so many great things its hard to know where to even begin.

        Good point…but it is also true if you switch the words ‘evil’ and ‘great’

        Being white is not great, Western Civilisation has achieved so many evil things its hard to know where to even begin

        • Foreign Waka

          Ahh, just what NZ needs now, racism at its finest, highly educated people being “mislead” into falling over each other. Ok, where did I read about such happenings before? hmmmmm

      • Tiresias 8.2.2

        “(as were Maori before white people arrived in NZ to loot the place)”

        Cue, of course, for the classic:

      • Northshoreguynz 8.2.3

        But it will probably end it.

      • ak 8.2.4

        Maori were already doing a good job of looting the place – hunting the moa to extinction for example

        So keeping your tamariki alive by the only means possible is “looting” in your book. Ah, and reverse racism…….

        Just fuck off, you boring, racist piece of shit. If you’re lucky you’ll grow up one day, but in the meantime spare us your need for attention.

      • There is no such thing as ‘reverse’ racism. Racism is the formation or reinforcement of a racial heirarchy.

        Being under the false impression that life was somehow more idealistic* for other cultures before white europeans colonised their lands is just another form of privilege- depending on your point of view, either the ignorane of history, or the aggrandised delusion that only white people are smart enough to invent self-reinforcing negative behaviours.

        Or in short: Ignorance of people below you in our invented racial heirarchy is in fact a very important part of that heirarchy, because you can’t realise how fake it is until you realise just how ordinary people of other races are.

        *Obviously there was the lack of racial oppression, but at the same time, indigenous cultures had their own social problems.

  9. Outofworkkiwi 9

    Bennett has instructed Winz to take a punitive attitude of cutting anyone’s UB who are considered to not be cooperating with their obligations. Take me for example. Over about two weeks I was contacted by landline about 10 times, two or three times I spoke to them and agreed to be put forward for various jobs. Then I got another call from them saying the employer had spoken to me, I said no!? They said ok clean slate. Some of the calls from them I was out and my flat mate heard them but they didn’t hang on for the 6 rings for the answerphone to start up.

    Next without a notifying letter of a revue of my benefit and an appointment to explain whatever to them they cut my benefit! (Winz procedures say they must send out a letter). I made an appointment to see them and they told me it’d been cut as I couldn’t be contacted!!! I’ve been flatting at the same address for 20 years! They still resisted putting me back on the UB.

    I then went to benefit rights who immediately spotted their procedural misbehaviour, putting it mildly! and another revue went through and the UB was reinstated with arrears. It caused me a hell of a lot of stress and worry and took weeks as often you can’t get an interview for 10 days at a time. Their HO sent the office numerous emails to them to contact me as to the urgency but they did not contact me.

    next I went to a job seminar and the organiser warned anyone failing a drugs test when going for a position requiring it would have their UB cut no questions asked. the attitude is cut the UB and ask questions later. 🙁

    My opinion the right to shelter and food and a minimum income is a human right in a civilised country, we are going to see a lot more social distress if this Government continues to get its way. 🙁

    Getting back on the UB was an uphill and frustrating business of being ignored and attempts to politely brush me off. I got the impression the person who made this decision under section 81 got a bit of a sadistic thrill out of it. Maybe after after a week of successfully cutting some beneficiaries incomes they get a pay rise? I can well imagine some poor stressed out souls at the end of their tether wouldn’t have the morale to go through all the hassle of challenging this cruel behaviour.

    OK kiwis Key’s American style welfare is coming, I hope they don’t lock up the dumpsters at the back of supermarkets. 🙁

    I was lucky I had a few hundred saved otherwise I could have ended up on the street homeless, not paying the rent, and hungry as well. The landlord here is a bastard if you don’t pay the rent, he’s still paying a mortgage on the place, plenty of others will take your room. 🙁

    • Lanthanide 9.1

      “I got the impression the person who made this decision under section 81 got a bit of a sadistic thrill out of it.”

      It’s possible, but what I think the more likely cause is that your case was passed through many many different hands, probably many of whom had only a small part in the picture. The person who ultimately made the final decision simply made it on the information that they had presented to them, where it looked like you were not eligible.

      • Tim 9.1.1

        “The person who ultimately made the final decision…..etc”,
        …..and the first – is of course Paula Bennett – her that took advantage of the benefit (and every available add-on going) when she was practising to cart her ample load around in a wheel barrow; refining her sales-speak and “dukshun”; and then availing herself of every parliamentary perk going.
        If EVER there was a horror story – Puller Bent is it. Ferral in nature, ferral in mind. The sadest thing is shoi ekshly believes her own hype “kos she pulled hersef up boi her own bootstreps” (or so she believes). Shoi dud it – so ken evrywun ess

      • Descendant Of Sssmith 9.1.2

        “I got the impression the person who made this decision under section 81 got a bit of a sadistic thrill out of it.”

        This comment about Section 81 gives food for thought.

        In the 80’s this was a rarely used piece of legislation that I never came across being used in a way like this. The only occasions I can recall it being used was when someone had applied for the wrong benefit and rather than make them apply again the correct benefit was paid or in the process of an investigation into working or being in a relationship someone was required to answer questions.

        Section 81 is thus:

        81 Review of benefits

        (1) The chief executive may from time to time review any benefit in order to ascertain-

        (a) whether the beneficiary remains entitled to receive it; or
        (b) whether the beneficiary may not be, or may not have been, entitled to receive that benefit or the rate of benefit that is or was payable to the beneficiary-

        and for that purpose may require the beneficiary or his or her spouse or partner to provide any information or to answer any relevant question orally or in writing, and in the manner specified by the chief executive. If the beneficiary or his or her spouse or partner fails to comply with such a requirement within such reasonable period as the chief executive specifies, the chief executive may suspend, terminate, or vary the rate of benefit from such date as the chief executive determines.

        (2) If, after reviewing a benefit under subsection (1), the chief executive is satisfied that the beneficiary is no longer or was not entitled to receive the benefit or is or was entitled to receive the benefit at a different rate, the chief executive may suspend, terminate, or vary the rate of the benefit from such date as the chief executive reasonably determines.

        (3) If, after reviewing a benefit under subsection (1), the chief executive considers the beneficiary is more appropriately entitled to receive some other benefit, the chief executive may, in his or her discretion, cancel the benefit the beneficiary was receiving and grant that other benefit commencing from the date of cancellation.

        I’ve scrolled through the unemployment benefit policy on their website


        and can find no policy about using Section 81 in the way you describe.

        The advocacy group you went to might be able to get some more detail about how Section 81 is being used. It’s clearly separate from the normal work-testing process and the lack of public information available about how it is supposed to be used I find concerning.

        It’s difficult enough to challenge decisions when the policy is available – it must be near impossible when it’s not there.

        • xtasy


          I have regrettably come across a fair number of decisions by WINZ case managers over the years, which have been very “flawed” or at least overly “rushed” – without proper consultation!

          This is sadly nothing unusual anymore, it happens more often than ever before.

          Staff are in some cases also struggling to keep up with high work volumes, high expectations, and they always have a fair bit of a staff-turnover. So some may not be sufficiently familiar with the details of the law and proper processes.

          For good reasons I will not give an example here, as certain issues I had resolved made clear to me, if biting the hand that feeds you, they can also turn quite “nasty”.

          Letters they send out often are days late. They also send wrong letters out at times. Some stuff gets printed automatically (review and reporting reminders and similar), which at times is beyond control of the case manager or team leader.

          In many ways, it is often a bit like the left hand not knowing what the right one does. Hence bringing in such draconian reforms like drug testing, social obligation enforcement, stopping benefits for persons against whom an arrest warrant has been issued, that will create an admin nightmare, it will make the department unworkeable, short of resources for doing what they usually would be doing.

    • xtasy 9.2


      Thanks for sharing this. I must say, this is becoming a more frequent occurrence, that is at least what I have been told. Benefit advocates will know the same. They are sadly facing an uphill battle too, like the food-banks, trying to cope with assisting needy people, who are ever growing in numbers, while they themselves are often forced to “ration” or cut their services, given funding cuts, also by MSD, who in at least many cases actually also “fund” the budget advisory and advocacy services.

      It is all-out warfare on the poor and powerless now, and I can only appeal to all affected, get organised, join groups of advocates and activists like here in Auckland the ‘Auckland Action Aganist Poverty’ (AAAP), Waitemata Unite group or whatever.

      Be also “mindful” with your vote next election, there is a highly suspicious “quietness” on too much of this from Labour at present!

      Best of luck!

    • infused 9.3

      “next I went to a job seminar and the organiser warned anyone failing a drugs test when going for a position requiring it would have their UB cut no questions asked. the attitude is cut the UB and ask questions later. ”

      Seems you were quite worried by the drug test?

      • Anne 9.3.1

        That’s your unsubstantiated and quite stupid assumption.

      • xtasy 9.3.2

        infused idiocy, judging without evidence and thus just being a back-biting gossiper, I am afraid, that is how this comes across, dear matey.

  10. xtasy 10

    The truth behind the figures presented by Bennett and the government is their new draconian, punitive approach in the benefit regime implemented by WINZ and the MSD now!

    There is no doubt about it, since Future Focus was introduced since 2010, sickness beneficiaries have been work tested, sole parents have in increasing numbers been forced to take on any kind of “suitable” jobs, whatever that means in detail, and if they fail somehow, they get denied support in too many cases, forcing them to resort to emergency support from relatives, friends and non government social services, like CSS (Combined Christian Social Services) today announced.

    Food banks and other emergency end of the bench services have so much to do, as they never had before!

    WINZ is also cracking down in “special needs grants” for food and so, and after two applications for that people get sent to budget services. They are instructed to work along the lines MSD expect them to also. Some budgeting services are also financed by MSD. So increasingly people end up with Citizen Advice Bureaus for help. When food grant entitlement from WINZ runs out, people are expected to “apply” for a letter stating this, which they then must take to food-banks, otherwise they get no help there.

    It is a damned audacity for Bennett to now present herself and her in many cases absolutely INHUMANE policies as some great “achievement”, when numbers for those claiming benefits (particularly UB) go down, while the Household Labour Survey last reported a marked increase in those seeking work.

    Now, I wonder, how will the crime figures look like, once the next, even more draconian reforms, will have been implemented?!

    Also – where is Jacinda Ardern? I respect the Greens to make a comment, but I have heard NOTHING from the main “opposition” party as yet. It seems we presently get no opposition from the Shearer caucus camp. Philosphical “Grand Coalition” between Labour and the Natz perhaps???

    • Foreign Waka 10.1

      I can’t help noticing that these stories bear similarities of hose I heard from the forma Russia in the 70’s. Very peculiar I have to say.

      • xtasy 10.1.1

        I lived near there for years, and that was before the fall of the wall.

        Yes, propaganda is kept going, until the last bastion falls. Let us hope the “last bastion” of lies, deceipt and corruption of Natzy -ACT rule will soon fall, brick for brick, like the Berlin Wall.

  11. xtasy 11


    in English “WORK SETS YOU FREE”

    was the writing across a huge arch above the entrance to Auschwitz concentrationcamp, established by the NAZIs in the time they ruled Germany and occupied large parts of Europe, and where they ended up forcing tens of thousands of jews, gypsies, political dissidents and other “anti social” elements to forced labour, later mass extinction.

    It seems we have a Minister and government that has now embraced with passion a more moderate form of “Work Sets You Free”, by adopting an ideological model for assessing sickness and invalid’s beneficiaries for benefits in future. The Minister, Paula Bennett has already made it very clear, what the new regime will be once the ‘Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill’ will have been passed and implemented. The whole business of having a select committee listen to and read over 700 something submissions is just pure “theatre” and will not significantly bring about a “re-think”.

    READ Paula Bennet’s speech she held to “medical professionals” already on 26 September 2012:


    You will find clear references to the new “scientific findings” and “reforms” in the same area in the UK a few years ago (following previous reforms since about 1994 – under Thatcher, and happily continued under Tony Blair’s ‘New Labour’, now pushed further by the coalition government of Tories and Liberals there).

    To get an understanding what really is behind all this, read this, please (a MUST READ):


    and …



    A former Department of Work and Pensions Senior Medical Officer (fr. the UK), Sir Professor Mansel Aylward, has been advising Bennett and MSD already last year, and he is already involved in advising even Counties Manukau Disitrict Health Board on health reforms here in NZ. A supposedly “independent” panel was set up by him and CMDHB to work out ideas and plans as a kind of “think tank”. Prof. Aylward is even a “Board Chair” there. See this:


    There is much more that can be presented, and MSD and WINZ have already been using biased doctors that Principal Health Advisor Dr David Bratt and Dr Rankin trained since 2008:


    I never dreamt in my wildest nightmares, that NZ would adopt quasi “Nazi philosophy” when it comes to sick and disabled!

    • Naturesong 11.1


      If ending this thread was the purpose of your post, you failed xtasy.

      • xtasy 11.1.1


        Hah, it never was my intention to “end” the thread, far from it.

        And this “Godwin law” is not really relevant here, as my reference is to the term and attached philosophy of “work sets (you) free”, which is practically going to be applied in an admittedly “moderate” form in the new welfare approach that Bennett and Natzies intend to bring in this year.

        • rosy

          IMO if a policy matches a 1930s policy there’s nothing wrong with calling it like it is. The ideological model that is being used to push ill people into destitution fits the bill. It’s not that they’re opening work camps, it’s the constant belief that people are skivers and there are distinguishing features of the worthy and worthless poor.

          Call it as you see it xtasy, others can call it differently if they like.

  12. kiwi_prometheus 12

    The great thing about self confessed Deconstructionist like Karol is that they can be deconstructed.

    Why does she throw stat figures out there when deconstructionism says there is no objective reality for those stats to actually attache too?

    Why does Karol even try to wield stats as a weapon when deconstructionism says that science is just another “discourse” – a biased, relative, social construction – no more valid or invalid than astrology or radical feminist “science”.

    Karol needs to explain how she holds to a post structuralist philosophy while simultaneously making truth statements about the world.

    • fatty 12.1

      Didn’t this happen the other day? She answered this and you disappeared from the conversation here

      • McFlock 12.1.1

        Funny, k_p seems to have done the same thing with yesterday’s open mike, too. Must not be able to carry a thought past a day. That would be when the ideology chip reboots, I guess.

        • QoT

          He’s clearly an escapee from This Is Not My Life. He goes to bed and the network reboots his brain to the original settings of his fantasy life, where he’s an awesome, cutting debater who slays all who oppose him with his massive wit.

    • karol 12.2

      You need to get away from labels, K_P, and rigid following of selected theories.

      You’re the one telling me I don’t recognise science and material reality. I most certainly do.

      But I also think it’s necessary to be careful how the science and statistics are used, and the way they are represented through socially constructed discourses. The contradiction is only in your mind. I don’t see you backing up your claims. You just throw around some theoretical labels.

      Now, do you, being such a strong left winger, have anything to say about Bennett’s manipulation of statistics, and the struggles of people on low incomes? Anything to say about Outofworkkiwi’s experiences? Or about the arguments and links provided by xtasy? Or are you trying to run a distraction and divert from these?

    • QoT 12.3

      Why you gotta squeeze people into pigeonholes, k_p? You don’t need to be in constant battle mode, with this us vs them mentality. It’s clearly just leaving you exasperated and confused.

  13. Afewknowthetruth 13

    You need to learn the read properly, Gormless.

    By 2015: breakdown of current economic arrangements.

    By 2020: most things people currently take for granted become unavailable.

    By 2025: complete collapse of the industrial system.

    By 2060: the Earth become largely uninhabitable for humans. (Could be as early as 2035).

    • ropata 13.1

      2012 Quetzalcoatl
      2013 Flying Saucers
      2014 Antichrist takes over
      2015 Jesus shows up to smite everyone (except Israel)
      2016 Cthulhu??
      2017 Morgoth??

    • Olwyn 13.2

      Let us suppose AFKTT, that everything you are saying is correct, and that we are doomed. In the meantime, it is still worthwhile to challenge injustice, to give a hand to those who need it, and to practically address the problems that lie within our present capacity. If we are just going to let go and surrender to our basest instincts because we are doomed, the earth will be glad to see the back of us. Do not forget after all that individually each of us are doomed, but we still try to do what we can with the time that we have.

    • One Tāne Huna 13.3

      AFKTT: 18th May, 2011:

      “The government-rigged official numbers are concealing the truth for the moment (does anyone actually believe the official unemployment, deficit, or CPI numbers?), but there will soon come a time when all hell will break lose … around 2013 the way things are looking.”

      12 January 2011:

      “…partial or full economic collapse (2012-15) followed by complete collaspe (sic) of western-style civilisation (probably 2016-20)

      Tick tock 😀

  14. dave 14

    “So it is hard to work out exactly how many sole parents went off DPF”


  15. Richard Down South 15

    The trouble is, the economy… when the Government’s main concern, is slashing costs NO MATTER the cost, which private employer is going to look at the Government’s leadership, and go ‘OH, WHAT A GREAT TIME TO EXPAND AND HIRE MORE STAFF’

    Most businesses are at best, battening down the hatches, cutting costs where possible, and if people leave, they think twice as to whether they need to replace them, and spread the workload between current staff. Many are laying people off or cutting hours.

    My work place, currently for my shift is down at least 2 people (that quit/were fired) and they arent expected to be replaced any time soon

  16. Blue 16

    Getting benefit numbers down is easy.

    Step 1: Make some new rules designed to get rid of as many people as possible.
    Step 2: Done.

    Oh, you wanted an actual solution? National doesn’t do those.

    • kiwicommie 16.1

      How National’s welfare works:
      1. No benefit for two-three months after losing job. This way they can hide rising unemployment figures for that period.

      2. Unemployment benefit is well below poverty line, unless you are on forced training courses.

      3. Training courses last at most for a year, for university students at most a year. These are used again to hide unemployment figures.

      4. Once training courses are used up the government offers no more assistance i.e. your benefit is cut and you are forced out on the street.

      5. Forget getting help, there is none. The welfare system no longer pays for medical or health treatment. You are on your own.

  17. Macro 17

    What it all boils down to is that there are now more and more people sleeping on other peoples couches.
    To ensure that people don’t cotton on to this sad fact – Bennett has taken the step of only releasing the figures that are positive to her cause, and withholding all the other information that was normally released, so that a true analysis of the state of affairs cannot be made. Further more she now releases these cherry picked figures in an untimely fashion (ie now every 3 months rather than every month). Any RWN who thinks they know the truth of the matter is sadly being misled by propaganda of the most hideous kind.

  18. AC 18

    Are the unemployed moving to Oz? Are they getting their airline tickets paid for? This government is disgusting with their cover ups and lies. They just play with the numbers to suit their purpose. Performance pay for politicians would fix this. If they were penalized for the amount of lies they said during a term, most would be living out of the back of their cars.

  19. xtasy 19

    And this will be the new kind of “set of tools” that will be used by NatACT in government, and likely also taken over as “somehow suitable intruments” by a possible new Labour led government, in order to ensure that benefit numbers will go down even further!

    The ESA214 Work Capability Assessment, designed for and required by DWP, and applied by Atos Healthcare (doing the assessing) in the UK already.

    It will be pretty hard to be classed as “not fit” for work or work related activities while going through this one.


    It is not quite was some mad folk did in the mid to late 1930s in Central Europe, it looks much more “humane”, but I am sure, it may for some reason not be a “coincidence” that over 1,100 lives were lost as a consequence of disabled and seriously sick being classed as “able to work” in the UK between January and August 2011.

    Some ended their lives themselves, others could not cope and broke down or whatever, leading to fatalities there. Yes, there are some commenters here, who would just love this being introduced into NZ, right??!!

    Now this one may be the slightly changed and “improved’ version, but still, you have to be without legs, otherwise similarly seriously incapacitated or terminally ill, to pass this as not fit for work.

  20. I am on a benefit but I think the amount that I get is a rip off and I want a pay increase by at least 10% by the end of January 2013.

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