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Little: ACC levies need to come down

Written By: - Date published: 2:30 pm, March 8th, 2015 - 30 comments
Categories: ACC, Andrew Little, labour, national - Tags: , , ,

Most of the attention on today’s episode of Q&A focused on the two biggest issues in NZ politics at the moment – the Northland by-election and Nicky Hager’s most recent GCSB revelations.

But in Andrew Little’s interview with Heather du Plessis-Allan – amongst her blatant, failed attempts to get him to say “I’m telling people to vote for Winston” and “I support 90-day trials” – he raised another issue which highlights some of the weird hypocrisies of our present government.

Labour has an independent report which estimates that business and workers are being collectively overcharged about $350 million every year in ACC levies. ACC is currently running robust reserves, much of which is invested overseas. If some of that unneeded cash were returned to the pockets of people and businesses, it would create enough economic activity to generate 700 new jobs.

For workers at the bottom of the heap, or small businesses running on tight margins, even a few hundred dollars extra per year could be a significant factor in keeping their heads above water.

The irony is this: the Government’s repeatedly had advice – from that well-know communist thinktank, the Treasury – that ACC levies are too high. They’ve taken baby steps towards it, with cuts totalling about $115 million coming into force in April.

This is the National Party – the party which slashed the top tax rate during a recession so its wealthy backers could buy more investment properties, the party which campaigned hard on the idea that Labour wanted to introduce “FIVE NEW TAXES!!!!” – refusing to cut an unnecessary cost which would actually help families, businesses and the wider economy. Purely by coincidence, those unnecessary levies (as Grant Robertson did back in February) are probably helping to keep the Government’s books in surplus.

It kind of tells you everything about their priorities, doesn’t it?

30 comments on “Little: ACC levies need to come down”

  1. just saying 1

    Except they aren’t too high, they would probably be about right if ACC was functioning as a pay-as-you-go scheme according to the social contract that ACC was set up to be.

    It would cost much more than ACC currently spends on claimants to provide fair compensation for paid workers and prompt, appropriate treatment for all injuries, but that’s not what’s been happening. Amongst the severely injured or permanently disabled (with a few exceptions), it is really only those with the means and nous to have a lawyer on retainer from the outset get any kind of justice from the scheme that we all pay for. These are often the comfortably off with less severe injuries.

    While most people who can fill in a form get a discount on treament for minor scrapes, only the upper-middle class and up are effectively covered for serious harm now, and that suits the management at Labour just fine. This is the social milieu from which Labour’s top brass and parliamentarians are drawn and they have always looked after their own. It was Labour that turned ACC into a compulsary savings scheme for the government by making the corporation gather huge reserves, ostensibly to pay for future costs, while at the same time, systematically denying entitlements, gaslighting claimants, and screwing over the working class, particularly those in manual jobs that took the hardest toll on their bodies. Ironically, one of the main reasons that ACC was originally created was so the community could look after those whose health was ruined by work that the whole community relied on and benefited from.

    • Tracey 1.1

      I agree with you but those deficiencies are not why they are not cutting levies… they are neither cutting nor providing the service as intended.

      In addition half of ACC decisions are now being overturned on appeal so this government is seeking to remove the court as an Appeal process from claimants and replacing it with government appointed tribunal members.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.2

      It would cost much more than ACC currently spends on claimants to provide fair compensation for paid workers and prompt, appropriate treatment for all injuries, but that’s not what’s been happening. Amongst the severely injured or permanently disabled (with a few exceptions), it is really only those with the means and nous to have a lawyer on retainer from the outset get any kind of justice from the scheme that we all pay for. These are often the comfortably off with less severe injuries.

      Yep. I’ve got people in my family who have never been able to claim for ACC because they’re self-employed. ACC is brilliant but it needs fixing as well and part of that fixing is to take it back to a pay-go system and to have it so that everyone benefits from it and not just those on PAYE or those who can afford the lawyers.

    • Shane Le Brun 1.3

      I agree, how about they do their job!!! They will try anything to shirk their responsibilities, a mid 20s woman with 2 herniated lumbar discs from a fall, and they will sniff out weather they can pin the pain, nerve deficits etc on endometriosis!!! Patients with the worst pain disorder in the book, CRPS, getting denied funding for a medicine as not suitable (Sativex) despite being approved by 2 specialists and the MOH!!!

  2. millsy 2

    We should be reinstating the services that Nick Smith cut back in 2009/10 — physiotherapy, heading aid coverage, etc. Not offering tax cuts.

    • tc 2.1

      +1 and stop with the invasive case management where surgeons penny pinch in not doing the required procedures for other less effective measures.

      The patient ends up back at the doctors with the same issue but hey presto it’s a pre existing condition so not ACC’s problem as the surgeons wash their hands, pardon the pun, rather than admit they got it wrong and it didn’t work.

      ACC, a world class system F’d over by NACT ideological tinkering to save a few sheckles for the top end tax cuts.

    • So true Millsy.
      ACC will not cover Hearing Aids if they can weasel their way out of a claim and that just stinks.
      I know from experience.

      They hire ANT specialists that report to ACC, with an answer they are looking for.
      I was told when I walked in his door that if ACC did not like his report to them that they would ask for another opinion.
      Application declined despite being deaf from work related noise.

      The Specialist gets his commission, ACC gets out of covering the claim.
      Creepy Nick Smith has a lot to answer for.

  3. coaster 3

    maybe they could bring back free physio visits for acc claimants.

    i still cant work out if national are flying by the seat of there pants and public opinions, totally inept and relying on spin and lies to get by, or dodgy as hell with a long term plan to stay in power and remove basic rights for the common person.

    personally id like to see acc back to what was intended, and id like to see the media stop refering to them as an insurer.

  4. Michael 4

    Little was very good in that interview.

    • nadis 4.1

      perhaps we could also decline ACC coverage to tourists – they tend to come here with travel insurance, but not claim on it, using ACC instead.

      • dv 4.1.1

        Problem with that Nadis it undermines the no fault.
        I can see the insurance co lawyers doing well as the insurance co sue the party at fault.

        And what about those without insurance?

      • tc 4.1.2

        Small change, move on.

        The issue isn’t dem damm foreigners it’s a belligerent government trying to pull the wool over the sheeples eyes. ACC is fine despite their ham fisted tinkering.

      • Tracey 4.1.3

        can you post your source for that?

        • Colonial Rawshark

          Tourists get to use our ACC system but they do not get to sue our health system. Fair trade. If you want to claw the money back claw it back from tourism operators and the like.

      • Murray Rawshark 4.1.4

        Tourists are not the problem. Governments since 1984 are.

  5. ropata 5

    Last time I talked to ACC they demanded $4000, that’s pretty excessive for IT work, not sure how their system works but I can’t imagine a private insurer acting like the ACC mafia

    • just saying 5.1

      I agree they operate like the mafia.
      But the levies aren’t just a reflection of the relative risks in different jobs, they reflect how much ACC would have to pay at 80 percent of levied income, if for example you were injured at work or anywhere else, for as long as the injury prevents a return to work.
      A youngish person earning six figures injured in a skiing accident, for example, would be entitled to earnings related compensation until they turned 65 if a permanent injury ensued. That could easily be a couple of million at the maximum rate. Much more with health costs and attendant care thrown in.
      I don’t think the fact that high income earners are much more likely to be able to access and maintain their entitlements is factored into the levy equation or you’d be likely paying even more 🙂

      • my income isn’t actually that great, I had one excellent year and now ACC thinks I am totally loaded

        When I expressed shock to the person on the phone she said that builders get really hammered by ACC levies, so hmm you may have a point.

        also when I smashed my leg at a steel factory in ’94, ACC was much appreciated, and it led me to re-think my career options

  6. feijoa 6

    Yes, bring ACC back to it’s true values set up by Sir Owen Woodhouse in 1974. A man of great ideas

    • Molly 6.1

      Agree. Have followed a friend through her dealings with ACC over several years. It is not functioning as it should. Forget about dropping the levies now. Reinstate the service, and then see what needs to be done about levies and collection methods.

      • Shane Le Brun 6.1.1

        Agree completely, the Greens have some good ideas on how to straighten out the corruption…..

  7. RedBaronCV 7

    I don’t think it should all be pay as you go . Otherwise offshore corporate entities set up here, do something toxic and then vanish having paid few levies leaving behind sick workers.

    • miravox 7.1

      … then vanish having paid few levies leaving behind sick workers.

      ‘Sick’ workers don’t get ACC, only injured ones. But that’s a whole other story, I guess.

      • RedBaronCV 7.1.1

        Sorry I used “sick” in the wider sense of the word. Things like asbestos related illnesses.

  8. RedBaronCV 8

    Also note how employer levies and those who own large late model cars are getting the bulk of the levy reductions announced. Work and non work pool costs look like they run at around the same level but only employers get the downtick. As for the cars – looks much like giving trucks lower levies because truckies are not injured at the same rate – that is suffered by those whom they hit

  9. Stuart Munro 9

    My impression was that the excessive ACC levies were preparation for its stealth privatisation – a good area to attack the Gnats, because explaining that would lose them even more votes – so they just have to wear the attack and look stupid.

    • Molly 9.1

      Agree Stuart. I commented on that in the Herald several years ago.

      If Labour (and/or a left coalition) gets in and reduces those levies without reinstating an effective system, they are continuing the destruction pre-privitisation that National have started.

  10. Michael 10

    I’d prefer to see ACC actually compensating and rehabilitating injured New Zealanders rather than the deceitful bullshit exercises they currently employ. However, ACC has practiced its dirty tricks against injured kiwis for many years now, since the fourth Labour government appointed a crook to run it. There is no evidence that Labour has the political will to retore public confidence in ACC, and other state bureaucracies, by making it do its job. Until that happens, I predict Labour will continue to lack genuine popular support for its parliamentary wing.

  11. feijoa 11

    Never forget the power behind the throne – in this case the Insurance Council is a HUGE donator to the National Party.
    If ACC was profitable they would be gifted it by the NACTS
    Sorry, kiwis mending from their injuries is the last thing on the NACTs minds…………

  12. Atiawa 12

    How much does ACC have invested and where/what is it invested in?

    Anyone please.

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