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Looking tough, wasting money

Written By: - Date published: 9:06 am, December 23rd, 2009 - 57 comments
Categories: unemployment, welfare - Tags:

So Paula Bennett wants to force people on the dole to reapply after a year. At best, it’s a waste of money by adding more bureaucracy. At worst, it will leave people who are already in poverty destitute for weeks.

You can lose your dole already if you don’t meet the conditions. In particular, if you don’t apply for jobs you can lose the benefit. So, what is canceling someone’s dole and forcing them to reapply going to add to that? Nothing. If you don’t meet the conditions for getting the dole, you shouldn’t be getting it already. If you do meet the conditions for getting the dole, then you should continue to get it even if you are forced to reapply after a year. Under Bennett’s policy, the change in people getting the dole should be zero. Which doesn’t seem worth forcing the ministry to process thousands more dole applications a year.

It’s not a cheap process, approving a dole application. It takes at least three face to face meetings to get on the dole. The cost per application to the taxpayer will be in the order of hundreds of dollars. And it will all be for nought.

The other problem is that it can take weeks to get on the dole. If your dole is automatically canceled after a year and they then have to reapply and go through the meetings and stuff, you could be left without an income for a month or more. There’s a nice little kick in the guts for a person who is genuinely entitled to the dole, a month of destitution.

Let’s not forget we’re talking about a tiny amount of people. 6654 people out of 60,000 on the dole have been getting it for more than a year. Rather than expending effort and public money in a redundant attempt to look tough by targeting a few thousand people who are already subject to checks to ensure they are entitled to get the dole, Bennett should be working on creating work opportunities for the quarter of a million Kiwis who don’t have work but desperately want it.

But, as we well know by now, Key’s ministers aren’t interested in delivering policies that really matter. All they’re interested in is parading around, talking tough. Meanwhile, hundreds more Kiwis join the ranks of the unemployed every week.

57 comments on “Looking tough, wasting money ”

  1. ieuan 1

    Firstly 11% (6635 out of 60,000) is hardly a ‘tiny’ amount, it’s a significant amount.

    Secondly a time limit on the dole might motivate people to look a bit harder for a job and that can’t be a bad thing.

    Our social welfare system should be a safety net and not a life style.

    • Chess Player 1.1

      I agree re the ‘safety net’ concept.

      Time for some tough love for some of these wasters. The folks that are genuinely down on their luck in the short term get a bad name from being lumped in the same bucket as these losers.

      • IrishBill 1.1.1

        Yeah because all those people out of work for years during the great depression were lazy and in the 90’s a whole lot of Kiwis just decided they didn’t want to work any more.

      • lprent 1.1.2

        So how does diverting resources from finding those short-termers work to making long-term unemployed help? Your statement makes no sense.

        Alternatively, much of the long-term unemployment is structural and related to

        • Location – if you live in an area with limited number of jobs – Northland and the area from Opotiki to Gisbourne come to mind.
        • Lack of employable skills
        • Incapacity of some kind – frequently mental illness

        Wouldn’t this money be better spent dealing with these issues? Of course that would cost more than making a pointless bureaucratic change and would require that Paula thinks – so it may be placed in the too hard basket.

        She is doing the third one. The growth in sickness benefits has been quite remarkable under her tenure. But that could have more to do with making the unemployment benefits numbers look better.

        • Chess Player 1.1.2.1

          If the problem is Location – move

          If the problem is Lack of employable skills – get some – there are massive resources pumped into training and education these days, and you don’t have to pay interest on the loans

          The problem is really that these people refuse to consider that they themselves have more control over their own destiny than they would like to admit – their sense of entitlement heavily outweighs their sense of responsibility.

          Not helped by folks such as yourself who keep making excuses for them. If you want to pay for people to stay on the dole for 25 years just because they won’t make some effort themselves, that should be your choice – but not forced on the rest of us, who do make an effort and take the necessary steps to deal with life,, whatever it throws at them.

          • Draco T Bastard 1.1.2.1.1

            What if the lack of employable skills is also a result of mental illness?
            What if people aren’t getting a better education because they can’t afford to? Yes, you can get student loans that don’t have any interest – but you can’t actually pay a mortgage or raise the kids on a student loan. They know exactly how much control they have over their own life – SFA. They quite often don’t have the resources available to them to do anything. Poverty be-gets poverty.

            You will always get people who will abuse the system, ie, Double Dipton. This doesn’t mean that you then go out on a pogrom on everybody using the system.

            • Chess Player 1.1.2.1.1.1

              “but you can’t actually pay a mortgage or raise the kids on a student loan.”

              So, some choices have to be made…..

              “Poverty be-gets poverty.”

              Only if you accept that that is the case…..

              • Draco T Bastard

                So, someone who wants to further themselves and has family and a home should just throw them away?

      • Pascal's bookie 1.1.3

        “I agree re the ‘safety net’ concept.”

        Glad to hear it. Safety nets are good.

        You know what makes a safety net suck? A bunch of things.

        Too much rigidity for one thing. Having people sized holes in it is another thing. Positioning it too close to the ground is yet another thing.

        All of these things make the safety net suck. If you are in favour of these things in a safety net, you are not really in favour of safety nets. If these things make the safety net cheaper, it is a false economy.

    • Bright Red 1.2

      Don’t know where you live, ieuan, but round these parts $200 a week doesn’t buy a ‘lifestyle’.

  2. Draco T Bastard 2

    All they’re interested in is parading around, talking tough.

    And, the most important point, lowering wages which such a policy will do as well.

  3. BC 3

    There is only so much motivation one can have without the skills to find and in turn gain employment. I would say that the majority of the 6635 out 60,000 who have been on the unemployment benefit for over a year are people who have fallen through the cracks of society.

    They would lack a number of simple skills that employers look for consequently making them unemployable. The self styled “solo mum westie” Bennett should be channelling the money towards up skilling and job schemes.

    Interesting how this story has followed yesterdays about the so called “dole families” collecting thousands p/week.

    Just shows that this is an orchestrated attempt to score dirty political points by targeting those most vulnerable and without a voice. Repugnant.

  4. Pete 4

    I hardly think that motivation is a factor for the majority of people looking for work (Ieuan). The reality is that UB is a paltry amount, and the stigma attached to receiving tax-payer funded support is not particularly great.

    While some will always abuse the system, we shouldn’t repond by being overly punitive to families and individuals who rely on this support to get by until a job can be sourced. Without understanding the fundamental reasons why people have been long-term beneficiaries we fail to recognise how we can prevent more of the same in the long-term.

    While I agree in principle that checks should be done, I’m also a bit confused in thinking that this already occurs, at least for people on UB.

    The major concern I have with this proposal is that people on an Invalid’s Benefit are likely to have to meet compulsary part-time work obligations. Isn’t the whole purpose of the Invalid’s Benefit that it supports people who are unable to work due to a long-term or unlikely to change medical condition or disability?

    If, and it’s a big if, the changes proposed recognise individual circumstances and are based on quantified and qualified evidence that they will reduce the ‘abuse’ without unduly impacting the needy then that’s fine, but it’s bound to be a lame work-around rushed through at the last minute without consideration for anything but what can be reported to the knee-jerk crowd on talkback et al.

    …then the MSM will report how well the government is faring in the latest horse-race polls *yawn*.

  5. prism 5

    Eddie makes good points. These ‘wasters’ probably on existence wages when they have work, are put through hoops already. They often have many problems which they need help with. In some cases having the responsibility of being a parent, and also finding a job that gives them time to do the basic parenting on their often existence wages, a happy life is nearly impossible. People in this situation who manage to cope well usually are those who have the help and backing of their family.
    Talking about unemployed people’s lifestyles as if they are having a great time is an error. Going to WINZ and getting some snotty person talking down to you with the attitudes of earlier comments here is a sort of purgatory and doesn’t help in getting a job.

  6. burt 6

    lprent

    Location if you live in an area with limited number of jobs Northland and the area from Opotiki to Gisbourne come to mind.

    Well then you move. Or did I miss the handout of the tokens that entitle me to live where I want supported by the govt when I can’t support myself ?

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      You may not have noticed burt but it costs to move. People who are @ less than subsistence level can’t afford to.

      • prism 6.1.1

        burt what are you talking about? The govt, either Nat or Labour already brought out a list of places where there are no jobs where they will not pay out unemployment benefit.

  7. tc 7

    This and other announcements about privatisation, SuperShity, Education, Tax reform etc are all timed to give the righteous right that fellgood about voting for NACT factor over the break.

    I don’t have an issue with Basher Bennett’s intent as long as the dole isn’t cut off as it’s such a piddly amount really and as usual the crooked/lazy few taint the genuine/deserving masses…..growing under this do nothing gov’t.

    As long as she’s annoying those who NACT traditionally despise….thumbs up from the party as she’s got a nice limo/office/package now and would you like some powers to abuse with that Ms Bennett……yes please Mr Key Sir, thank you.

    Her naivity an inexperience will see her lose her seat as she ‘represents’ the west not remuera……watch out and see if she moves up the list like Worth was.

  8. Press Release. 23.12.09.

    Prime Minister John Key announced plans today to cancel Paula Bennett after a year.

    Key said he was concerned about the benefit revelations. Though most Ministers needed their benefits and did not abuse the system, the Government would crack down on those who looked like a grinch at Xmas, because everyone knows that Snoopy rules the festive season.

    Other changes under consideration by the Government are understood to include work-testing for Deputy Prime Ministers whose youngest child has turned six, compulsory budgetary advice for ministers from coalition partners who claim frequent grants for overseas travel, and part-time work obligations for some old mates who know where the bodies are buried.

    The Prime Minister will shortly be taking a seasonal break from his fulltime position on the beach at Waikiki to spend a couple of weeks enjoying his new hobby of running New Zealand.

    • prism 8.1

      And after his break Key could go apple picking on contract. That’s real work. Or for a change he could pack them and see if he could keep up with the fast ones – view, pick with one hand toss to other, place in position in carton all in a flash then repeat, 50 average to a carton and hundreds? of cartons a day. You know you have done a day’s work there, not just jawed and feinted over and over when faced with important decisions.

  9. randal 9

    this argument is meat and drink to the wannabees from the gnats.
    they love nothing better than a fallacy of compostion to smear and besmirch everybody and anybody who does not have a job.
    this government is supposedly the government of business.
    why arent they creating new business and supplying new jobs.
    thats their job.
    why cant they do that?

  10. Olwyn 10

    There is something low and unpleasant about inviting people to act like pigeons, and rush to peck at the one who is bleeding, and sad about how readily some respond to this ghastly invite. Grab your pitchforks and go for the dole bludger, so you won’t notice when Rodney Hyde privatises the water, etc. And if you do notice, you won’t complain because otherwise you too will look like a povo. One thing everyone should have learned from nine years of Labour is that if people are employable they generally prefer to work. I also wonder at these suggestions being flung around at Christmas – so much for Good King Wenceslas.

  11. BLiP 11

    What? After yesterday? Yet more Christmas cheer and beneficence for the beloved underclass from our Basher Bennett and the government?

    Thanks National Ltd® – I’m lovin’ it. Y’all have a lovely Christmas too. Eat lots of cake.

  12. burt 12

    Draco

    You may not have noticed burt but it costs to move.

    Yep, getting the swimming pool shifted is pretty expensive. Also adds wear and tear to the new tyres you just put on the 2 year old car.

    • Draco T Bastard 12.1

      /facepalm

      Really, there’s no point in engaging you at all but I’ll try.

      Not every body is going to abuse the system.

    • prism 12.2

      burt you are green with envy. Give up trying to be a good hard working person, the odds are against you. Give up your job and go for the unemployment and live the easy life! You’ll notice how just trying to repair things runs up large GST payments, getting new things is probably better because the financial system has don’t pay for ………months, no interest for…..years etc. If you can just keep running, your momentum might carry you along and you won’t sink in the ordure.

  13. gitmo 13

    Why is there so much outrage asking people to reapply for the dole in return for receiving it over an extended period ?

    Surely it’s more outrageous that rorters like that family in Christchurch are continuing to be paid after 25 years when there’s very likely to be far more needy and deserving families in need ?

  14. ak 14

    No, what’s “outrageous”, git-for-brains, is a poll-driven tory administration dredging through files and releasing selected private details of a few individuals in a blatant attempt to garner pre-holiday season popularity by tarnishing the most unfortunate sector of society – at a time when examples of the most privileged sector having got away with literally millions of taxpayer funds are rampant; and ignored.

    What’s outrageous to the point of nausea is the sight of lazy press hacks who dare to profess the status of independent commentary, not only accepting this filthy, divisive propaganda without the slightest investigation or question, but repeating the breaches of privacy and disseminating it verbatim to the gormless cheer of rabid airheads such as yourself. Merry Christmas.

    • gitmo 14.1

      I thought the papers have been going after the frauds in the finance sector quite strongly – it’s a pity we don’t have regulation to take them to the cleaners ?

      But well done on your pointless little rant have you now finished fisting yourself up the shitter ?

  15. burt 15

    ak

    I’m happy to pay for that new fence around your pool, with the amount you drink it would be a shame if you staggered and fell into it while running around in circles defending your right to rort my taxes. I have no need for a fence as I don’t have a pool, I’m just a tax payer and I don’t deserve to have that level of luxury.

  16. Roger 16

    What a surprise, our vacuous Minister of Social Development and Employment gets out her bennie bashing stick in a populist move that will achieve nothing positive. I suspect that, as per usual, a crisis is being created where one doesn’t exist. But lets assume for a second that there is a problem that needs solving. If this new measure is to catch the people who are unemployed for over 12 months because they are not putting effort into their search, then looking at the conditions required to gain the unemployment benefit would be better. For example, if a person with drug/alcohol addiction is put into a rehab programme and doesn’t attend, they are cut off.

    If it is to catch out the abusers such as the Harris family, change the rules involving what is abhorrent about their claims. eg, a benefit recipient should be forced to sell any properties other than their residential address and live off the proceeds of that before even being able to have their claim looked into. Another option would be to investigate and weed these people out.

    If they are too dangerous to visit or investigate, a Machaeavellian approach would be to feign incompetence and ‘accidentally’ forget to pay his benefit one week, get the police down to the WINZ office before he comes storming in and when he makes threats, arrest him. Then investigate while he’s behind bars.

    This idea of making genuine people who are near unemployable reapply for the benefit after 12 months is really just a nuisance that will achieve nothing.

    • prism 16.1

      I don’t like the name Roger any more, but you put a shine on it again with your smart invention for drawing the real thieving bennies out of their hides.

      • Roger 16.1.1

        I know what you mean. It is hard being a guy named Roger who is interested in politics considering the reputation of previous ones.

  17. tc 17

    What papers do you read Gitmo ?

    I haven’t seen any of this ‘going after’ you mention and ak summed it up describing them as “lazy press hacks who dare to profess the status of independent commentary..” I have mates in Oz that are professionl journos and they piss themselves at what we have as a 4th estate and are jealous of all the juicy material they’d thrive on being swept under the ‘don’t criticise the govt’ carpet.

    Gaynor had a go and got hammered..but he’s a commentator….the blokes on TV business are sycophants chosen for looks and nodding agreement to anything.

    Your point about regulation’s a good one and a weakness in NZ where the cowboys like Hotchin will lay low and do it all again……Rebstock and Diplock lacked the tools/resources and probably ability.

    I was very critical of labor not regulating that industry……but then controlling business isn’t a labor strength…..it’s a weakness. TVNZ heels at NACT’s heels whereas it was a badly behaved SOE with Labor in charge…….daddy’s home so lets behave now.

    • gitmo 17.1

      You might be right – I tend to look out for stories about the “filthy few financiers” in the papers so may have overestimated the amount of coverage – I certainly enjoyed the piece on one of them being roughed up and asked to leave one of the eateries in Auckland.

      I think the job they’ve done on Hotchin on TV and in the media ain’t too bad and would be amazed if anyone ever invested with him again in NZ but it’s extraordinary how often these turds turn up again and the grey rinse brigade happily show them their life savings. … as for TVNZ I don’t think most of them give a toss who’s in power as long as the pay packet’s full – pack of rorters and gits.

  18. Sam 18

    This government really ran out of ideas after 2 months didn’t it?

  19. randal 19

    yes sam.
    they ran out of constructive ideas but the destructive ideas they have are just gathering force.
    they supposed to be the business party but when are they going to announce some new jobs.
    oh umm I forgot.
    2024, one year before brashs master plan takes effect.
    ho ho ho.

  20. The Chairman 20

    I can see the private prison operators rubbing their hands in anticipation of the increase in crime.

  21. The Chairman 21

    It’s a totally different tune up town.

    Is Christchurch’s City Council chief ex ecutive worth $470,400??

    An annual performance review, conducted by councillors in private last week, voted 10 to two to approve the increase.

    Only Councillors Yani Johanson and Sally Buck opposed the move.

    His pay has jumped $99,575 over the past two years.

    The package does not include undisclosed reimbursements for home telephone and personal professional fees.

    More here: http://tinyurl.com/yzwqajx

  22. tc 22

    Is Christchurch’s City Council chief executive worth $470,400?? indeed or recycling Rick Ellis at about 900k and then there’s the massive packages shelled out to a grumpy scotsman to sit atop a telco, a kanuck to mark time fronting the milk co-op, a power hungry smarmy lad to stride the NZX etc etc.

    Distribution of wealth….there’s only so much that can go around and the ruling class ensure they get as much as they possibly can regardless of climate…..year upon year upon year.

    It used to be said in the 80’s how can someone be worth 250k p.a objectively when all they really do is sit atop a machine and if they’re smart they don’t tinker too much(ralston), or too little(Gattung) and break the facade.

    This is how the rich keep getting richer….control and exploitation of markets/people pure and simple.

    Merry xmas

    • gitmo 22.1

      How about the rich that get poorer and the poor that get richer ?

      • Draco T Bastard 22.1.1

        Doesn’t happen in the real world, at least, not to a significant enough degree to be noticeable.

        • gitmo 22.1.1.1

          Bullshit it’s been happening for centuries and will continue to do so…… just doesn’t fit with your warped view of the world

          • Draco T Bastard 22.1.1.1.1

            Reality disagrees with you.

            Yes, it’s an assertion but it’s one that’s already been backed up by research linked to on this site.

            • rainman 22.1.1.1.1.1

              gitmo, there are 1000 billionaires, and 5 billion people making do on less than $10/day. This is a structural artefact of capitalism. There is some movement within these groups but the overall picture remains.

  23. Rex Widerstrom 23

    I’m nodding in agreement right up to the penultimate sentence, Eddie.

    All they’re interested in is parading around, talking tough.

    Actually I think it’s worse than that. There are some Ministers who’re doing an excellent job in their portfolios. Tim Groser and Chris Finlayson come immediately to mind. Rather than parade round talking tough, there are Ministers who are interested in quietly getting on with nailing down some achievements.

    But there’s a group that’s clearly out of their depth. And not just having a problem finding their feet but who’ve clearly been elevated to well beyond their level of competence. Head and shoulders above (below?) the others in this group is Paula Bennett, but there’s also Anne Tolley and Kate Wilkinson.

    Yet Key seems happy to float above the messes they’re making, presumably because it’s a good look to have women appearing on telly for the National brand, even if they’re woefully incompetent.

    Note I’m not suggesting all, or most, women are woefully incompetent politicians (there’s sufficient evidence to refute that on both Labour’s and National’s back bench right now, let alone if we look back at history).

    Merely that perhaps when gender equality (or any other sort of “equality”) becomes more important than competence, this is the result (Melissa Lee being a further example, if any were needed).

    There should be one factor and one factor only governing candidate selection and list ranking: the best person for the job. That it it not is nowhere better evidenced than in National’s current Cabinet.

    In short, if the only competent people National can attract happen to be middle aged white males then I for one would be more than happy to see a Cabinet composed entirely of such, rather than having diversity at the expense of competence.

    • prism 23.1

      I agree about the women politicians in Nat govt. Picking out what seem like soft subjects and giving them to the girls is not a good way of setting up to run the country.
      Social welfare is a big cost and needs to be run well, also education etc. neds somebody who hasn’t learned all they know by rote from their parents and teachers using tried and true old curriculums (ae) and certainties.

      • Bill 23.1.1

        Not looked at this closely, but if it is the case that Act policy is to be the pull on the National led government…allowing ostensibly right wing policy to be sold as moderate policy, then why would competent ministers be wanted in cabinet?

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