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National’s welfare policy

Written By: - Date published: 8:21 am, November 1st, 2011 - 48 comments
Categories: benefits, class war - Tags:

National’s got 60,000 more on benefits after 3 years. Nats’ plan: get 46,000 off in 4 years (only 11,000 into work, the rest?)
So, National’s welfare plan = 14,000 more on benefits 7 years after coming to power. Ambitious for New Zealand?
Where’s National plan to reduce corporate welfare? Like the $400m free irrigation they want to give farmers and keeping them out of the ETS.

48 comments on “National’s welfare policy ”

  1. Uturn 1

    Going by the story you link to, their phrasing says 11,000 people will be off a benefit into part-time work.

    Liveable part-time wage? After Key said last night that no one in minimum wage full-time work could expect a liveable wage? So off a benefit into poverty and starvation?

    I hope it is just foolish media mutter-speak.

  2. just saying 2

    So what’s it gonna be Phil? Have you got the “balls” to stand against the bullies, and defend the poorest, sickest, and the most powerless. Or are you going to simper about the ‘innocent children’ from a safe distance, and helpfully whistle the bullies’ dogs for them?

  3. Carol 3

    I noticed this in the Stuff article on the leaked proposal:

    It will also see a significant change in the way beneficiaries are dealt with by the state, through intensive case management in a way similar to the way ACC manages people to get them back to work sooner.

    Having fairly recently been involved in an accident that significantly damaged a limb, and still being under ACC I have some misgivings about how this is operating.

    Overall I was pleased with how ACC kicked in immediately covering the immediate aftermath of the accident (one lengthy and a smaller operation, a period in hospital etc.)

    But my first dealings with ACC, case manager etc, when I was still quite disabled and suffering from the aftermath of significant shock to my system, definitely put the emphasis on getting me back to work ASAP, rather than on what was best for me and my recovery. This pressure was not good for my spirits at the time.

    There is a lot of extra paper work involved, and how is this working out with National’s drive to cut backroom staff? – and I underwent an on site workplace assessment carried out by an agency that was contracted by ACC. The Agency came up with the same conclusion that I had told ACC right at the beginning – ACC seemed to think I should be back at work within a week or two, showing ABSOLUTELY no understanding of my injury or the demands or my workplaces, even though they have the surgeon’s and physio’s reports.

    I am wondering now exactly how overworked the ACC “backroom staff” are? My case manager gives me a date when s/he will next call me, but doesn’t call till a week or 2 after that…. if I haven’t rung first.

    I have been waiting for over 3 weeks for ACC to renew my physio allocation, even though both my physio and my surgeon have requested it, and my physio claims to have rung ACC and complained – 3 weeks without physio at a crucial stage of my recovery…… WTF is going on?!!! My guess is ACC overload after the increase in emergencies during the RWC.

    So if steps to tighten up on ACC is the model for National’s welfare shake-up, it doesn’t bode well for beneficiaries.

    • Lanthanide 3.1

      ACC provide an absolute vital role. I think their problem is they’re just overworked and possibly underpaid. When you’ve got 20 client to deal with in a week it doesn’t leave much time to focus on each one. I guess the problem is that, like all parts of the health budget, increasing money spent would result in generally more pleasant experience for the client/patient, but probably wouldn’t result in a great financial return on the investment required.

      • Carol 3.1.1

        ACC provide an absolute vital role. I think their problem is they’re just overworked and possibly underpaid. When you’ve got 20 client to deal with in a week it doesn’t leave much time to focus on each one.

        Yes, that’s my guess, Lanthanide. I can’t comment on the last part of your comment as I don’t know enough about that.

    • NickS 3.2

      But my first dealings with ACC, case manager etc, when I was still quite disabled and suffering from the aftermath of significant shock to my system, definitely put the emphasis on getting me back to work ASAP, rather than on what was best for me and my recovery. This pressure was not good for my spirits at the time.

      There’s significant evidence that the longer you stay off work the harder it is to get back into it, but realistically ACC and WINZ need to realise that the current job market makes it rather difficult to find suitable jobs. Preferably there should be a volunteer system which can help people stay active and busy at least part time until they’re well enough to work , but preventing that from becoming a work-for-the-dole scheme may be slightly difficult. As would be coercing people into it if they’re still dealing with the mental side-effects of their injury/injuries…

      • Carol 3.2.1

        I’m back working on reduced hours and duties after a couple of months. That was what the workplace assessment was about. ACC look for reduced hours/duties options.

        My complaint was not to do with the long term issue. It was that the first communications I got from ACC, whilst still pretty shell-shocked, repeated the line that it was better for individuals to be working…. nothing about short or long term. And the first ACC interview I had was pushing this line, trying to get me back to work within a week or two. They eventually realised this was unrealistic. My gripe was that, they used a line about it being better for me, but they weren’t REALLY looking at what was best for me at that point, but what would cost ACC less.

        Also their focus has always been on the physical capability of my injured limb, and not how the accident had impacted on my mental state or energy levels.

        • NickS

          Whoops, should have made myself a bit clearer and included that forcing someone right off the bat has a high potential harm risk, and yeah, ACC etc need to focus on the individuals requirements more, rather than pigeon holing them…

          And congrats on being able to get back to work, I’m going slightly stir crazy due to only have SJS really available, and so nothing steady :/

          • Carol

            Yes, I got that you weren’t pushing the ACC line, Nick. Actually, overall, I’m probably in a better position than you, Nick, so I felt very bad reading about your situation. I’m at the latter end of my work life, and have a part time permanent job. I did have some contract work, but my injury may mean I find it harder to get such work in the future. But I have enough to live on (my lifestyle is frugal/modest).

            And, I totally see Nat’s welfare policy as a bennie-bashing dogwhistle, and doing nothing to create more jobs for for those who need them, especially the young. I hope things improve for your soon, Nick.

            • NickS

              Eh, I have happy pills, ergo the situation is never “that bad” 😛

              Just waiting for Godot really…

              Thanks though 😀

  4. One Anonymous Bloke 4

    The dog whistle is loud and clear – the response needs to be loud and clear: we don’t need welfare reforms we need jobs! NZ had close to full employment four years ago, obviously people want to work! You remember when the unemployed fraudulently misrepresented the value of investment products and crashed the global economy? Neither do I. So why are they the ones being punished?

    • Tombstone 4.1

      Bang on!! Couldn’t have said it better. Jobs not bloody welfare reform.

    • NickS 4.2


      Damn straight, I’m looking daily on Student Job Search for stuff to keep me sane whilst on the sickness benefit and looking for long term part time work I can do (no sales/retail experience or licence + long term depression /sigh).

  5. ak 5

    2005: Orewa One Maori bashing
    2008: Thinly-veiled “Nanny” misogeny and $50/wk bribe
    2011: Thinly-veiled beneficiary-bashing

    Been done, boys. Running out of targets….

  6. Roy 6

    Unfortunately, it seems that for some people, beneficiary-bashing never gets old.

    • Tiger Mountain 6.1

      Yep, and too many benny bashers have either been there themselves or are just a ‘90 day fire at will’ experience or missed car payment away from becoming one. Of course the WINZ obstacle course of ‘seminars’, staff hostility and mandatory meetings make it quite difficult to actually receive a pitiful benefit these days. Families and the streets absorb a lot of dispirited people.

  7. millsy 7

    People WILL be worse off as a result of these reforms, and mothers and their babies WILL be living rough on the streets. Thats what happened in places like Wisconsin, etc when Clinton brought in his welfare reform package.

    We’ll probably see more prostitution, crime, etc.

    Ive been watching documentaries about people in Victorian Britain, and the shocking levels of deprivation there, in a society where there was no welfare, and social programs were delivered by private charites, a place where workhouses and baby farms (single mothers gave their children to a matronly like figure who would bring them up, in return for a small fee – ‘standards of care’ varied) were common.

    People need to ask themselves if we want to head back there. It took two world wars and a Great Depression to make people realise that a welfare state, coupled with full employment, and tax funded social services, with the capitalist system kept in shackles, was the only way to lift living standards for all.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.1

      19th century Britain was the stew pot where the theory of laissez faire was first trailed and failed. Then, a hundred years later we went and did it again and are surprised that it doesn’t work.

      Any society where productivity is such that it doesn’t require 1 person to provide the necessities of 1 person (ie, where the society can be provided with all it needs with less than everyone working) will always have unemployment and poverty under laissez faire (neo-liberalism) capitalism. This is due to the capitalists not wanting to pay people who aren’t working and also working to decrease the number of people they have working.

  8. Lanthanide 8

    If cutting welfare spending by $1B is so easy to do, how come they didn’t do it sooner? How come Labour couldn’t manage it?

    Also on National Radio this morning was the news that for the first time ever, the ministry of education is now requesting school roll updates every 3 months from all schools and they then adjust their funding for services such as electricity and heating based on the roll. As school rolls (particularly in high schools) decline over the course of the year, this means school funding drops. A principal on the radio said that just because 5 people have left a class of 25 and now there are 20 left, it doesn’t mean that it suddenly costs less in electricity and heating for that class room.

    National are so desperate to make cuts from the public service that they’re resorting to these sneaky underhanded things wherever possible, because they know that it’ll fly under the radar and the public won’t find out about it. I think this really shows that all their talking points are just bullshit and that the public service in general is already run very efficiently.

    • insider 8.1

      But similarly they get more funding when new kids enrol, as happens during the year. Are they complaining about that too? This is just good accounting practise. If they have an argument with the base funding, no problem, but schools are not going to get far arguing for funding for students they don’t have.

      • Lanthanide 8.1.1

        “but schools are not going to get far arguing for funding for students they don’t have.”

        Tell me how a classroom going from 25 to 20 students suddenly uses less electricity than it used to?

        As for rolls increasing – yes, there could be more enrolments during the year. But that is generally not going to be the case for high school, where students start at the beginning of the year. New enrollments would be from families moving into the new school zone, but this is likely to be more than offset by year 11, 12 and especially 13 students leaving, and perhaps some year 9 and 10 students also.

        When a child moves from one school to another, one school loses while another gains, so even if you’re saying “well the new school will get more money”, the point is that there is still one school that is losing money while their fixed costs have not in fact decreased. Meanwhile the school that gained the student will be getting extra money while not incurring any increased costs.

        I have no problem with reviews when significant things have changed at the school, but continual monitoring situation as described cannot possibly lead to better outcomes for anyone – it’s a waste of administrative overhead and penalises schools over something they can do nothing about.

  9. vto 9

    Surely any welfare policy must include all recipients of welfare ………….

    1. Welfare for shithouse investors in finance companies. e.g. South Canterbury Finance.

    2. Welfare for the farming sector every time there is a flood or storm. Why doesn’t the farming sector orgainse its own form of insurance for this instead of asking the workers in the city to pay for them?

    3. Welfare for the farming sector with $400million for irrigation. If the farming sectors operates as well as the farming sector claims then surely they can find the funding in the private sector for such a fantastic investment? No? Why not? Not such a good investment perhaps?

    4. Welfare for businesses that are useless at their business. Think AMI and its lack of solvency to cover its liabilities. And especially not having cover for its grounds at its own stadium in Chch.

    5. Welfare for Mediaworks to the tune of $35million (thereabouts) because it couldn’t meet its liabilities. What a fucking farce Joyce.

    6. Welfare for all business in the form of a minimum wage that is insufficient to support a family. THE RUDEST OF THEM ALL. PRICKS.

    ….. add as appropriate …..

  10. gnomic 10

    There is a problem around welfare and the affordability of the current arrangements, National has fertile ground to work on that front. Beating on the people of the benny is popular with much of their base support in the electorate also. It’s also popular with the general mass of Kiwi battlers who are struggling more and more to maintain the lifestyles they think they deserve for all their toil, and get mad with the idlers and useless eaters. Given that the state, indeed the country in its entirety, is currently being propped up by massive borrowing, it’s easy to make a case that welfare as we know it is unsustainable.

    National’s remedies of course are not the answer as befits the party that’s always wrong. The hypocrisy around rescuing beneficiaries and guiding them towards blameless lives of productive labour is sickening, as if the proponents of such policies actually care about the welfare beneficiaries. Anyone recall that 80s song with the lyrics “Go to church, always work, do right” – Cabaret Voltaire I think. The crux of the problem is that there are not enough jobs paying living wages to go round and nothing National is doing is going to change that, rather the reverse.

    Hard to know how to resolve this one. A guaranteed minimum income seems like a good approach but is a hard sell because of the money for nothing problem. Perhaps the answer will eventually be imposed on NZ when we finally go broke and get the Greek solution, which so far seems to be no solution at all. Maybe ‘the recovery’ is just around the bend and there’ll be pie before we die.

    • Uturn 10.1

      You sum up the problem. People have been taught from day one that work returns on-going material rewards and will continue into the future indefinitely, of newer, better, more advanced and technologically fashionable. It’s an unrealistic expectation. The average kiwi battler doesn’t realise that the point of working isn’t about increased ability to buy new toys.

      And while talking about retirement ages and compulsory Super seems prudent now, it’s missing the point that the our monetary system cannot provide long term security anymore. None of Labour’s policies can address long term issues of a necessary change of perspective, but that does not mean they are not the responsible course for the next few years. By defending Welfare, they will buy time for solutions that must include a change in how welfare is delivered – and that change can’t happen without rethinking education, employment and society in general.

  11. Quasimodo 11

    They were using individualised case management a few years age with no significant change in unemployment data. Cost savings will be illusory, but good election fodder in some marginal seats.

    • Draco T Bastard 11.1

      Cost savings will be illusory…

      Cost savings will be negative as WINZ will need to hire more people to carry out the extra work while the lack of extra jobs will mean that the number of beneficiaries won’t go down (will probably increase in fact).

  12. millsy 12

    Still no policy out yet.

    Been refreshing all morning, now I have to go back to work.

    And its one of those work places that dont take kindly to people who sit on the internet and complain about bludgers.

  13. Well, they are going to provide 170.000 new jobs… oh no, that is also a casualty of the Dynamic environment paradigm.

  14. One Anonymous Bloke 14

    The policy summary can be fairly categorised as “underwhelming”. Fiddling with the deck chairs. This is their major policy announcement? I guess when your plan is to do absolutely nothing and chant “everything’s fine, I wasn’t at the meeting”, this makes perfect sense.

    • Bill 14.1

      Funny thing about that ‘policy summary’ is that it makes no mention of the wee snippet JK let slip last night on TV1’s leaders debate, ie an incentive being paid to (unspecified) agencies that prevent people from going on a benefit or get them off a benefit.

      Privatisation any one?

  15. NickS 15


    Those on the Sickness Benefit would also have to look for work, unless they receive temporary exemptions.


    I’m already required by WINZ to look for work on the sickness benefit, so how the fuck is this any different? And since my work history is shit-tastic and based off a lot of one off jobs off SJS it’s not exactly easy to get one with all the competition from the able bodied and minded…

    And as others have said, where the fuck are these jobs going to magically appear from?

    • One Anonymous Bloke 15.1

      This is a stroke of genius, because we all know how much businesses love sick people coming to work. Bonus points if you’re contagious.

      • NickS 15.1.1

        Well, if I start swimming twice a week again I can get back to normal sleeping patterns and so be able to work 3 full days, whilst being on time, before fatigue levels knocked me down. But yeah, unless you’ve got high employment levels people with temporary, medium and longterm disabilities are generally looked over unless they lie or it’s something that doesn’t interfere with the job…

  16. tsmithfield 16

    Actually we import a lot of workers now from overseas to do work that is obviously “unappealing” to our beneficiaries. Maybe the new system will “encourage” unemployed people to take up these jobs rather than imported labour.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 16.1

      Oh you witless twink! What does the fact that we had close to full employment four years ago do to your assertion that there are insufficient incentives to work?

      We need better wingnuts.

    • NickS 16.2

      Still full of bullshit I see.

      Look, there’s been jack-all part time work out there that doesn’t require extensive experience, and you can guarantee that if I could work full time without burning out quickly I would be on the sickness benefit. And as the 04-07 period showed people on benefits will happily get off them if there’s work they can do, so by no means are people lazy.

      In the case of overseas workers, it depends on the job. The revelations about foreign flagged fishing fleets in NZ shows that the workers are underpaid for the job, so in that case it’s more that there’s jack all jobs for kiwis in that industry. In the case of seasonal fruit picking, the dislocation from home and temporary nature of the job is a significant disincentive if you don’t live close to the place already, and that’s not getting into the costs of moving and accommodation etc, making overseas contracted workers really attractive. More so if you can screw them over with the contract and take out of their wages what ever you want to, though this is somewhat less of a problem it seems that the fishing one.

      Often though, overseas immigrants are here due to businesses requiring people with the right skills and experience that they can’t (or wont) look here in NZ for. Then there’s also the marginal jobs, the ones which don’t offer enough hours to live off, which next to no-one wants unless they have other support or another part time job.

      So frankly, you’ve shown yourself to be utterly ignorant about the employment situations facing kiwis and willing to gloss over complexities for an unrealistic, overly simplistic “solution”. I’d also argue (if I had the energy, Nick tired) a mite xenophobic with the whole immigrants bit.

      TL:DR version:
      You’re an ignorant twit who once again shows an unwillingness to bother actually fucking thinking for a change and merrily argues from ignorance.

      • tsmithfield 16.2.1

        In the case of seasonal fruit picking, the dislocation from home and temporary nature of the job is a significant disincentive if you don’t live close to the place already, and that’s not getting into the costs of moving and accommodation etc, making overseas contracted workers really attractive.

        FFS mate, people travel from other countries for this work. Surely its not too much to expect NZers to travel around their own country a bit.

        • Colonial Viper

          Fuck off if bosses want workers to travel they can pay for relocation expenses.

          This is work, not a tourists working holiday.

          • NickS

            It not really a working holiday for pacific islanders who end up here for seasonal labouring, though luckily for them there generally only isolated cases of shit bosses and they do generally earn enough to make a difference back home.

            As for back-packers, well, it’s their own fault for trying to make it on a shoestring budget 😛

        • NickS

          Yeah, only because from their perspective the job looks really appealing due to differences in wages offered here and what they are in their home country, even if it’s the minimum wage. And the employer or whoever sets it up generally pays for their airfare over here and takes care of accommodation.

          You’re also ignoring the temporary nature of it too, as the time spent picking fruit could be also spent looking for work, along with the lack of transport some have, whether due to poverty (that’s me), stupidity (CHCH is flat, I so don’t need a license…) or misfortune (hello depression). Plus the cost of paying for two lots of rent if you can’t find someone to take your place back home temporarily.

          And people already do move for work, but they sure as hell don’t like moving for temporary jobs unless it’s part of the contract and there’s a good chance of further work.

          So yeah, you’re still being out-thought by a dude with depression who’s presently bloody tired and still recovering from the fatigue induced by a 3 day job that finished 3 days ago. Not surprising given the utter lack of thought your posts generally display though.

          Case in point, I’m falling asleep at the keyboard presently despite sleeping for a solid 9hrs…

        • Puddleglum

          tsmithfield, you’re missing the fact that the reason people become migrant workers is because of the dire circumstances in their home country.

          it is simply those dire circumstances that mean that it makes sense to move country, leave family and children, earn the minimum wage somewhere else, repatriate some of your earnings, try to live in minimal conditions in your country of work, etc..

          In order for New Zealanders to – similarly – go somewhere else, hundreds of miles from their family, for a few months while maintaining a family in New Zealand (with all its associated costs) somewhere where you are not working, maintain yourself during your few months of work, incur the costs of travelling to the place and then back home when the work finishes … [takes deep breath] means that living in New Zealand for such people who need to do that would be living in less than Third World conditions.

          Are you happy with New Zealand operating on that basis? 

  17. Penny Bright 17


    Where’s National’s ‘corporate welfare’ reform?

    If NZ central government figures are comparable with those of USA Federal Government – could the NZ $81 billion central government spend be sliced in half by ‘CUTTING OUT THE CONTRACTORS’?

    “USA Project On Government Oversight (POGO)[1] decided to take on the task of doing what others have not—comparing total annual compensation for federal and private sector employees with federal contractor billing rates in order to determine whether the current costs of federal service contracting serves the public interest.

    Executive Summary

    Based on the current public debate regarding the salary comparisons of federal and private sector employees, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO)[1] decided to take on the task of doing what others have not—comparing total annual compensation for federal and private sector employees with federal contractor billing rates in order to determine whether the current costs of federal service contracting serves the public interest.

    The current debate over pay differentials largely relies on the theory that the government pays private sector compensation rates when it outsources services. This report proves otherwise: in fact, it shows that the government actually pays service contractors at rates far exceeding the cost of employing federal employees to perform comparable functions.

    POGO’s study analyzed the total compensation paid to federal and private sector employees, and annual billing rates for contractor employees across 35 occupational classifications covering over 550 service activities. Our findings were shocking—POGO estimates the government pays billions more annually in taxpayer dollars to hire contractors than it would to hire federal employees to perform comparable services. Specifically, POGO’s study shows that the federal government approves service contract billing rates—deemed fair and reasonable—that pay contractors 1.83 times more than the government pays federal employees in total compensation, and more than 2 times the total compensation paid in the private sector for comparable services. ”

    The implications of this both nationally and internationally are HUGE.

    You see – if central and local govt departments /SOEs / CCOs / Crown Research Institutes are all defined as ‘PUBLIC- BENEFIT ENTITIES’ as defined under NZ Equivalents to International Financial Reporting Standards (“NZ IFRS”) – then their primary objective is to provide services and facilities for the community as a social benefit rather than make a financial return.

    So – how come so many services that USED to be provided ‘in-house’ are now contracted out to the private sector – whose primary objective is most certainly to ‘make a financial return’?

    What magic is this that transforms public (ratepayer and taxpayer) monies into private profit?

    WHERE IS THE NZ EQUIVALENT OF ‘POGO’ the USA ‘Project On Government Oversight ‘ which has just completed first-ever research which proves that private contractors cost twice as much as ‘in-house’ providers of Federal Government services????

    HOW MUCH MONEY could be saved in NZ at central and local government by cutting out all the private ‘piggies in the middle’ with their greedy snouts in our public troughs?

    Why aren’t the statutory ‘third party’ Public Watchdogs asking these questions and demanding this accountability?

    How much public money at central and local government level could be saved by ‘CUTTING OUT THE CONTRACTORS’?

    Penny Bright
    Independent Candidate for Epsom (nomination accepted today 🙂
    Campaigning against ‘white collar crime’, corruption (and its root cause – privatisation) and ‘corporate welfare’.

    • marsman 17.1

      Heard that Fletchers have a huge charge out rate as contractors in the Christchurch rebuild while the people doing the actual work only get a fraction of that. Corporate greed anyone? Shipley ($1000 a day on the rebuild Commission) is a Director of Fletchers is she not?

  18. NickS 18

    Huh? I just checked “renowned” welfare expert (aka insta-pundit with no academic background, let alone pub’d research papers) Lindsay Mitchell’s blog to see her not talking shit for once and calling it merely a “Lots of name-changing hides lack of substance”…

    Though with the usual lie that teenagers come onto the dole and aren’t work tested.

  19. National’s Beneficiary Bashing Policy

    Nationals projected savings are only 1% of the total amount that will be spent on welfare over the next four years with the cost to implement the changes projected at $520 million for same time period. This makes any savings as low as $480 million or approximately 0.5% of the total welfare spend. However the social cost to Nationals policy on poor communities will be huge…

  20. ak 20

    All Sickness and Invalids beneficiaries are assessed by medical professionals who determine what hours/wk they are capable of. Always have been.

    So National is now calling the medical profession incompetent, kicking the most unfortunate and vulnerable in the teeth – again – and ripping one-year-old babies from the arms of mothers as a punishment for creating life.

    Heinous, digusting, blatant hatemongering just before an election from the hideous grinning ghoul who accused women of “breeding for a business” and his glib, repulsive mauler.

    They will pay dearly. As do all who wreak evil.

    Or knowingly abet it: the blood and tears of all driven to misery, abortion, suicide and despair by this venal, inhuman act, will be on National lackeys’ hands forever.

  21. DJL 21

    Hideous grinning ghoul…….+1
    Benes need to register to vote now!!!!

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  • Celebrating the Entry Into Force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
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  • Supporting disabled people to stay connected
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  • Jobs for Nature projects target iconic ecosystems
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