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NRT: The Great WINZ ripoff

Written By: - Date published: 3:15 pm, September 16th, 2015 - 17 comments
Categories: accountability, benefits, class war - Tags: , ,

I/S at No Right Turn


The Great WINZ ripoff

You’re a beneficiary. Because they’re muppets, WINZ overpays you a day’s benefit when you start. When they notice, you’re forced to repay the money (which is fair enough) – and tagged as a “fraudster” for good measure.

But what if the shoe is on the other foot? What if WINZ systematically underpays you, and everyone else, for years? Simple: they get the government to change the law:

Beneficiaries have been underpaid for the past 18 years – and the Government is now seeking to change the law to avoid paying for the mistake.

Certain beneficiaries have been underpaid by a total of one day each since 1998, beneficiary advocate Kay Brereton said.

An amendment to legislation currently before Parliament would mean such underpayments would be wiped.

The unfairness of this ought to be obvious to all. WINZ owes these people money, and it should pay them. So what’s the government’s excuse for this theft?

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said the law change simply reflected what was happening on the ground.

“We’re talking a day, so it’s not a huge amount of money,” Ms Tolley told Radio New Zealand.

Which probably sounds eminently sensible to a Minister on a $272,000 a year salary. But when you’re on a benefit, a day of income – even if its only $20 or $30 – can make a huge difference. But we can hardly expect a pack of wankers on over a quarter of a million a year each to understand that.

17 comments on “NRT: The Great WINZ ripoff ”

  1. Lara 1

    “We’re talking a day, so it’s not a huge amount of money”

    The Anne Tolley equivalent of “let them eat cake”?

    This government is truly heartless.

  2. Coaster 2

    Someone stuffed up and didnt read the fine print about starting benefits at winz, lol, maybe if they hadnt sacked all those back office staff 6 years ago it would only have been a 12 year stuff up.

  3. Kay 3

    Not shocked or surprised at all by this latest revelation. I’m still waiting for the $1800 in sickness benefit I was very illegally underpaid in 1987 but I won’t hold my breath..,

    I’m more disappointed with Carmel Sepuloni on RNZ this morning. She just didn’t want to answer the question “should these people be reimbursed” despite being asked several times by Guyon. The wriggling/squirming was on a par with a Nat Minister. It was actually a very simple answer- if people have been underpaid benefits they are entitled to under current legislation then yes, they should be reimbursed.

    Here was a perfect opportunity for Labour to show that they actually give a damn about beneficiaries (it’s common knowledge in our circles that they don’t) but her obvious discomfort in answering that question showed that all she was doing was political point scoring, not the fact that actual PEOPLE have been affected by this. I’ve emailed her saying as much- the first time I’ve had any contact with an MP in years- and it will be interesting to see if I get a reply.

  4. McFlock 4

    avg payment x number benefit applications
    $20 x 300,000 = 6,000,000 (logical minimum)
    $30 x 4,000,000 = 120,000,000 (high-end arse-pulled estimate)

    Some the cost is probably somewhere between 1/4th of a flag change and 2.5 cycleways.

    • emergency mike 4.1

      And possibly as much as a facilitation payment for a death camp for sheep in Saudi Arabia.

  5. adam 5

    I see Anne Tolley has responded by emailing out about the sex offender registry legislation.

    Ahh, National always with the spin, deflection and playing into the 24 hour news cycle.

    If they get caught out, they just change the topic and the media play along.

  6. wyndham 6

    This must be Labour’s fault.

    • Chris 6.1

      A lot of social security / benefit issues / problems are very much Labour’s fault.

      • Chris 6.1.1

        And watch Labour vote with the government to legislate this problem away retrospectively, like they did with the last nasty, beneficiary-hating government welfare bill that was passed. Labour is in many ways worse than the neo-liberal filth that is our government because they’ve chosen to be part of the problem. I will never vote for Labour again, ever.

  7. NZJester 7

    That $20 or so underpayment assumes the person has not been on and off the benefit a few times in that time. Could a lot of seasonal workers who go on and off the benefit at least once a year be due a lot more?

  8. Mike the Savage One 8

    Add to the ‘Great Ripoff’ perhaps also the ‘Great Deception’ – about much of the “evidence” they used to justify their draconian welfare reforms in 2010 to 2013 (talking about the “therapeutic” “health benefits of work”, the benefit being “like a drug” and “worklessness” being soooo harmful to health):

    https://nzsocialjusticeblog2013.wordpress.com/2015/08/09/msd-and-dr-david-bratt-present-misleading-evidence-claiming-worklessness-causes-poor-health/

  9. Henry Filth 9

    Pay the money. Fire somebody “up the food chain” to encourage the others.

    They sure need encouraging.

  10. Wensleydale 10

    This is business as usual for WINZ, IRD and a host of other government departments. If the error (and its inevitably their error) is in their favour, they’re all over you like flies on a dog turd. If the error is in your favour, then “nothing to see here, move along”, and lets change the law to ensure the dirty peasants never get their money back. Fuckers, the lot of them.

  11. Mike the Savage One 11

    A must watch video from ‘In The House’:

    http://www.inthehouse.co.nz/video/39670

    Something is brewing, social welfare reforms and trials are failing across the board, I suspect. No wonder we get no transparency and figures!

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