- Date published:
7:52 am, September 16th, 2015 - 37 comments
Categories: benefits, class war, national, national/act government, same old national, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags: anne tolley, carmel sepuloni, david clendon, serco
In an unfortunate juxtaposition of events it has been shown that this Government is happy to write off debts properly owed to it by Serco but unwilling to pay debts properly owed by it to New Zealand social welfare beneficiaries.
Firstly Serco has been let off hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines imposed under its contract with the Government since the contract was signed. From Radio New Zealand:
It has been revealed in Parliament that private prison operator Serco has been let off hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for serious contract breaches.
Mt Eden Prison is currently under the management of the Department of Corrections, while an official investigation is carried out into allegations of mismanagement by Serco.
Under questioning from Green Party corrections spokesperson David Clendon this afternoon, Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-liga spelt out the sum of Serco’s cancelled fines.
“Mr Speaker, since Serco took over management of Mt Eden Prison in 2011, I’m advised that Corrections has issued a total of 55 performance notices to Serco – seven have been withdrawn,” Mr Lotu-liga said.
“And the total amount of the withdrawals is $275,000.”
But it seems there are more fines that Serco has had cancelled and Mr Clendon asked the minister about one of them.
“Does the minister approve of Corrections’ decision to excuse the $100,000 fine that was imposed when Serco failed to take back razors that had been issued to prisoners, to inmates, if so why?” Mr Clendon asked.
Mr Lotu-liga responded that that was not one of the seven withdrawn fines he was referring too.
It is astounding that Lotu-Iiga did not know about the further forgiven fine. It makes you wonder how much effort was put into researching the answer.
And at the same time the Government is attempting to retrospectively change the law so that money it owes beneficiaries does not have to be paid. Again from Radio New Zealand:
Work and Income has underpaid some beneficiaries by a day for the last 18 years and the Government is now trying to change the law and wipe the arrears.
Advocates say the Government owes hundreds of thousands of people for one day’s benefit; leaving it with a bill which could stretch into the millions.
Work and Income was meant to pay from the day the stand-down ended – but had instead been starting the next day.
The Government is now trying to retrospectively change the payment date to the day after stand-down, and apply that back to 1998 when the law took effect.
Beneficiary advocate Kay Brereton said the Government now had a huge problem.
“This is almost every benefit that’s been granted in the last 18 years,” she said.
“For some people… they might have gone on and off the benefit a number of times. Every time they’ve gone on again, they’ve been short paid a day,” she said.
The change is hidden away in the Social Security (Extension of Young Persons Services and Remedial Matters) Amendment Bill. The reason for the change is said to be “correcting the legislation so a benefit commences on the day after a stand down period ends as opposed to the day on which the stand down period ends”.
This is a novel use of the word “correcting”. Because the current legislation clearly states that benefits commence on the date the stand down period ends. And it is only when you dig down into the Regulatory Impact Statement that you realise that the change is contentious and has a retrospective effect.
Anne Tolley thinks it is no big deal as only a day’s income is involved. To a beneficiary this is a fortune.
Labour’s Carmel Sepuloni was quoted as saying this:
How many are involved here? What numbers are we talking about?
They have an obligation to maintain transparency and make sure that we all are aware of what’s going on. They can’t just sneak through changes, without informing us about the reasons for doing that.”
Carmel’s comments are perfectly valid. This information is not in the Regulatory Impact Statement. You would think this would be the first piece of information researched.
So there we have it. Another example where a foreign corporation is let off paying money it actually owes and beneficiaries are denied money they are legally entitled to.
John Key’s Aotearoa, doncha love it…