Underpaying beneficiaries

Written By: - Date published: 10:26 am, September 10th, 2017 - 28 comments
Categories: benefits, class war, national, welfare - Tags: , , ,

Another update from nine long years of the brighter future:

WINZ staff accused of withholding entitlements

The Social Development Minister, Anne Tolley, has defended her department after a report showing people on benefits were missing out on $200 million in entitlements a year.

The figures were in a report obtained by Newsub’s The Nation under the Official Information Act.

It showed 150,000 beneficiaries and low income families were not getting payments totalling $200m a year that they were entitled to.

Labour’s Carmel Sepuloni told The Nation, the culture that had developed in Work and Income offices under Mrs Tolley’s leadership was to blame.

“[WINZ staff are] withholding anything that people are entitled to – they are overstretched…

Tolley blames the underpayment on the complexities of the benefit system. Know what would be nice and simple? Universal Basic Income (UBI).

WINZ creating ‘two classes’ of Kiwis – Labour

Labour says a culture within WINZ which has “created two classes of New Zealanders” is preventing beneficiaries from getting what they’re entitled to.

But Ms Sepuloni said the system is not working.

“Some accessing these hardship grants are on a benefit – some are the working poor, struggling to survive.”

She said it was the “same old, same old from the Government”.

“The Government’s response has been to push people off benefits with no regard for whether or not they’ll in fact be better off.

“This is why we want to focus on upskilling and training, rather than just pushing people into the next minimum wage job that comes along.” …

Beneficiary advocates slam WINZ

Beneficiary groups have slammed Work and Income over a new report showing people missing out on $200 million a year in entitlements.

Auckland Action Against Poverty spokesperson Alastair Russell said Work and Income case managers deliberately withhold information about benefit entitlements.

“There’s a whole raft of entitlements that people both in and out of work are entitled to and Work and Income treat them like state secrets.

“If you don’t ask, you don’t know. And you don’t know what you don’t know.” …

Beneficiaries are not getting the support that they are entitled to. NZ is beset by rising poverty, its associated diseases, homelessness, and suicide. I wonder if these facts could possibly be related?

28 comments on “Underpaying beneficiaries”

  1. So the amount beneficiaries are being *underpaid* is more than 6x higher than the supposed cost of benefit fraud?

    Actually, wouldn’t these payments and entitlements that beneficiaries are purposefully being kept away from amount to state fraud?

  2. Incognito 2

    That is an average under-payment of $1,333 for each of those beneficiaries but it is an absolute certainty that some were under-paid by less and some by much more. Has there been a breakdown of under-payments?

  3. Antoine 3

    I guess I sound like a broken record but I would like to know what Sepuloni proposes to do about this.

    In the articles quoted, she only specifies two actions that Labour would take:
    “Labour would take a look at the current benefit sanctions regime, saying the vast majority of sanctions were being applied to missed appointments and breakdowns in communication”
    “we want to focus on upskilling and training, rather than just pushing people into the next minimum wage job that comes along.”

    I guess I would have liked to hear her say something like “Labour will take action to make sure that beneficiaries receive their entitlements”.

    A.

  4. Robert Boesnach 4

    Seems pretty clear to me that this depriving people of their just entitlements (which incidently are probably used to bump up the income of those in power) also leads to them committing fraud and other financially related crimes just to survive.. so who is the real criminal then?

    • tracey 4.1

      Richardson started it by deliberately cutting the benefit to make it hard to live on. When you look at rent and house prices since… the idea was to force the “lazy” to get jobs. The cruelest part is she and other economists decided we coukd have low inflation or full employment but not both. By choosing inflation she and every govt since has punished people for not getting jobs that they have determined cannot exist.

      • greywarshark 4.1.1

        Tracey
        So right. this point should be repeated with loudspeakers. The gummint has engineered the present system of un- and under-employment and low wages and precarious hours. They have brought about the deformed economy and the increasing desperation of people trying to manage within it.

        It is a shrinking lid on government spending, shrinking taxes from those who pay out of their discretionary income, increasing impact on those who pay tax out of their basic income, and shrinking jobs because of preferring and increasing immigrants who force down the number of jobs available to NZ either because they work for less, or because they have a unique appeal at the higher end (‘we employ the best of what the world offers us when choosing professionals’).

        The government is lowering the ceiling on the ordinary person, and soon we
        won’t have breathing room, then they will charge us for air. We can’t afford basics now, and soon we will expire but who cares whether we commit suicide there are plenty more people in the world. Old people are valuable though and can’t be allowed to decide when they die because their pension is locked into the financial system the gummint operates and a whole new industry is being erected on our aged bones, elderly care (poorly paid, mostly by immigrants) and retirement homes. Can’t have the aged cows dying before they are milked out.

        This is globalisation where people and goods are cheap, prices are low, and the wealthy can live high. End of rant!

      • Richard Christie 4.1.2

        Exactly, Tracy.

      • The cruelest part is she and other economists decided we coukd have low inflation or full employment but not both.

        I’m going to have to point out that it was the economists in Treasury that told the National government how much was required to live. It was then the National government, acting purely on ideology, that then cut the benefits by 20%.

        Otherwise, spot on.

  5. silvertuatara 5

    Well, some sector had to pay for the loss of State Revenue previously generated by the sale of NZ State Owned Assets, and English’s and Key’s tax cuts that have disproportionately favored the rich.

    English has turned WINZ into nothing more than a hock-shop, where Winz staff, hold back entitlements from clients by not fully informing them of their rights and correct entitlements, and then by using morally bankrupted practices, provide “credit” back to a beneficiary in the form of a loan which needs to be paid back.

    The running costs of WINZ that should be used for beneficiaries, and shown in WINZ’s accounts as an expense are therefore way lower, and the new debt incurred by the WINZ client shows up on the WINZ books as an asset/outstanding liability to be paid back to WINZ.

    The so called “social investment” framework that Bill espouses is just a dangerous system that turns an individual into a spec of data, the end game being to reduce the overall cost of the scheme…in any way possible……..and if you have ever advocated on behalf of a WINZ client as I have, you will realise the amount of contempt some of the WINZ staff have towards their client’s.

    I would love to see an independent review of WINZ, to see whether any staff within WINZ are paid bonuses based on reducing beneficiary entitlement liability to WINZ or whether the internal culture has been cultivated to ensure that WINZ staff are made well aware that the dirty tricks of holding back entitlements from clients, through not fully informing the clients of their legal financial entitlements and rights, are expected in order to retain their employment, or as a means of conforming that may allow progression up the management chain within WINZ.

    Get prepared for Labour to be ruthlessly pursued by the likes of Heather du Plessis-Allan in articles like this in todays morning Herald website;

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11919488

    I wonder if Heather will seek additional daily revenue through the NZ Herald in the two weeks leading up to the 2017 Election, with her employment reportedly having come to a sudden end with Mediaworks, through attacking Labour on a daily basis.

    The media are really aware that female voters are sick of old white male reporters and political commentators espousing that a woman (in this case Jacinda), is this, or that, is not experienced enough, is not ready for the role of PM and I think that the MSM will try and use female reporters/commentators to attack Jacinda/Labour.

    It will be interesting to see how present Heather will be within the Herald, and in other political commentating forums targeting Labour and Jacinda along the strict National Party election strategy lines within this next two weeks leading up to election day.

  6. Kay 6

    I’m currently getting underpaid on disability allowance and I know it. Once upon a time I would’ve gone through the motions of getting my ever increasing disability costs signed off by my GP and entered into the system by my assigned case manager, the same one I saw at every appointment and who knew me and my situation (taken away in the name of “efficiency”) And who didn’t have a rigged computer system and was able to use common sense discretion.

    These days, the system is deliberately designed to frustrate even the most clued up of us, and it is rigged. And of course, we are now all guilty of something as a default setting as far as WINZ are concerned so many of us prefer not to rock the boat, even to get money we are legally entitled to. There are very real fears of a “random” audit, and being accused of fraud. No doubt all part of the plan.

    And as I have posted here before, my dealings with WINZ have literally put me in hospital several times (which I suspect has cost the State much more than what they owe me) so it’s safer for me to avoid them and go without. For now I can just manage ok finacially until the rent skyrockets, but am well aware of those who can’t.

    Sepuloni is back to her political point scoring again. Not the first time either. While I’m pleased to see these reports showing up in the news, she’s proven many times during her time as Spokesperson she has no real concern towards beneficiaries, certainly none about our pay rates, and will never respond to any criticism made towards her (still waiting for a reply to my email from 4 years ago Carmen!)

    • tracey 6.1

      It is a national sport I am sorry to say and Labour has been complicit in the past. It will take alot of courage for the next govt to stand up, properly and apologetically for our vulnerable. Time will tell if it will be more than tinkering at the edges.

      Getting someone to have the guts to say “we chose low inflation so we have to have unemployed” will take a miracle.

  7. adam 7

    No offence but how many impacts have the AAAP run, and the media have just noticing this now?

    I stated here how many people I personally dealt with who were massively under paid. I was one of many who caught work and income out in this practice.

    Must be an election on, it appears the only time politicians actually give a damn.

  8. Carolyn_nth 8

    I’ve just watched the Panel on this weekend’s The Nation: video here.

    Sue Bradford’s critique of Labour on social welfare is important. She says the next government needs the green Party for issues like welfare reform.

    But, what is most extraordinary is to hear Patrick Gower’s massive contradictory statements. He’s critical of Labour for not being stronger on reforming welfare, while also saying it’s understandable they are weak on it because of what happened to Metiria Turei. But, Gower seems to forget he was one of the leading commentators baying for Turei’s blood, and pressuring her to resign.

    Gower’s also contradictory about David Seymour, but that’s another issue.

    Does Gower care at all about beneficiaries, or is it all just part of The Game to him- – something he can stir the pot about, and incite angst and anger?

  9. Michael 9

    There’ll be no end to this if Labour wins the Game of Thrones on 23 September, which is why I’m not voting for it. Labour’s “welfare policy”, issued late last Friday, is a sick joke and contains nothing to reassure anyone that it would clean up the welfare bureaucracy; among other considerations, doing so would disturb the sensitivities of the PSA, of whose ranks many of the worst bureaucratic bullies are comprised. Labour simply hasn’t got the guts for such a fight. Another consideration is that providing both the working and the non-working with entitlements already belong to them by current law (grossly unjust as it is), costs money that Labour has already decreed it won’t make available. So Labour is merely crying crocodile tears once more.

  10. Darth smith 10

    6 years is legal limit that’s 1.2 billion owed where is national on this hole

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    Newsroom today has an excellent, in-depth article on pine trees as carbon sinks. The TL;DR is that pine is really good at soaking up carbon, but people prefer far-less efficient native forests instead. Which is understandable, but there's two problems: firstly, we've pissed about so long on this problem that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • No freedom of speech in Turkey
    Canan Kaftancioglu is a Turkish politician and member of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). Like most modern politicians, she tweets, and uses the platform to criticise the Turkish government. She has criticised them over the death of a 14-year-old boy who was hit by a tear gas grenade during ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Speaker: Tadhg Stopford: Why I’m standing for the ADHB
    Hi there, just call me Tim.We face tough problems, and I’d like to help, because there are solutions.An Auckand District Health Board member has nominated me for as a candidate for the ADHB, because her MS-related pain and fatigue is reduced with hemp products from Rotorua.  Nothing else helped her. If I ...
    1 week ago
  • Good little vassals
    The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has published their report on whether the SIS and GCSB had any complicity in American torture. And its damning. The pull quote is this:The Inquiry found both agencies, but to a much greater degree, the NZSIS, received many intelligence reports obtained from detainees who, ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Who Shall We Turn To When God, And Uncle Sam, Cease To Defend New Zealand?
    Bewhiskered Cassandra? Professor Hugh White’s chilling suggestion, advanced to select collections of academic, military and diplomatic Kiwi experts over the course of the past week, is that the assumptions upon which Australia and New Zealand have built their foreign affairs and defence policies for practically their entire histories – are ...
    1 week ago
  • The Politics of Opposition
    For most of the time I was a British MP, my party was out of government – these were the Thatcher years, when it was hard for anyone else to get a look-in. As a front-bencher and shadow minister, I became familiar with the strategies required in a parliamentary democracy ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • More expert comments on the Canadian fluoride-IQ paper
    The Green et al (2019) fluoride/IQ is certainly controversial – as would be expected from its subject (see If at first you don’t succeed . . . statistical manipulation might help and Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear). Anti-fluoride campaigners have been actively promoting it ...
    1 week ago
  • The return to guerrilla war in Colombia
    by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh On August 29th a video in which veteran FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) commander Iván Márquez announced that they had taken up arms again was released. There was no delay in the reaction to it, from longtime Liberal Party figure and former president Uribe, for ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Air New Zealand identifies this enormous plot of unused land as possible second airport site
    Air New Zealand couldn’t believe its luck that this seemingly ideal piece of real estate had so far gone entirely unnoticed. Air New Zealand’s search for a site to build a second Auckland Airport may have made a breakthrough this afternoon, after employees scanning Google satellite imagery spotted a huge, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Redline on the Labour Party
    No-one on the anti-capitalist left in this country today puts forward a case that Labour is on the side of the working class.  There are certainly people who call themselves ‘socialist’ who do, but they are essentially liberals with vested interests in Labourism – often for career reasons. Nevertheless, there ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • New Fisk
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s failure
    When National was in government and fucking over the poor for the benefit of the rich, foodbanks were a growth industry. And now Labour is in charge, nothing has changed: A huge demand for emergency food parcels means the Auckland City Mission is struggling to prepare for the impending arrival ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Ardern attempts to vaccinate Clarke Gayford live on television to prove that it’s safe
    Gayford, pictured here on The Project, before things got wildly out of control. A bold public relations move by the Government to encourage parents to vaccinate their children has gone horribly wrong. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared on tonight’s episode of Three’s The Project, where the plan was for her ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Has Mr. Whippy gone too far by parking on our front lawns?
    Mr. Whippy’s business model has driven it down a dark road of intimidation. Residents in major centres around the country are becoming disgruntled by the increasingly aggressive actions of purported ice cream company Mr. Whippy, who have taken to parking on people’s front lawns and doorsteps in a desperate attempt ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Cleaning up the water
    Today the government released its Action Plan for Healthy Waterways, aimed at cleaning up our lakes and rivers. Its actually quite good. There will be protection for wetlands, better standards for swimming spots, a requirement for continuous improvement, and better standards for wastewater and stormwater. But most importantly, there's a ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Fronting up
    Today I appeared before the Environment Committee to give an oral submission on the Zero Carbon Bill. Over 1,500 people have asked to appear in person, so they've divided into subcommittees and are off touring the country, giving people a five minute slot each. The other submitters were a mixed ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear
    Anti-fluoride activists have some wealthy backers – they are erecting billboards misrepresenting the Canadian study on many New Zealand cities – and local authorities are ordering their removal because of their scaremongering. Many New Zealanders ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Democracy – I Don’t Think So
    So, those who “know best” have again done their worst. While constantly claiming to be the guardians of democracy and the constitution, and respecters of the 2016 referendum result, diehard Remainers (who have never brought themselves to believe that their advice could have been rejected) have striven might and main ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • Government says it will now build just one really nice home
    Following publication of this article, the Ministry has requested it to be noted that this supplied image is not necessarily representative of what the final house will look like, and it “probably won’t be that nice.” As part of today’s long-anticipated reset of the Government’s flagship KiwiBuild policy, Housing Minister ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Imperialism and your cup of coffee
    Over the next week or two we will be running three synopses of parts of the opening chapter of John Smith’s Imperialism in the 21st Century (New York, Monthly Review Press, 2016).  The synopsis and commentary below is written by Phil Duncan. Marx began Capital not with a sweeping historical ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Still juking the stats
    The State Services Commission and Ombudsman have released another batch of OIA statistics, covering the last six months. Request volumes are up, and the core public service is generally handling them within the legal timeframe, though this may be because they've learned to extend rather than just ignore things. And ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago

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