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Why won’t Labour help disabled people out of poverty?

Written By: - Date published: 9:02 am, October 26th, 2022 - 93 comments
Categories: benefits, disability, welfare - Tags: , , ,

This is beautiful in its simplicity, compassion, and social intelligence.

Of all the things that Labour does and doesn’t do on poverty, how they treat disabled people on a benefit is the biggest red flag of all. People who cannot work because of impairment face double poverty: being on a benefit that is intentionally set well below the standard of living we think is fair in New Zealand. And then the compounding poverty of not having the capacity to make up for that in other ways because of disability.

We know Labour has done some things to improve the lives of people living in benefit poverty. But they stop short of the kind of transformational system change that would allow disabled people to take full part in society. Instead Labour seem to be relying on the ideology that getting people into jobs solves poverty. Those that can get a job will be ok, everyone else is to be left behind.

The problem here is that there are tens of thousands of New Zealanders who cannot work due to disability. Many of them cannot live meaningful lives or make a contribution to society because of the double poverty. The sheer waste of so many people’s talent, energy and lives is staggering.

There are something like 95,000 disabled people or their full time carers on SLP (Supported Living Payment, used to be known as the Invalid’s Benefit). To get SLP you have to be unable to work full time and have a disability that lasts a long time. In other words, you are unable to work to earn enough income to live.

Labour sets the rate for SLP at $359 (after tax) for a single person with no children. By comparison, the minimum wage at 40 hours/week = $718 after tax. SLP is half the minimum wage.

There are non-taxable, asset and/or income tested, supplementary benefits, granted at the discretion of the WINZ worker you happen to be dealing with on any given day:

  • Accommodation Supplement. The rate is a % of costs, and depends on where you live and what your costs are.
  • Disability Allowance, for costs directly related to your disability, capped at $70/wk.
  • Temporary Additional Support, a hardship grant that most long term beneficiaries rely on. You apply for specific items, WINZ pays 30% of the cost of those they approve. You have to reapply for TAS every 13 weeks.

If you have savings or assets, you are ineligible for AS ($8,100) and TAS ($1,193). You are expected to use those savings for living costs until they drop below the threshold, then you can apply for AS. Consider what that means for anyone with savings who ends up disabled and unable to work. WINZ strips them of any excess wealth and brings them down to poverty level.

There are also long term disabled people on the Jobseeker Allowance who should be on SLP but can’t get on because successive governments have made it too hard.

On either of those benefits, you are allowed to earn additional income up to $160/wk before your main benefit is reduced. That’s six and a half hours at the Living Wage of $23.65.

Earnings between $160 and $250 abate at 30c in the dollar. Above $250 they abate at 70c in the dollar. That’s on top of any tax you are paying, and WINZ count your gross earnings, not net. Earnings on top of a benefit are taxed at the Secondary Rate.

Earnings have to be declared. If they vary from week to week, they have to be declared weekly in a mindnumbingly inefficient process.

If you get TAS, you lose $1 for every dollar you earn. That’s right, a 100% tax rate.

When core benefit rates rise, many beneficiaries don’t get the full amount, because of the calculations use to determine AS and TAS rates. Labour knows this and fudges it when doing welfare PR.

None of that is even getting to the cultural problems within WINZ that create additional barriers. Stories like legally blind people being required to repeatedly document their ongoing need for a benefit aren’t uncommon.

If all that makes your eyes glaze over, imagine what it is like for someone who is unwell, has mental health problems, doesn’t have a body capable of doing basic things like internet searches of the obscure WINZ website or how to access help, or has been living in poverty for so long that they can’t see any way out. Then read the tweet again.

Here is a policy idea: pay the disabled a living wage and let them contribute to society in a way that is meaningful to them.

The sheer waste of so many people’s talent, energy and lives is staggering. It doesn’t have to be that way. So why is it?

To answer the question in the post title, Why won’t Labour help disabled people out of poverty? I think it’s twofold. One is ideological. Labour appear to believe that paid work will lift people out of poverty and they little commitment to those who cannot work.

The second reason is that Carmel Sepuloni, as Minister for Social Development, Disability, and ACC, has had a five years to help disabled people on welfare, and she hasn’t.

When she became Minister overseeing WINZ in 2017, in the wake of a slew of public debate about welfare arising from Metiria Turei’s Green Party welfare reform announcement, increasing MSM stories about the huge cultural problems within WINZ, and a groundbreaking grassroots report from We Are Beneficiaries, Sepuloni chose not to meet with beneficiary groups but instead tweeted an incredibly tone deaf PR piece which she later deleted after the backlash.

These managers are the ones that had been overseeing years of punitive welfare under the Key/Bennet years.

I think she is both ideologically unsuitable, and incapable, and should be replaced.

If the Greens get enough MPs next year and Labour get to form government, then we might see someone like Marama Davidson as Minister for Social Development. That’s the game changer because The Greens, unsurprisingly, already have a suite of progressive policies for disability welfare.


WEAG report.

Work and Income site (use MAP not the main site).

93 comments on “Why won’t Labour help disabled people out of poverty? ”

  1. In a volunteer job I had for a time I worked with a person with a disability who wanted to help by working about 6 or so hours a week.

    Easy you'd think just hop on a bus and go to town and then after your stint hop on a bus and go home.

    Not so. the cost of the bus journey, put volunteering out of reach for the number of days they were wanting to work. Sometimes they felt well enough to work more than 1 day a week but those transport costs. I am not sure with the recent changes to public transport costs whether charges have been abated. It is still a hit on income. In those days 2007-2017 access to reduced transport rates seemed to be quite arbitrary ie those able to carry a card entitling them to reduced fares at all times.

    Then we had those using the Gold Card…….they had to be out of the workplace before 3.30pm unless they were prepared to pay full fare later. Some felt bad as during some late afternoons there was a push to get the products of our work out the door by the end of the day. They had to scarper off home.

    As volunteering is a way of working that helps many, on both sides, we should make it easy for people wanting to do this as well as being in full or part time paid work.

    This is quite apart from the miserly rates of assistance.

    • Tiger Mountain 1.1

      Friend of mine in a chair, Dialysis regularly, one good hand. He knits goods on a little rig with that hand for sale in a church shop. Anyway he moved town with his family, all ok according to case manager. Week after move, Benefit cut off, called to a meeting.

      Asked what he was doing to be “work ready”, in tears, no fun at all. Took some sorting out including contacting previous case manager, and appointing an advocate, large ex tow truck brother, for any future dealings with MSD.

      MSD might also be world champions at losing previously supplied documents and letters, and long hold times for people with limited mobile call time.

  2. Tiger Mountain 2

    That pic of Minister Sepuloni grinning as she sits among “the filthy few”–ace tormentors of the vulnerable–says much. MSD/WINZ is one Govt. Dept. where staff can be rewarded for not providing the assistance people seek.

    She has clearly been captured by her Ministry, and does not have the class left political understanding as a base position anyway to want to take them on. She may have a pyschological issue also with her family history and feels she has something to prove.

    The Labour Caucus will not go there either in terms of treating beneficiaries as anything other than failures and in the case of disabled, malingerers.

    Dog eat dog neo liberalism requires winners and losers–especially losers. And despite Rogernomics initiating the end of many decent full time working class jobs in manufacturing and state industry and infrastructure–the discarded and their descendants are still blamed and shamed for macro economic decisions beyond their immediate control. No widespread re-training was provided and thousands were left to languish and then slowly ground into the dust with market rents, asset sales, privatised power generation and supply, Richardson’s MOAB, paid tertiary, run down of apprenticeships, contracting out, etc.

    We need a Basic Income for all citizens paid through IRD, as well a totally new agency for disabled and other special needs people. Sack all MSD senior staff and forbid them from working in the public sector again.

    • tc 2.1

      She's one of many 'captured' ministers in what's turning out to be a centrist govt pretty comfy with the status quo.

  3. SPC 3

    So much to consider


    1. those who remain disabled because they are not provided with available drugs (not covered by Pharmac).

    2. those with disability not receiving support to manage it.

    3. lack of suitable housing (and it should be income related rent).

    4. lack of supportive care.

    Lack of income

    1. the bare minimum would be super level (individual rate or half couple rate if they have a disability partner) or longer term rate income support.

    2. and those who find partners should be able to retain income support (main benefit rate for a single).

  4. Corey Humm 4

    Better yet, give disabled people a living wage and create a new agency specifically for disabled people so they don't have to go through the genuine trauma and mental abuse and embarrassment that is msd.

    Labour's talk about kindness is total rubbish when it allows those who cannot work to live in abject poverty. Any Labour member who is against giving disabled people who can't work a livable income should go join the National party and frankly that includes the prime minister.

    The minister for MSD glorifying the top case managers in that pic is gross, how do you become a top case manager? Saying no to everything? Glorifying the hoops these people put vulnerable people through is disgusting. She needs to go. Its been five years time for a new minister.

    Our priorities are all F'd up. The ammount of resources we put into spying on vulnerable beneficiaries is gross.

    A lot of msd workers should be working for the gcsb, we spy on beneficiaries so much we know when they've been on a second tindr date and can blackmail them with their nudes but the gcsb and police can't stop a guy who's publicly posting about committing terrorist attacks.

    Our priorities are screwed.

  5. thebiggestfish7 5

    Fantastic article. I think the key message to NZ society should be that any one of us currently able bodied could find ourselves physically disabled or with a brain injury. I would love to see us move to a system where these people (or their caregivers) are paid the equivalent of a 40hr work week at the minimum wage along with support for housing where specialist access/equipment may be required (wheelchair access, hoists etc).

    Additionally, I though the idea of a separate agency outside of Winz for people in these circumstances is also a worthy idea.

  6. thebiggestfish7 6

    Fantastic article. I think the key message to NZ society should be that any one of us currently able bodied could find ourselves physically disabled or with a brain injury. I would love to see us move to a system where these people (or their caregivers) are paid the equivalent of a 40hr work week at the minimum wage along with support for housing where specialist access/equipment may be required (wheelchair access, hoists etc).

    Additionally, I though the idea of a separate agency outside of Winz for people in these circumstances is also a worthy idea. I would love to see some costings and a proposal from our political parties on this.

    • weka 6.1

      The Greens policy in 2020 was to reform ACC,

      Reforming ACC to become the Agency for Comprehensive Care, creating equitable social support for everyone with a work-impairing health condition or disability, with a minimum payment of 80% of the full-time minimum wage.

      that removes the gross disparity between illness disability and accident disability.


      I think the costings will be in the policy or in their tax reform policy


      I'm more in favour of a completely new organisation (ACC has had its own corporate culture problems).

  7. Nic the NZer 7

    I think the implications around abatement rates needs better resolution.

    The thing is many people, especially disabled, are receiving benefits so they don't need to work. Unless you enforce a gap between benefit rates and base income levels (e.g you lower benefit rates), then there must be some overlap between these where more work doesn't result in higher income. Thats because it is an income top up, that is the point.

    The point of the abatement rates is to balance that against somebody else whos whole income comes from work and gets no top ups. As we know TOP proposed something without abatement rates and it wasn't good.

    Some form of abatement rates is necessary so I don't see enough detail to work out how they can be more fair.

    • weka 7.1

      The thing is many people, especially disabled, are receiving benefits so they don't need to work.

      No. Disabled people get SLP because they can't work. Many people on SLP would love to be able to work, even part time.

      Unless you enforce a gap between benefit rates and base income levels (e.g you lower benefit rates), then there must be some overlap between these where more work doesn't result in higher income.


      Thats because it is an income top up, that is the point.

      What's an income top up?

      What did TOP propose?

      Some form of abatement rates is necessary…

      Why? The point of the opening tweet, was to point out that for the people who can't work due to disability, there's no need to have either an income low enough to force them into work, nor an abatement rate. Just pay them a living wage equivalent. I'm interested to hear if you have an argument against that.

      • Nic the NZer 7.1.1

        "Disabled people get SLP because they can't work"

        Its not a very important point. You definitely shouldn't get hung up on a statement I made which sidelines the motivations of people on SLP as they are not relevant to the point being made overall. MSD doesn't agree with your statement that people on SLP can't work, not that its important if they can or can't or do or don't want to for what I am saying overall.



        This is most clear with the TAS payments so I will put it across in terms of these. This generalizes across other welfare payments which are not temporary, but yes I'm more or less ignoring the T is TAS. MSD makes TAS payments so receivers have sufficient total income to pay essential living costs. I'm not claiming MSD assessment of this is particularly generous or fair but just that as long as MSD agreed someone with a lower level of income (and yes, no other assets or savings) applied they would pay TAS such that their total income covered essential living costs. My claim is TAS (among other welfare payments) is designed to top up income to create a minimum level of income for people in NZ. That level is set by MSD's various assessments and may differ by circumstances but its still toping up income to an assessed level. So concretely consider five scenarios,

        a) someone receives a benefit + TAS without work

        b) same as a, but the recipient starts working part time and TAS is abated away (yes at a 100% rate)

        c) someone works part time but also receives TAS.

        d) same as c, but the recipient adds work and TAS is abated away (yes at a 100% rate).

        e) someone works part time to a level where they receive no TAS.

        My claim is that the total income in cases a-e should be the same, regardless how it was earned. Its a top up to the MSD assessed minimum level.

        "What's an income top up?

        What did TOP propose?"

        I'm referring to the original UBI proposed by TOP. This completely dealt with abatements, it made them vanish from the regime. But of course it creates a massive and unacceptable step up between UBI and UBI + work. In fact its quite obvious these are the available choices, either you set a bare minimum income level which is lower than the income of anybody with any amount of work income (this level will be below the necessities), or you set a bare minimum income level above some people earning part time and abate away the top up when their part time earnings go up. Especially with the recent part time and flexible hours employment abatements of some form are a necessary part of the welfare regime.

        "The point of the opening tweet, was to point out that for the people who can't work due to disability, there's no need to have either an income low enough to force them into work, nor an abatement rate."

        The gist of the tweet is reasonable but its what can be said in a tweet. It doesn't mention abatement rates (though your post does, expanding the topic) and if we are actually talking just about people who can't work then they are not going to start work and get into the abatement regime.

        • weka

          before I read all that, can I clarify that you are trying to make a point about benefits generally, that isn't particularly related to the post and the idea that paying disabled beneficiaries a living wage would be a good idea?

          I'm open to talking about the abatement issue, I'm just not very clear what you are trying to do.

          • Nic the NZer

            I'm making a point about abatements being an intrinsic part of a sensible welfare regime (as I understand the issue at least).

            As far as I read that was a part of the post, but not the tweet.

        • SPC

          Yeah sure making a minimum payment of 80% of the MW to those unable to work because of accident or disability is not related to the benefit regime.

          And yes, if people start working they then go off ACC entirely, or onto the benefit and abatement regime.

          The ACC regime usually involves assisting people back into work to save money. Some people are disabled because their medical condition is not being treated because of cost – Pharmac won't subsidise the drug.

          Others can be set up to work from home – tech makes this possible and more employers cater to this. For some it would be a matter of access to higher cost than normal (impairment compensating) tech.

    • Descendant Of Smith 7.2

      "The thing is many people, especially disabled, are receiving benefits so they don't need to work. Unless you enforce a gap between benefit rates and base income levels (e.g you lower benefit rates), then there must be some overlap between these where more work doesn't result in higher income."

      Fuck you are an arse. You think disabled people don't want to work because of the generous benefit they are on? That is some pretty fucked up thinking.

      The vast majority most would work if employers (and society) were accommodating. Employers – and especially state employers (in a reversal of previous government policy until the 80's) simply don't want them.

      There is plenty of well accepted research across the world outlining this but no you think it is them choosing to live n a benefit.

      And COVID has made it substantially worse.

      "It is well established that people with disabilities are more likely than their non-disabled peers to be exposed to financial stressors such as income poverty, food poverty and insecure employment, stressors that are detrimental to health and wellbeing.

      The 2020 global COVID-19 pandemic had a serious impact on the economies of many countries.Country responses to the pandemic have exposed flaws in social systems, revealing differential vulnerabilities among groups, and highlighting the extent to which different groups are marginalized in society. For example, research from population-based studies is beginning to suggest that the initial outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has had a particularly detrimental impact on the psychological wellbeing of adults with disabilities."


      And the government is pretty useless. Their own reports say nothing has changed since they started monitoring in 2017.

      Disabled Persons: In the June 2020 quarter, 22.5 per cent of disabled people were employed, a proportion that has not changed significantly since the series began in 2017. The employment gap between disabled and nondisabled people remains significant at 46.8 percentage points. In the same quarter, the unemployment rate for disabled people is at 7.4 per cent, compared to 3.9 per cent for non-disabled and the labour force participation rate for disabled people was 24.3 per cent, compared with 72.1 per cent for non-disabled people.


      Most of us want to work to feel useful and of value to society. Money makes our lives easier but is not anywhere near our sole motivation.

      • Nic the NZer 7.2.1

        When you've got off your high horse you might want to read it again. I didn't (and don't) claim anything of the sort.

      • Mark 7.2.2

        Do you get the change in look when you walk through interview doors?

        I get it every time.

        Yeah most of us want to be treated as equals but it never works out that way

  8. AB 8

    That little phrase in Sepuloni's message – "high expectations of clients" – always gives me the shivers. Anybody who has ever had real 'clients' (people who pay you for a service) has no expectations of them. You meet their needs in the best way you can and hope it is good enough. They, quite correctly, have "high expectations" of you.

    "High expectations" is a thinly-coded expression of the victim-blaming that animated Bill English's version of "social investment". It's never the way the economy works that is deemed to be deficient, it's always the individual.

    Oh – and I would add from first-hand experience – disability is also damned expensive.

    • weka 8.1

      it really was a terrible tweet, the whole thing, but I agree that that particular phrase (which she puts at the start) was chilling. Said it all.

  9. Because they are worried of the knock on effect for all beneficiaries including superannuitants

  10. pat 10

    A definition of disabled would be helpful

    • arkie 10.1

      The New Zealand Disability Strategy:

      "Disability is not something individuals have. What individuals have are impairments. They may be physical, sensory, neurological, psychiatric, intellectual or other impairments… Disability is the process which happens when one group of people create barriers by designing a world only for their way of living, taking no account of the impairments other people have…"

      Statistics NZ:

      "any self-perceived limitation in activity resulting from a long-term condition or health problem; lasting longer or expected to last longer than six months or more and not completely eliminated by an assistive device".

      The Human Rights Act 1993:

      physical disability or impairment: physical illness: psychiatric illness: intellectual or psychological disability or impairment: any other loss or abnormality of psychological, physiological: or anatomical structure or function: reliance on a guide dog, wheelchair, or other remedial means: the presence in the body of organisms capable of causing illness.

      The World Health Organisation:

      "…any restriction or lack (resulting from an impairment) of ability to perform an activity in the manner of within the range considered normal for a human being".
      The perception of whether a disability exists remains that of the staff member concerned – individuals choose to self-identify as having a disability.

      The UN Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities:

      Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.


      • pat 10.1.1

        Ok, so VERY broad…..if thats the definition in use….and that may be pertinent, especially in a society short on labour …as Nic queried.

        There is disability that makes work impossible and dissability that makes work difficult..and further disability that makes work potentially detrimental …where is the line?

        Mental health is just one that appears to me as a potential can of worms.

        • arkie

          I think the most pertinent is the New Zealand Disability Strategy. The 'disability' comes from a system that largely ignores the existence of people with impairments and assumes that only those without impairment are worthwhile employing. So it's not so much about the impossibility of work as it is about society and it's attitudes.

          Labour hasn't done enough to change those attitudes. Paying a living income to those who have impairments would be a start.

          • pat

            I would suggest that we have done the opposite of ignore impairment…we have IMO broadened impairment to a large degree,

            I submit as an example a family member who has suffered depression throughout his life but held (very effective) employment for 46 years with perhaps a total of 12 months leave for depression….however if he were employed in the same situation now he could potentially claim a disability and consequent benefit.

            Would that be beneficial to him or society?

            • arkie

              If he was able hold (very effective) employment for 46 years then his impairment and society (his employer) was not preventing him from effective participation.

              If his impairment prevented him from holding (very effective) employment for 46 years then he deserves the dignity of a liveable income. Even a living income is still low, the majority of that income will be spent regularly. People spending money is beneficial to society and the economy.

              • pat

                You ignore this however…"if he were employed in the same situation now he could potentially claim a disability and consequent benefit."

                and dont answer the question…"Would that be beneficial to him or society?"

                As said, if we are to discuss supporting the disabled then we must first determine (define) disabled.

                • weka

                  I've just explained below. Access to SLP doesn't come from having a disability, it comes from that disability being severe enough to prevent someone from working. There are many people in NZ with disabilities who work.

                  A definition of the term ‘disability’ isn’t needed here. It’s the incapacity that is the issue.

                • arkie

                  You say 'If he were employed in the same situation…' If he is employed then the impairment hasn't disabled him. People with impairments want to participate in work, it's often the employers that determine the extent of that participation not the people themselves.

                  And I believe I did: people unable to work deserve dignity and by spending their income to live, society is benefited.

                  And as I said, 'disability' is defined by what is considered 'normal'. People with impairments only require income support when employers and society prevent them from fully participating.

                  If we aren't already, we will all become people with impairments at some point in our life.

                  • pat

                    "People with impairments only require income support when employers and society prevent them from fully participating."

                    And that im afraid is bollocks….not every person who considers themself incapable of working is prevented from doing so by either employers or society….sometimes they are prevented by themselves.

                  • pat

                    No…those (possibly) lazy people who ride on the backs of the greatly disabled …you do yourself a disservice.

                    • weka

                      which people are you talking about exactly? How do they convince their GP and WINZ that they're not able to work when they really are?

                    • arkie

                      I would need evidence such people exist in number enough to be concerned about. People prepared to fake a disabling impairment to a medical doctor and to MSD, all for the princely sum of $359 in the pocket.

                      It harks back to concerns about long-term beneficiaries, a very small amount of total beneficiaries and nowhere near as serious a deficit to our society as the total of tax evaded by those not paying-as-they-earn.

                    • pat

                      They dont have to be faking, …especially if the threshold is low.

                    • weka

                      the issue isn't that people fake disability, it's the MSD lets too many people onto a benefit who should be working?

                      This is laughable. In reality what happens is that WINZ refuses eligble people the SLP, they are on JS with a medical exemption instead, living in even worse poverty than SLP. This harms people's health.

                      JS is meant to be a short term benefit. There are disabled people on it permanently.

                      There are also substantial barriers to doing part time work. Labour have made some attempt to resolve that by lifting the abatement rate, but we've also had the massive increase in housing costs, and now the cost of living crisis.

                    • DB Brown

                      Must be bottom feeders!

            • weka

              however if he were employed in the same situation now he could potentially claim a disability and consequent benefit.

              No. You don't get SLP for having a disability. You get it if you are incapacitated for paid work. By definition, if you are able to work, you're not eligible, even if you have a disability.

              As I said in the post, it's quite hard to get on SLP now.

              You can get the Supported Living Payment if you’re 16 or older and you’re permanently and severely restricted in your ability to work because of an illness, injury or disability.

              You must be unable to regularly work more than 15 hours a week, and this incapacity must be expected to continue for at least two years. A doctor will need to assess you and certify that you qualify.


              • pat

                I can assure you he would now qualify for a benefit due to depression by todays measure ….indeed he did at one point (qualify but not claim) some years ago.

                And I know of others currently receiving a benefit due to depression.

                • weka

                  if someone has depression to the extent that they can't work for more than 15 hours a week, then they're eligible. Because of the work incapacity. The work in capacity is what qualifies them, not the depression per se.

                  Whether they would get SLP is a different matter, lots of people with serious mental health issues are on JS because WINZ making getting onto SLP so hard.

                  Do you have a problem with people with severe depression and unable to work getting a benefit?

                  • pat

                    I have a problem with making the threshold so low that it is a potential cop out….which is where we appear to be at.

                    • weka

                      you think not being able to work 15 hours or more a week is too low a threshold? What should it be instead?

                  • pat

                    Build it and they will come.

                    if we make the criteria for non work too low (easy0 then it will be accessed,,,curiously the severely disabled often move heaven and earth to overcome impediments to employment…but there will always be a cohort that are borderline (or gaming the system)…if gthat line moves too far then the whole system becomes unsustainable.

                    Consider a small society, lets say 100 souls, it may be able to complete all required tasks for survival with perhaps 3 or 4 dependent members…can it complete those tasks if it has 20 dependent members?

                    • arkie

                      What percentage of total labour done in our society is for the required tasks of survival though? How many jobs are mostly about enriching a few dependent owners?

                      We have decided that it costs money to live and thus incentivise people to labour, it has precious little to do with the required tasks of survival.

                    • weka

                      if we make the criteria for non work too low

                      please provide some evidence for your assertion that the criteria being used by MSD and certified by GPs and NASCS is too low.

                    • pat

                      Please provide some evidence we can staff our hospitals, rest homes, schools, build enough homes, harvest enough food.

                      In case you havnt been watching we are unable to fulfill all those tasks

                    • weka

                      ok, so you don't have any evidence, but you reckon there are people on a benefit for incapacity to work, who can actually work but are getting a benefit because WINZ makes it too easy.

                      And that somehow these people could instead be working as nurses, teachers, builders etc instead of living in poverty in a benefit. If WINZ made the benefit criteria harder.

                    • weka

                      the really numpty part of your argument is that if we mended welfare, more disabled people would work because so many barriers would be removed.

                      being harder on disabled people living in poverty, makes it less likely that they will be able to work.

                    • pat

                      They may or may not be on a benefit….but I suggest if we loosen the criteria further and/or make the payments higher the numbers will not decrease…and that will be problematic.

                      We dont live in an ideal world.

                    • SPC

                      Please provide some evidence we can staff our hospitals, rest homes, schools, build enough homes, harvest enough food.

                      You might be the first to link the lack of staff in those areas to the numbers on disability benefit.

                    • weka

                      if they're not a benefit they're in extreme poverty, obviously.

                      you're argument is basically that the govt should make getting onto SLP and JS exemption harder to stop bludgers. Your company is David Shearer and Paula Bennet.

                    • weka

                      if you're argument here is economic (we can't afford to pay to keep disabled people out of poverty), there's always the pragmatics of poverty being very expensive to a country. Giving disabled beneficiaries a decent standard of living saves on many social costs to the state as well as making them more productive (in the part time or unwaged economy).

                    • pat

                      "You might be the first to link the lack of staff in those areas to the numbers on disability benefit."

                      In your mind apparently…or you could recognise the reality we have a labour shortage that will not be helped by making not working easier.

                    • pat

                      "you're (sic) argument is basically that the govt should make getting onto SLP and JS exemption harder to stop bludgers. Your company is David Shearer and Paula Bennet."

                      To stop unnecessary work exemption (benefit or not) yes…we need all the labour we can find and this is one area (among others) that must be considered.

                      David and Paula?…think not.
                      Perhaps David though i have difficulty recalling his position on anything.

                    • weka

                      To stop unnecessary work exemption (benefit or not) yes…we need all the labour we can find and this is one area (among others) that must be considered.

                      we should use children too.

                      David and Paula?…think not.
                      Perhaps David though i have difficulty recalling his position on anything.

                      Shearer's Painter on the Roof story. Advocating that benefits should be harder to get on to stop bludgers irrespective of how this impacts on disabled people is exactly the kind of punitive, backwards thinking that Bennett used.

                      Economically it's counter productive.

                    • pat

                      You would be better served arguing for a job guarantee that would facilitate an expanded criteria and then greater financial/health support for those unable to utilise such a scheme due to disability.

                    • SPC

                      pat, even NACT do not believe that poverty amongst those on the disability/SL benefits will increase workforce supply.

                      And saying having benefits at poverty level, is of design to make not working difficult, is itself questionable. It might create health problems.

                      What next, vigilantes hired to harass those not working with white feathers, broken windows policing, end is nigh religion warnings about idle hands and related prank phone calls?

                      A government could increase worker numbers simply by matching wages paid to nurses/doctors and teachers in Oz.

                      And no one is better than ACC at getting people off payments and into work.

                    • pat

                      SPC…if you read what I have written you notice I havnt said poverty level benefits will increase labour supply…I have said making the criteria/ support level greater/easier will not increase labour supply.

                      If alleviating poverty amongst the disabled is the goal then an employment guarantee is a solution that offers engagement, improved income, skills and demonstrates to both the individual and potential employers capability…..and it enlarges the workforce.

                      Then you have the opportunity for greater assistance to the reduced pool of disabled who are unable to participate in such a scheme.

                      Simply increasing benefit rates (and to what level?) provides little of the benefit of an employment guarantee

                      One of the complaints of many disabled is the lack of opportunity to work

                    • pat


                      What is economically counterproductive?

                    • weka

                      I already said why it's counter productive to keep disabled people in poverty.


                      easy example: increased costs to the health system

                    • SPC

                      Requiring those on disability/SL to be available for employment is not an employment guarantee. And limited numbers could/would be placed into work based on W and I track record.

                      Keeping disability/SL payments low while this impost was going on would be perverse.

                      I havnt said poverty level benefits will increase labour supply…I have said making the criteria/ support level greater/easier will not increase labour supply

                      Who cares, policy as to the income support level of those with disability is not based on labour supply management. It is in enhancing work capability.

                      There is a real gain from having an ACC regime applying – they operate on an investment based way to enhance work capability.

                  • weka

                    You would be better served arguing for a job guarantee that would facilitate an expanded criteria and then greater financial/health support for those unable to utilise such a scheme due to disability.

                    not sure if you were talking to me, but this is a trickle down theory. If abled bodied people had jobs we could afford to not let disabled people live in poverty. At what point would there be enough tax dollars to lift disabled people out of poverty?

                    • pat

                      I think you may be a little confused about trickle down….and the impact of a jobs guarantee.

                      A jobs guarantee is the antithesis of trickle down.

                      As to increased health costs, that could be considered an increase in GDP, not a good one (a lot arn't) but one nonetheless.

                      What difference to health outcomes do you believe any reasonably likely SLP increase will have?…there will not be a doubling of payment (or anything close) by any administration, any increase will be a metaphorical band aid and your concerns will continue unaddressed.

      • Mark 10.1.2

        There is a nice little clause in use from the Disabilities Strategy most people are unaware of – the allowance for employers to pay under the minimum wage based on the mental ability of the employee.

        100% legal to treat the mentally disabled differently.
        I discovered this when I did some volunteer work at the local sheltered workshop.

  11. Stuart Munro 11

    The question itself is a damning indictment. There is simply no excuse.

    • pat 11.1

      How so?

      • weka 11.1.1

        because people who can't work due to disability deserve to have a decent standard of living, and Labour should know this.

      • Stuart Munro 11.1.2

        As it is with retirement, though less so after thirty years of failed austerity policies, our expectation is that handicapped people should enjoy financial security and a modest degree of comfort.

        The nonsense arguments directed at beneficiaries, which really only amount to griefing, can not apply in any moral sense to people with handicaps, and anyone that extends them to them deserves a serious reprimand.

        The failures of Labour in this matter put them in the same basket with Starmer and Roger Douglas, lying, self-serving centrists with neither economic competence nor redeeming human values.

  12. Mark 12

    I was probably one of the last disabled people to have access to the Mainstream Programme – designed to help long term disabled people back into work. It was shut down after National gave rich people tax cuts. My 2 year placement ended under National and I was back to looking out the window at home being supported by my wife.

    I got a qualification as a computer technician, my lowest mark was a B, I tried using my new qualification to enter the workforce again. If I put on my CV that I had a disability I never heard from them again, if I said nothing I got funny looks at the interview door and it was always a no. I gave up trying.

    Then on top of it all I face constant discrimination by the govt, sure my wife earns above MSD cutoff point of $56k a year but it means I dont get any help or support.

    If I wasnt born disabled and got it via an accident ACC would help out but if you’re like me born disabled nobody helps you, you’re stuck with a snail pace public health system, no help with rehabilitation and no help finding employment in a world that just discriminates against me.

    Politicians just dont give a fuck just like the rest of NZ.

    • weka 12.1

      it's an appalling situation, both the discrepancy between accident and born with or illness, and the unwillingness of most of NZ to give a shit. Most people don't know how bad it is, but they're not that interested in finding out either.

      • Mark 12.1.1

        Just before Covid hit my wife lost her job, she went on unemployment and I went on Supported Living Payment, near the end of our initial isolation period she managed to find another job (even had her job interview isolating using Zoom) and I was again kicked off the benefit, it felt strange suddenly having constant regular money hitting my account, shame it only lasted 2 months.

    • SPC 12.2

      Given ACC pays out to people who have working partners, you have reason to support Green policy of transferring those unable to work because of disability to the ACC orbit.

      The other positive is that ACC will invest in getting people into work to save money (and MW plus is better than 80% of the MW), home based tech/training/employer matching.

  13. roblogic 13

    Poignant thoughts from a person facing terminal illness

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