WINZ dysfunctional

Written By: - Date published: 12:07 pm, October 5th, 2015 - 22 comments
Categories: benefits, class war, spin, welfare - Tags: , , ,

I guess it’s not exactly news that WINZ is dysfunctional, but its interesting to have some actual data on one of the symptoms:

Complaints about Work and Income up almost 30 per cent under National

Since National took office in 2008 the number of complaints about incorrect information being provided by Work and Income has increased by 122 per cent from 537 complaints in 2008 to 1197 this year.

On top of the increase in incorrect information complaints, there has also been a 62 per cent increase in complaints about Work and Income staff attitudes, and a 66 per cent increase in procedural complaints.

In total, complaints at the Government department have risen by almost 30 per cent from 5695 in 2008 to 7228 this year.

Squeeze any organisation hard enough and of course it will start to break down. The fact that WINZ staff are the front line of implementing the Nat’s beneficiary bashing agenda also doesn’t help of course. Naturally the Nats propose another explanation:

A staggering increase in complaints by Work and Income clients has been written off by a Government ministry who blames the increase on more Kiwis using its services.

“In 2008 there were 850,532 people receiving a benefit from the ministry. This number grew in 2009 to 923,105 with the increase in part attributed to the impact of the Global Financial Crisis and the growth in our ageing population,” a ministry spokeswoman said. To date there are 1,045,837 clients on Work and Income’s books …

An 23% increase [updated for current figure not 2009] in users does not account for a 30% increase in complaints, especially as that increase is due to counting superannuitants who have the least cause to complain. Note that the Nats are always telling us that numbers on the benefit are falling. Now when it suits them they include superannuitants, and lo the numbers on benefits are up!

22 comments on “WINZ dysfunctional”

  1. greywarshark 1

    I wondered Anthony how come WINZ could say that a higher number of benefit recipients were the cause for a higher number of complaints? WINZ has been saying happily that they have dropped heaps of stitches out of their unravelling security blanket.
    (Nice analogy eh. I give myself 10 out of 10 for that.)

    So us oldies get pulled in to give the appearance of balance on the scales of justice. When it comes to the nation’s welfare we tend to weigh heavy on the scales, so they must have had to juggle a bit to get a steady state reading!

    • Chris 1.1

      There’s no doubt been an increase in the number of people approaching MSD for help but the number of people getting a benefit has decreased hugely. Gatekeeping problem has got out of hand since last big shake-up. Was big enough before but is now MSD’s main MO for reducing numbers. Quite wrong for many reasons but when challenged MSD and government just deny, deny, deny.

      • greywarshark 1.1.1

        There must be many unhappy people out there. And it is interesting how people can get on top of their feelings and have some enjoyment even when times are hard, if there is hope, and some concern and help. The Great Depression is described in some reminiscences as harsh but having camaraderie, and children managed to rise above the difficult times.

        But I think the Min of SW doesn’t do as much for people in need as the governments in the Depression. I think things are worse now because the country is split through.
        On one side a man getting a rise of A LOT through Fonterra (was it $75,000 or $750,000pa), and on the other people are deprived of necessities by WINZ staff on a whim or bad mood because of indigestion or traffic problems on the way to the office.

        • Chris

          Many people have now given up applying so the problem has now taken on a new dimension. The likes of Bennett and Tolley just don’t want to know. Certainly evidence that they wanted this to happen from the start. They really must be quite heartless people.

  2. Mike the Savage One 2

    From that article:

    “On top of the increase in incorrect information complaints, there has also been a 62 per cent increase in complaints about Work and Income staff attitudes, and a 66 per cent increase in procedural complaints.

    In total, complaints at the Government department have risen by almost 30 per cent from 5695 in 2008 to 7228 this year.”

    I also see a table listing complaints and types of them, and look at the huge increase from the year 2012/13 to 2013/14 in “action taken” complaints.

    That was a 28 percent increase of complaints about decisions WINZ staff made from one year to the following, which will include actions about sanctions, as I may presume.

    Remember that in July 2013 the very draconian new regime started, with the change of benefit types, the abolition of the former “sickness benefit” (merged with others into ‘Jobseeker Support’), and also other changes, including a stronger work ability assessment regime and also social obligations and more harsh sanctions for not meeting obligations.

    But they are not only stuffing up in making decisions based on incorrect information, or by offering incorrect information on a case by case, they present information and supposed “evidence” that is not what it is made out to be. In short, they are misinforming the public about the supposed medical scientific evidence on “worklessness”, on “health benefits of work”, on the risks associated with sickness absence:

    Or use this link, for a PDF with the same info, for easier reading:

  3. McFlock 3

    The 8.5% increase was 2008 to 2009.
    From the article:

    To date there are 1,045,837 clients on Work and Income’s books

    850,532 to 1,045,837 is a 23% increase, by my (notoriously unreliable) math.

    Which is still significantly lower than the 30% increase in complaints – they’ve just increased by half as much again, rather than three times the rate.

  4. infused 4

    I’d expect that under a gfc since not much has really changed.

    You will find the ‘clients’ uptake will be a bell curve over the last 7 years in relation to the complaints.

    Nevermind. OP can’t maths.

  5. red-blooded 5

    McFlock, I think your math may well be unreliable. I make it 18.67%. Still more than 8, but a hell of a lot less than 30.

    • McFlock 5.1

      lol I could well have fumbled it.

      My working was:


      i.e. the difference between 2008 and 2015 divided by the 2008 number, as a percentage.
      So it’s an increase on 2008, not a decrease on 2015

      • Lanthanide 5.1.1

        That is the correct way to calculate a percentage change since a benchmark.

        • red-blooded

          Hey – your method may well be correct (I’m no maths whizz). Even your way it still comes up as 22.96, though.

  6. rob 6

    i got a letter threatening me with court action about wages i had received and not declared not long ago and was stressing me out! it was all declared when i earned it BUT wasn’t put into my account until the next month as this particular person does his accounts like that.(not my fault at all) my obligation is to take any work available! i had been told by winz that i had to declare each week regardless. but because the amount was paid in total and fell in the next month i had to explain myself to some dipshit winz person who didn’t really want to listen, just spoke to me like i was scamming them. just complete assholes.

    • Lanthanide 6.1

      Yeah, this is a really difficult and typical situation.

      If you follow the letter of the law, you get pinged by idiots who don’t understand their own policies.

      If you just say “these people are idiots, the law is stupid, I’ll just report things in a way that makes sense for them”, then you get pinged for not following the law.

      My sister had similar sorts of problems when she was at university and was entitled to a student allowance. She had a variety of circumstances where some years she worked and other years she didn’t, but none of them were particularly unusual. She said that not one single time did anyone at WINZ correctly determine what she was entitled to – and this was the WINZ branch at the university for whom this should be their bread and butter!

  7. rob 7

    and didn’t complain, so just the tip of the iceberg.
    got a letter today stating i declared $85 a couple of weeks ago and was overpaid buy $3 something on my bene last week so have to pay that back. what a joke, the paper a postage would have coated more than that. they are fucking hopeless

    • Lanthanide 7.1

      “what a joke, the paper a postage would have coated more than that. they are fucking hopeless”

      Yes, but if they didn’t follow this up, a lot of people would quickly work out that they could scam the government out of $3 or $4 here and there. If only a couple of people do it, it’s not a big deal.

      But if a few thousand people do it every week, it soon adds up to a lot of money.

      • McFlock 7.1.1

        well, yes and no – all they need to do is forego a couple and then issue a totalised letter, unless it’s over a “send bill now” threshhold or remains under the “who cares” threshhold

        • Lanthanide

          Yeah, I thought of that. Probably make the threshold $5.

          Can’t be too high, because then you’d have people ending up with demands for money they can’t pay because they already spent it.

  8. rob 8

    even if all did it for 3-4 bucks still won’t come to the amount of the millions of tax avoiding pricks.
    seems so unjust me. try to do the right thing, for what!

  9. Kay 9

    Those numbers are just the reported complaints. In reality most of us haven’t got the mental or physical strength to go through the process. If we did, Tolley wouldn’t have a hope in hell of spinning her way out of it.

  10. linda 10

    this is why shot guns are becoming popular at winz

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