Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Welfare: Back to the Future?

203 Responses

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  • Danielle,

    Well, that counts me out, then.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3628 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Might break with tradition and comment on the report itself once I've read the damn thing, rather than the pre-emptive spin and counter-spin.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11867 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    My brother and his partner are low-income: she job-shares at Parliament, he’s studying. My nephew is rapidly approaching 2. They were living in Hamilton (both sets of grandparents are there, so there was a support network), but living with her mother was highly stressful, the money situation was stressful, and there was the opportunity to share her old job, that she loves, in Wellington. So they wanted to move.
    WINZ fucked them about for weeks on moving costs. Said there was money available, right up until the point the money was needed to arrange a moving company and then said that there wasn’t. Of course they’d refused to put anything in writing when they said it was available. In the end I loaned them money so that they could make rent and food for the first fortnight.

    SIL says that since Pull-ya took over, WINZ has become a place where everyone is viewed as wanting to cheat the system. She was asked outright if her relationship with my brother was a scam to get money. Uh, hello, they’ve been together for four or five years, they have a toddler and are still together. That’s a pretty elaborate scam.

    Whatever WWG’s report says, things for beneficiaries will only get worse. As it is anyone who’s halfway competent avoids dealing with WINZ if they can. I was out of work for nearly four months before I applied for the dole, just so that I wouldn’t have to be subjected to the WINZ treatment. To be fair it was actually a lot less painful than I expected (probably helped by showing up in a suit and tie and demonstrating that I’d been looking for work), and in the end I got a job a week before my UEB was confirmed, but the guy I dealt with also said that they don’t have a clue how to handle highly-skilled, highly-motived people with experience in a “niche” (Linux and IP networks) field. Which, currently, is a lot of the people who are looking for work. People who, no doubt, WWG will accuse of being no-hope deadbeats who just need to try harder to find a job, because jobs are salvation. Or something.

    About the only positive right now is that it’s come after the Teflon coating has, finally, started to wear off Key.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3898 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Are you feeling OK?

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3898 posts Report Reply

  • Juha Saarinen,

    For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.

    Since Nov 2006 • 523 posts Report Reply

  • Fooman,

    Obviously things must change to improve, so the the beatings will actually increase, until moral improves.

    Lower Hutt • Since Dec 2009 • 87 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Tickety-boo. The endorphins and serotonin released during multiple Morning Report-induced screaming fits haven't worn off yet.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11867 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    SIL says that since Pull-ya took over, WINZ has become a place where everyone is viewed as wanting to cheat the system

    At least she has the nous to know that she's being messed around. I've been quite shocked at the way the goalposts have moved at WINZ without the bother of formally changing the rules.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18709 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed,

    Paula Bennett announces the release of Forbes-Coates v2.0.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4158 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    I've got nothing to say.

    [nothing that isn't heat]

    Well, I might say that having just held my 14 week old nephew, the thought of him being torn away from his mother is an extremely serious one.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2132 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Russell Brown,

    At least she has the nous to know that she’s being messed around

    Where she works, and who she works for, gives her a lot of knowledge. It doesn't help her get treated any better, but she at least knows how to determine her entitlements and ask for them. It's bullshit that WINZ will make sure you're getting what you ought, unless you ask for every penny. They're volunteering nothing.
    Right now, I think IRD are probably more helpful than WINZ, and they're there to take your money!

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3898 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,


    For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.

    Believe it or not, I actually agree with this to a very large degree. People of productive capacity should be contributing to society. But since state provision of universal employment is detested by both major parties, and we don't all have sheep or own land where we plant our grains, this is beside the point. Either there is a job for you, or there is not.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2132 posts Report Reply

  • Sue,

    on the concept of tame GPS i used to see an independent GP every 2 years but winz stopped that last time i needed to be medically checked, i have no idea why you would stop independent checking by a 3rd party GP, unless that was a budget cut?

    Also hands up anyone at winz longer than 2 years who had the same case manager? I get a new one every year who i only meet when i go in for financial review, some are good some are not so. One year my case manager was so awesome she lost all my forms and my benefit was stopped without any notice.

    So
    today i am a mix of angry and scared
    angry becuase i know this is all about money and numbers and not about what is best for a person or for their children. Granted some children might be better in day care than with their mum, most i suspect would not.


    personally I am scared
    That after having tried work 3 times and finding that no matter what kind of work i do i can't manage it, and end up on the invalids benefit again. Scared that this report is going to force me into doing the one thing that is confirmed to screw with my mental and physical health.

    Because i know i can't work traditionally (i can be good one day/week/month) bad the other. I'm slowly attempting to build my own business that works around my health in the hope that one day i will make enough to become benefit free. My case manger last year and my manager the year before were ok with that, but what if new rules make this unable to be ok.

    maybe i'll be ok but i don;t see that happening.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 471 posts Report Reply

  • Tristan,

    I've always been intrested in what happens if you benefit is 'cut' what happens to you. Where do you go when your only source of income is gone? Do you move in with family? Do you become homeless? Do you knock off a liqor store?

    Welfare is a saftey net what happens when you take it away?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 195 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed,

    And another thought: the have-nots are pontificated to on the one hand for not budgeting properly... BUT... on the other hand they're also ridiculed for being unable, or refusing, to have the latest Nike/Range Rover/Bravia or what have you. Materialism is the middle-class Whaddarya.

    And Peter Milne is just the tip of the iceberg - Masters degree, but still gets 120 rejections. He knows his intelligence has been insulted.

    Welfare is a saftey net when happens when you take it away?

    Egypt or Tunisia, methinks? And what of the unintended consequences of 'welfare reform'? No safety net -> greater fear of unemployment -> more resistance to lay-offs -> bossnapping... you get the general idea.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4158 posts Report Reply

  • Mikaere Curtis,

    Gordon Campbell's article in this month's Werewolf addresses the myths on which the likes of Rebstock are building their recommendations.

    As Campbell says:

    It is a very odd situation. The same politicians who have been unable to manage an economy so that it employs people, are now blaming people for not finding jobs that do not exist.

    When the jobs are there, as they were in the mid-2000s, the dole queue empties out, and when there aren't, it fills up. Chucking people off welfare because they aren't sufficiently diligent in finding jobs that simply do not exist will not address the situation; it will only serve to increase hardship, poverty and crime.

    Tamaki Makaurau • Since Nov 2006 • 455 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I’ve been quite shocked at the way the goalposts have moved at WINZ without the bother of formally changing the rules.

    And that’s something Bennett could actually do a real public service by sorting. I didn’t want to be on a benefit, and it was profoundly unhelpful (to put it mildly) when you acted in good faith only to be told that the goalposts hadn’t moved – you were now stuck playing table tennis with a hockey stick.

    It’s not a precise analogy, but it’s not entirely dissimilar to dealing with the IRD. Pretty hard to engage in any mid- to long-term financial planning when you can’t get the same straight answer to a straight question twice in a row, while the consequencces of getting it wrong are potentially horrific.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11867 posts Report Reply

  • Sarah Wedde,

    The gap between theoretically being able to work 15 hours a week, and finding someone to employ a sick or disabled person for the variable 15 hours a week they're not incapacitated is vast.

    Thank goodness we're running at full employment for the healthy though, right?

    Lower Hutt • Since Nov 2006 • 66 posts Report Reply

  • Tristan, in reply to Sarah Wedde,

    Sarah is quite right and I had a simlar though this morning when Phil Goff was on the telly.

    National is effectily trying to move the states responiblity for sick people on to employers. There are plenty of abled bodied people who are looking for work so there is not much reason for employers to do this (unless they pay them significantly less)

    Oh and National have given them a nice out with the 90 day trial law. Try being somone who has to take time off for sickness getting past 90 days..

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 195 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed,

    And from my own experiences on the dole (2001-2002), the dole is hardly a lifestyle choice. If anything, it's akin to house arrest. Can't afford to socialise with friends, can't afford to do much full stop, and it makes you the black sheep of the family for it.

    Also, you can tell that the usual suspects have run out of ideas when they have to resort to weakening conditions to create jobs.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4158 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Since this is likely to be a rather down thread; I'm enjoying a lot of the recession humour coming from the US. Thought Catalog deserves an honourable mention, for its ironic un/deremployed graduate aesthetic.

    I have noticed ironic humour coming back, for better but mostly worse. 1991, all over again.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2132 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    As it is anyone who’s halfway competent avoids dealing with WINZ if they can. I was out of work for nearly four months before I applied for the dole, just so that I wouldn’t have to be subjected to the WINZ treatment.

    That's a deliberate design feature, a deterrant to keep dole costs low. But the result is extra human desperation and suffering.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1630 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher, in reply to Sarah Wedde,

    The gap between theoretically being able to work 15 hours a week, and finding someone to employ a sick or disabled person for the variable 15

    I know a guy who can only work 30 hours a week due to a chronic illness. He's lucky that he has a good job that pays reasonably well, but he's stuck in that job. He's become quite bored with it, can't move laterally because all other employers are looking for a full-time worker, and there's no room for promotion for similar reasons.

    I can't imagine it'd be any easier for an unemployed person on the sickness benefit.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1851 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Efforts to get more disabled people into sustainable work will be welcomed if they are done properly and resourced sufficiently. However confidence about that is not high. Will add more later.

    I share Russell's reservations about the system's current capacity to work with disabled job-seekers. I particularly lament the lack of focus on the main barriers to employment - which we know are the attitudes of employers and society, not anything to do with disabled people's actual capacity to contribute. Working on that now, but not nearly enough in place.

    At a summit for employers hosted by MSD in 2005 at which I was one of only a few disabled attendees, it was clear there were groundless fears from smart employers (including the head of one of the largest businesses in the country) about hiring disabled staff.

    The recently established Employers Disability Network is a response to that. Despite solid support on board, the time elapsed since 2005 should tell you something about how this is valued across the political spectrum. Systemic problems with abatement rates and other arrangements that impede suitable part-time work for sickness and 'invalid' beneficiaries also need to be addressed after years of knowing inaction.

    The prevailing weakness in the WWG's thinking so far is that disabled people will all be getting back to work. That reflects the only member of their group with any disabililty expertise being a rehabilitation academic, and the rest sharing common misperceptions amongst most New Zealanders that disability is just being sick for a long time.

    Another glaring weakness is a seeming reliance on doctors to assess a disabled person's capacity for work - straying beyond their clinical expertise and further reinforcing existing prejudices about disability being an indivdualised medical problem rather than a systemic social one for all of us to solve.

    In practical terms, Simon Collins examines a likely model for some of the WWG's changes - ACC's pilot scheme to get people off their books faster.

    Better@Work, which began in Taupo and Hawkes Bay, has been praised by the Government's Welfare Working Group as a model for getting many of our 145,000 sickness and invalid beneficiaries into work.

    ...

    Better@Work steps in as soon as an injured worker turns up at a doctor's clinic. ACC pays the doctor an extra $50 to spend an extra 15 minutes with the patient to discuss their work and write a report on what they can do, as well as what they can't do.

    The doctor's report is transmitted instantly to a Better@Work coordinator in the clinic's primary health organisation (PHO), who must negotiate a return-to-work plan with the injured worker and the employer within five days.

    Dr Glen Davies, a Taupo doctor who worried at first that the scheme might pressure people back to work, now sees it as a rare case of "everyone wins". Workers keep their jobs, employers keep their workers, and no one loses money because workers can get partial ACC payments as long as they can't work at full strength.

    ACC compo, which is 80 per cent of workers' former wages if they can't work at all, is not reduced until the employer pays more than 20 per cent of the former wage.

    ...

    Jeremy Mihaka-Dyer, who ran the Lake Taupo PHO until last October, says the scheme cut $1.1 million off the district's ACC weekly compo costs in its first year - a saving of almost 10 per cent. The net saving to ACC, after paying the doctors' fees and Ms Mintoft's salary, was between $900,000 and $950,000.

    The scheme's most controversial element is that ACC pays half of that net profit back to the doctors as an inducement to use the scheme.

    Ms Kelly says unions objected to the profit-sharing because it risked "warping" the scheme.

    The Medical Council said last year that the arrangement raised important ethical issues.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16491 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Sue,

    Because i know i can't work traditionally (i can be good one day/week/month) bad the other. I'm slowly attempting to build my own business that works around my health in the hope that one day i will make enough to become benefit free. My case manger last year and my manager the year before were ok with that, but what if new rules make this unable to be ok.

    I want to see more of this - the best answer is often to build work around yourself rather than try to influence change in someone else's arrangements.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16491 posts Report Reply

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