Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Cui bono?

128 Responses

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  • Hilary Stace,

    Thank you, Emma.
    (A little more trust in people would be appreciated, rather than money in trusts)

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3203 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Our son had his benefit stopped on the second day of his first solo travelling (to Wellington). He handled it – and we got some money into his account – but it could easily have caused serious anxiety.

    W&I insist they sent a letter (they didn't) saying that he not only had to pay to see our doctor to confirm he’s still autistic (done, filed, etc), he had to come in for an interview with someone who wouldn’t have a damn clue about autism. I really have no idea what this interview will consist of.

    The thing is, he really wants more work. It would be nice if someone helped him with that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    A friend has messaged me to let me know my stand-down periods in this post are wrong. I will edit the post, just as soon as I can get the site to freaking load that page. Stand-downs are here. Usually two weeks (though also they pay in arrears, so it's really three weeks), and can be thirteen weeks.

    She also says that removing the stand-down would save them having to collect information from previous employers, who often don't provide it in a 'timely manner'.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Fucking hell.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2896 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    rather than money in trusts

    The dosh hoarded by the uber-wealthy could easily fund a UBI - which has the big advantage of not sitgmatising people when they need income support.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    A comment from another friend has made me remember something I really should have included: basic competence. The piles of contradictory letters. The losing of the important documents they've made you give them.

    When our children were little and we were living on an Invalid's Benefit because I was too sick to look after the kids, WINZ stole from us. We'd received payments we were perfectly entitled to. They sent us a letter telling us they were taking that money back - they'd already reached into our bank account and started taking it out. Now, we're smart articulate people and after a few days of furious phone calls we managed to get it sorted out. But there is such a high level of screw-up, and the stories I hear are all so similar, that it's clearly not just a couple of staff. It's the system itself.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to Russell Brown,

    That requirement to reconfirm an ASD or other permanent diagnosis went about a decade ago. They shouldn't be asking, but yours is not the only recent example I have heard about. I mentioned it to someone senior in MSD who didn't believe it was still happening.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3203 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    Sadly WINZ's primary function is no longer about getting people into gainful employment, but rather to tell them in a polite way that they're worthless lead-swingers. It seems Christine Rankin's perfume still permeates the place.

    NZ needs to set up a branch of the Black Triangle Campaign.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5420 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    That requirement to reconfirm an ASD or other permanent diagnosis went about a decade ago. They shouldn't be asking, but yours is not the only recent example I have heard about. I mentioned it to someone senior in MSD who didn't believe it was still happening.

    It's certainly still happening for Deaf people.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Emma Hart,

    I think we can date the high level of screw-ups from the time benefit administration was taken away from individual case managers. I have a friend who worked for DSW (as it was then) in the 80s, and at that time all the letters were handwritten by your case manager, who would have met you. And if a mistake was made, it was on that one person, who you could ring up and speak to. And if you weren’t happy you would ask to speak to their supervisor, who was in the same physical office.

    Now, beneficiaries get all kinds of random mail, generated by unknown functionaries in varying locations and who you can’t speak to or hold accountable.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    I I have a blind friend who has been asked to produce his driver's licence at WINZ.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • matthew, in reply to Sacha,

    Indeed. De stigmatsing social welfare is one the most persuasive reasons to support a ubi.

    auckland • Since Nov 2013 • 22 posts Report Reply

  • Mellopuffy,

    I'm in the process of applying for a Job Seekers Benefit. First thing I have to do is attend a seminar about my obligations when on the benefit. Once ive done that then I *may* get a appointment with an actual person, which is like to do so I don't make any errors when reporting me and my ex's child support arrangement. The time of the seminars? 1.45pm daily. So I can't go on the days I'm responsible for school pickup. If I was a sole parent I'd be in a pretty difficult situation - as it is I have to wait an entire week before I can get into a seminar. So it's another week before I can apply for the benefit. The person I spoke to to make the appointment acknowledged it was a stupid time to have the seminars. But they're not held at any other time. *sigh*

    Dunedin, NZ • Since Feb 2007 • 63 posts Report Reply

  • WaterDragon,

    First and foremost, nice piece Emma.
    Second, re requirement to re-confirm you are still disabled-I've seen policy that says it will be gone on a number of occasions, yet it is still around-large as life and twice as repellent.They appear unable to walk their talk.
    The practice will lurk, rather like a cane toad in the practices and pieces of paper. It will continue to lurk while they talk social model of disability and policy-formulation:- a stupid beyond belief (disabled friends in Australia would call it wankpenguin) operationalisation of policy.
    Third, what I think is really important: these blokes and blokesses absolutely need to realign the savagery that is the abatement regime. It totally stuffs up pretty well any beneficiary, but impacts particularly hard on disabled people, notably those who need to use a lot of money to get to the workplace because they can't use public transport.

    Behind you • Since Jul 2011 • 76 posts Report Reply

  • WaterDragon, in reply to Lilith __,

    They are geniuses in the dark art of having idiotic thoughts in full flight-Weber would have been much more elegant, calling such behaviour bureaupathic.

    Behind you • Since Jul 2011 • 76 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Darlington,

    Friend of ours reported there's a regular requirement for her to arrange confirmation for W&I that yes, her daughter does still have Down Syndrome. Maybe they're thinking there might be a "cure" for it, or it might just go away via some miraculous re-arrangement of the genome.

    Since Nov 2006 • 56 posts Report Reply

  • Andre,

    I was on a benefit over Xmas as an employer laid me off with no reason under the 90 day clause in our contract, explaining that he was saving money over a slow time of the year by doing so. I squeezed into the Job Seeker course and was amazed they never mentioned LinkedIn for example. The entire system seems to be dependent on the beneficiaries having a device and internet connection or an ability to visit a WINZ office to use theirs. I imagine many can't afford this.
    So a week before Xmas I managed to get an appointment at a WINZ office a few suburbs away that wasn’t booked out (just because I asked the woman on the phone to check all of the other offices, luckily, otherwise I would have waited another ten days with no support). They were very helpful and got us through a tough time, but on a subsistence level only, obviously. I’d hate to be stuck on the dole for any longer than a month though. The stand-down period is plain stupid. The refusal to tell you what you are fully entitled to is Machiavellian. The underlying psychology that it is your fault that you are out of work and that you are somehow avoiding gaining employment is demeaning. The fact that the employee giving the job course is probably less able than you are at finding work was as hilarious as it was to most of those on it. The request to apply for 20 jobs a week that you probably may not really want to do backed by threats to cut off your benefit is leading companies to receive hundreds of useless applications for jobs from completely unqualified applicants, costing millions of dollars in wasted time going through them by managers and HR people.
    I got a job in the end, but the system often seemed bizarre, demotivating and depressing.

    New Zealand • Since May 2009 • 364 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    That requirement to no longer reconfirm a permanent diagnosis was one of the last actions of the last Labour government – so about 2007. A few years later a National voting friend, no longer having to reconfirm her impairment, congratulated the National government for getting rid of it. But funny and sad how punitive policy never really goes away.

    What annoys me is how easy it is to cut a benefit eg within hours of going overseas for three days in my son’s case, which then took three weeks to rectify. And also how inflexible they are. I have been having a paper war with W & I since January trying to prove that my son didn’t have some secret slush (trust?) fund income since he lost his part time job in December 2015. My analysis of his sparse Kiwibank account is not enough. They want detailed official accounts covering a calendar year when most agencies like Kiwibank use the financial year. All over a few dollars a week. I am his authorised agent and I have no idea how his peers without an advocate or agent ever manage with all the complex requirements.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3203 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Oh and the Kiwibank person then said that W & I had automatic access to beneficiary bank accounts so all this paperwork wasn't even necessary. Joined up government only seems to work against people not for them.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3203 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    Joined up government only seems to work against people not for them

    Human Rights Commissioner has his worries on that score.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    The twenty job applications a week rule is blowing my mind. What a waste of time and energy for everyone. When I was looking for work for two months late last year I think I may have applied for... ten to fifteen jobs, total? There's absolutely no point in applying for things for which you are woefully under- or over-qualified. That's pure ideological hoop-jumping.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Angela Hart, in reply to Danielle,

    It's about punishment and humiliation Danielle. I know people who are on illegal casual term time only contracts who do not apply for a benefit even over the long Christmas break because the treatment is so damaging. It means scrimping during the paid weeks to have enough to live on over the unpaid ones, but that is not as soul destroying as being in the power of MSD.

    Christchurch • Since Apr 2014 • 614 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Angela Hart,

    It’s about punishment and humiliation Danielle.

    So gross. The clearly deliberate loss of documents is all part of the punishment package, I assume.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Angela Hart, in reply to Danielle,

    I don't know about deliberate loss of documents, but I do know that they get lost with monotonous regularity. I now take forms to the reception desk and require a receipt when I hand 'em over. Haven't had any losses since I started doing this. My daughter hasn't had to reprove her permanent disability for a few years now. One of the lucky ones by the sound of it.

    Christchurch • Since Apr 2014 • 614 posts Report Reply

  • Angela Hart,

    Thanks for the post Emma, this is such a big topic. We have been watching what has been happening in the UK with trepidation because NZ nearly always follows suit, mistakes and all.

    Christchurch • Since Apr 2014 • 614 posts Report Reply

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