Acclaim Otago have done a great job and achieved something, taking issues to the UN. But WINZ beneficiaries have too little history in working together, and they are more fragmented and even more marginalised, so it is a struggle to even get some to speak up or out about what they experience. Auckland Action Against Poverty will have a lot to say about that.
Yes, ideally more action and more concerted action is needed, but doing it is not that easy. There is so much fear amongst those on benefits, they rather tow the line of MSD and WINZ, and in some ways it resembles the way the jews under the Nazis were trying all to save their own skins, making compromises, and not daring to rock the boat, as they really fear losing all, should they not do so.
It is a sad and vicious situation many face, and it is very depressing. One would have thought, that such persons as Professor Gluckman would have the decency to speak up, and to remind the government of their responsibilities. I fear things have now got out of control and much more serious damage may need to happen, before any of the mentioned parties and stakeholders may review what they are doing.
As you comment correctly, many advocates and other services depend on government funding also, but that has been cut to the bone, make no doubt as to why!
Further to Angela's last comment: A few years ago Sue Bradford tried to bring a bill into Parliament, when she was still with the Greens, seeking an amendment to the Social Security Act, to allow appeals beyond Medical Appeal Boards, and to also allow some other fairer steps under social security legislation. But as National had then already taken over as government, it was never allowed to go anywhere, and since then she left Parliament.
I fear things have now got out of control and much more serious damage may need to happen, before any of the mentioned parties and stakeholders may review what they are doing.
I agree with you. If there isn't an honest, open and voluntary change of direction from those in power, NZ will see social upheaval forced by the many with nothing much left to lose. It's the direction the juggernaut is headed in. Will the warnings be heeded? There's no sign of them being heard by those who need to listen and respond. Unfortunately it often seems to take extensive civil unrest to remove so called citizens' representatives who have chosen to ignore the function they were elected to perform.
What we currently have is a government undertaking rapid reforms in health, education and social welfare without full communication of these changes to the public, without effective evaluation of the changes or the capacity to reassess and correct quickly when the policy clearly doesn't work. It is not a responsible way to govern a country. No doubt when Mr Key and his colleagues retire from "public service" there will be Knighthoods as usual, just as for Robert (no I won't open the books) Muldoon. How crazy is that?
Unfortunately it often seems to take extensive civil unrest to remove so called citizens' representatives who have chosen to ignore the function they were elected to perform.
Or a friendly insider within the Bowen St Triangle who has the guts to do a Chelsea Manning or Edward Snowden and blow the whistle on the whole house of cards. Leaks are probably the biggest hope we have against what appears to be regulatory capture. I'm only surprised the Public Service Assn isn't more hardline about this.
In the meantime, I've had my own fucking HMO-style experiences with the local DHB. I have a rare tooth condition that requires removal of all my teeth and replacement with dentures, but it turns out the DHB will only part-subsidise the dentures with a Community Services Card. And even if I do qualify, I'll still have to go cap-in-hand to my father to make up the shortfall unless WINZ can somehow cover it.
I've been left with no choice but to take reduced working hours and hence living standards, just for the sake of my teeth. Then again, my work-life balance will be a bit better.
Leaks are probably the biggest hope we have against what appears to be regulatory capture.
We can hope, but there is an obvious climate of fear and with good reason.
I'm sorry to hear about the issue with your teeth. There seem to be all sorts of cost cutting measures in the health system right now. We were told we would have to buy our own masks for use with non-invasive ventilation (breathing support from a machine) and required to sign a form to that effect. As it happens we've so far managed to avoid buying this essential medical equipment on principle. If the health system doesn't cover essential medical supplies the country has real problems.
I may be looking at a similar situation to yours with my own teeth, but I'm putting it off as long as I can. I'm getting on, I may be able to get away with toothlessness :-)
I have read as much as humanly possible from your link to the nzsocialjusticeblog, especially the bits about medical assessments, and the interesting connections with ACC.
Puts me in mind of an article written by Audrey Young way back in 2010.
An interview with Bill English....just hitting his straps as Minister of Finance.
"As examples he cites work being done at Housing New Zealand and specifically at the Ministry of Social Development by the welfare working advisory group looking at the big driver of future costs: long-term invalids and sickness beneficiaries, a group he describes as "this big hard lump of long-term waste of human potential".
He goes on to say, "If they were ACC customers, we would be spending a lot of money on trying to move them. They cost a bit less on sickness and invalids [benefits], not a hell of a lot less, but we do nothing and we are actually doing nothing to reduce this very large long-term liability."
While trying to catch up on my reading, I checked out Sacha's blog and found this gem....The scheme(ACC) also displayed the morality of its founders. Here’s Sir Owen in a 2012 interview:
“The social responsibilities which underpin ACC ought never to be tested by clever equations, or brushed to one side by economic dogma. In the end, they depend on decent fellow feeling and the ideas and ideals that support it.”
Pity Uncle Bill failed to take THAT cue from ACC.
"Puts me in mind of an article written by Audrey Young way back in 2010.
An interview with Bill English….just hitting his straps as Minister of Finance."
Thanks for that link to the Herald article from 2010, Rosemary.
Yes, Bill English is one of the main "planners" of the agenda they now follow. I have more info going back to what National did when in government up to 1999. In the mid 1990s they did already then plan to take similar steps as they have now, regarding work ability assessments and so. But as they were in government with NZ first, only so much could be done then, as Winston and his party kept a brake on some things National wanted to bring in. They later ran a trial for work ability assessments, but it was something they never managed to introduce and implement as nation wide practice, as they lost the election in 1999.
Labour had a slightly different idea about welfare policy, so they applied a more measured and moderate approach, but nevertheless brought in the Principal and Regional Health and Disability Advisors, and that horrible top dog Dr Bratt (likening benefit dependence to "drug dependence").
Once National was back in government, they swiftly made plans to continue with what had been planned in the mid to late 1990s, and more.
Also did Paula Bennett state, that they were looking at using measures that ACC have been using, to get sick and disabled on benefits back into work. As for ACC, we know what happened there, with their "exit strategy" for the more severe and costly cases. A fair few were off-loaded onto benefits, and now they are being harassed by WINZ to look for "suitable" employment.
It is all an "actuarial approach" now, and becomes less humane, the further they progress. I dread what they will do should National get a third term, and should Bennett, English and Key feel emboldened to "save" yet more costs.
We will get even less prospect of getting any info on policy evaluation in that case.
Re this topic, it pays to stay in touch with what is going on in the UK, in Britain, as that is where much of the "reform ideas" we have adopted here in New Zealand are coming from:
It is an evolving issue, or policy area, and there is a lot that needs to be answered and addressed, but I hear and read nothing that MSD are offering to clarify their policy and evaluation of it.
So while we have an election campaign, I would expect that at least some opposition party would raise questions, but so far I am shocked and concerned about the suspicious "silence". Do they have any "idea" about what goes on, I must ask, it seems not, not even the Minister, answering questions on The Nation last weekend, and just repeating the same story all over again, about work being the only solution, and about cost saving measures, none else.
I also hear and see NOBODY in the media challenge and ask MSD about the health and disability aspects of the new "work ability" regime. Are they not up to it, fearing the "legal" challenges, or just totally indifferent and disinterested?
It is not a good look that any of the affected get, left out in the cold.
“” ….it pays to stay in touch with what is going on in the UK, in Britain, as that is where much of the “reform ideas” we have adopted here in New Zealand are coming from:”
The ILF can be compared to our Individualised Funding. For the same reasons, IF is a preferred option for those with high needs who struggle to get the supports they need through a contracted provider. One of the major inhibitors of IF is that even if it is the best option for the disabled person, they are (in theory) prevented from employing a resident family member.
Sorry to bang on about Atkinson and the resultant amendment to the PHDAct….but the thought of this significant factor in the low uptake of IF somewhat rattled the New Zealand Disability Support Network….the government funded organisation that protects the intrests of MOH, ACC, MSD and DHB Contracted Care Providers.
This piece of research appeared on the NZDSN website about the time that we were waiting for the HRRT decision on Atkinson.
“Local authorities are reviewing
their traditional contractual relationship with service
providers and will end some of these relationships. Indeed,
advice from the DoH is that block contracts should be
reduced and short- to mid-term solutions identified where
appropriate, although some commissioning will still be
required because some level of demand for the old model of
service delivery may persist for some time beyond 2011.”
It is my opinion that this research, and the UK experience of ILF, contributed significantly to the NZDSNs public opposition to the Appeal Court decision on Atkinson…and god only knows what pressure this outfit exerted on Government that led to the 17th May 2013 travesty.
I would really like to know how the roll out of ILF affected those contracted providers in the UK…and just how much influence these corporations had on the UK govt. to back track on this scheme.
I thought they were funded by membership fees?
In fact, despite Sandra Waddell stating that the organisation was going to be completely independant of government back in I think 2008*, the NZDSN recieves more in government grants/contracts than it does from its membership subscriptions....
In fact, despite Sandra Waddell stating that the organisation was going to be completely independant of government back in I think 2008*, the NZDSN recieves more in government grants/contracts than it does from its membership subscriptions….
I'm having problems verifying this....the Radio NZ Pod cast I have saved on my hard drive says 2008...but I downloaded it in 2010. I can't seem to find this particular interview between Sandie Waddell and Mike Gourely on the otherwise very complete Radio NZ database. If I perchance have the only copy of this interview...and anyone wants to hear it...you'll need to tell me how to get it from me to thee ...
I'm also losing my touch...the new Charities Services website tells me the NZDSN is not on the register.....thank goodness I managed to download a couple years of NZDSN's financials....
Just a "tiny" hint on corporate advice on welfare reform in the UK, also now applied here, and do not forget the AFOEM, headed by former ATOS staffer, MR Dr David Beaumont, also know by many ACC clients, for "bizarre" reports and assessments:
(see pages 13, 20, 21 and 35, please!)
There is heaps more in the posts published under the links I already provided, and it is all NO coincidence, it is an AGENDA!
An interesting new report by Bill Rosenberg and the CTU, reveals how dishonest the "investment approach" is that the present government is using to address long term welfare dependency and costs.
The government's "investment approach" to welfare reform is very flawed, and seems to be so designed to reduce only the immediate costs for the state, without considering the wider implications, including risks, personal health costs, and more, for those not coping with work or other obligations. There may be long term other costs, but also benefits, that have not been considered. So MSD are rather only looking at their own balance sheet, to get numbers of beneficiaries reduced, no matter what other costs may be created in the longer term.
Here is that interesting paper on this, it proves again, we are presented rather flawed, misguided policies, that only make things look better, but hardly deliver what was promised:
Carmel Sepuloni, Labour's spokeswoman for social development matters put some questions forward on 17 September 2015, to the Associate Minister for Social Development:
She appears to have OIA info that proves that newly started trials are not delivering what was expected. So we are supposed to get an evaluation report late this year. Perhaps that will be on Christmas Eve then, when most people, including the media, will have other matters on their mind. I am ready for surprises.
Upcoming Fabian organised talk reminder
Max Rashbrooke - Why we need to change the way we talk about poverty and inequality
I would like to remind/invite you to the above event which will be held at the WEA Rooms, 59 Gloucester Street, Christchurch, at 7:30pm on Thursday October 8th. This is a NZ Fabian Society event in association with Canterbury WEA.
Max Rashbrooke is the editor of Inequality: A New Zealand Crisis, published in June 2013 by Bridget Williams Books, and the author of 'The Inequality Debate: An Introduction', published in July 2014. He is also a research associate of the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies at Victoria University of Wellington. As a journalist, he has written stories for national newspapers and magazines in Britain and New Zealand, including the Guardian, the National Business Reviewand Metro. He has twice been the recipient of the Bruce Jesson Senior Journalism Award, and is a 2015 Winston Churchill Fellow.
All welcome. If you would like to attend, please register here. Please pass on this invitation to anyone else you think may be interested.
For further information: WEA, Phone 366 0285 Email: email@example.com Web: cwea.org.nz
UPDATE: An EVALUATION REPORT on “recent” social welfare reforms is apparently due LATE this year! This has been said in an answer to a question on Parliament:
On 17 September 2015, in the NZ House of Representatives (Parliament), the Labour opposition spokeswoman on Social Development, Carmel Sepuloni, put a hard question to the Associate Minister for Social Development, asking about the government’s position on the apparently poor outcomes of so-called “trials” in the form of Mental Health Employment Services (MHES) and Sole Parent Employment Services (SPES). She appeared to have already received a response to an Official Information Act (OIA) request from the Ministry, putting into question the effectiveness and success of the new contracted out services.
The Associate Minister Jo Goodhew appeared a bit tense and annoyed, and was reluctant to provide any proper response or any useful data. Pressed for an answer, she then simply said to Carmel Sepuloni, that she would have to wait until late in the year for an “evaluation report”. That report though was supposed to have been presented already, according to earlier indications.
So we continue to be left in the dark, about how many persons that took part in these supposed “wrap around service” delivering programs were actually successfully placed into any suitable, lasting and paid employment.
What should also be of great concern, was that the Associate Minister was actually guilty of misleading the House of Representatives Parliament) when giving her answers. First though, see this video:
You hear and see how Carmel Sepuloni asked about details about the Sole Parent Employment Service and also Mental Health Employment Service, run on a trial basis for over a year now, and where NO real data has been made available about their supposed “success”. She asked for a response to the conflicting, worrying details she appears to have received by way of an OIA request.
As for parts of the answer by Jo Goodhew, Associate Minister, she was misleading the House!
First see her details here, on the glossy Parliament website:
She claims there is no obligation for mental health suffering or sole parents to take part in the employment referral programs that MSD now use through outsourced, contracted service providers. The truth is that “officially” there is no obligation for mental health sufferers on health related benefits to join the MHES, but there is most certainly an obligation for sole parents to participate, as the following shows:
Yes, there is most clearly an OBLIGATION to take part in such measures, that assist a person that receives the Sole Parent Benefit to get employment. See 2. for part time work obligations:
“take part in any other activities that Work and Income refer me to, such as attend any job training courses, seminars, work experience or work assessments (including rehabilitation, but not medical treatment) that will improve my work readiness or help me get work”
So in denying that there is an obligation, implying that it is supposed to be all voluntary is simply untrue, and hence Jo Goodhew misled the members of Parliament, which should be a serious matter. So far nobody appears to have bothered raising this, so we must watch this space.
As for the supposed “voluntary” participation of mental health suffering persons on benefits, they will indeed also face some expectation to participate in measures that assess their work capability and that may assist in getting them “prepared” for taking on employment. This has already been covered in other posts on this blog, and such requirements are stated in the Social Security Act.
According to the Associate Minister an “evaluation” of MHES and SPES will be due later in 2015. As the government has a habit to publish bad reports late on Fridays, or just before long weekends, I presume that such an evaluation report will be presented just before Christmas, so that the media and the public will not pay much attention to it, because then they will have other (important) things on their minds.
As for some independently sought data on job placements for such "trials", a complaint is now before the Office of Ombudsmen, still very slow at being progressed, as I have been advised. Clearly MSD did not provide all the information sought in response to a separate OIA request, and the Ombudsman will have to ask the Ministry (yet again), why they did not provide the specified information that should already be readily available now.
Having just obtained a copy of an OIA response from MSD, through a trusted source, it appears the evaluation of the Mental Health Employment Services and Sole Parent Employment Services is not going to be completed before June 2016. That is after Jo Goodhew told Carmel Sepuloni in reply to question 8 (during question time) on 17 Sept. 2015 that a mid point evaluation was to be completed by the end of this year:
Quote: “A full mid-point evaluation is still being undertaken and is due to be completed by the end of this year.”
But an OIA received by an associate of mine, and entrusted with me, suggests it will not be made public before mid next years. The OIA response also reveals that the trials the government has so far been running for those new contracted services (paying high fees to providers for successful referrals) are anything but successful.
If the figures stated in the response are anything to go by, the actual referrals into lasting jobs or longer term employment are rather small, and there is little in the way of information about how many of all the job placements actually lead to permanent employment for the target groups.
As for much other very interesting information, some has again been withheld for partly very questionable reasons, and other information has not been provided at all. See the high lit version of the scan copy of the response from MSD from 19 Nov. 2015.
The questions that were actually put to MSD on 08 July 2015 are listed in the PDF files listed below the OIA response (see above).
In all honesty, I do not believe some of the answers given to the various questions! Some do not seem credible to me, but check it out for yourselves. This is stuff the MSM do not bother presenting to the public.
More will be published soon via the small blog 'nzsocialjusticeblog2013'.
Here is a “clean” copy of the above mentioned OIA response from MSD (from 19.11.15), giving answers to questions about benefit components, the once appointed Health and Disability Panel, external and internal Advisors - and reports by them, about trials in the form of mental health employment services, sole parent employment services, MAB hearings data and some sundry information (some not supplied, some without giving any explanations).
A new post is available with the above mentioned new OIA info:
It is likely to be edited a bit more, to add more links and relevant info.
Maybe the government just hates releasing information, and uses all legal and possibly not so legal means to do so? Frank Macskasy wrote an interesting post on the OIA frustrations he has experienced, but it seems others had much worse experiences:
I think we are denied the truth at a huge scale.
Maybe the government just hates releasing information
Yes, they do, hence so much gets either swept under the carpet, denied it ever existed, or is just plainly "wrong", no matter what.
AND how much is this for “fall out”, that the MSM have NO knowledge about?
Heaps more seems to be there, but no one in government seems to care, as the MSM chooses to focus on trivial stuff, and not do their job, which must be, because their masters own them, and do not want to “rock the boat”, which is a “safe hand” government under our esteemed leader John (Not the Baptist) Key.
A government of compulsive liars, that is my conclusion.
Just remembering, on 17 Sept. 2015 Labour’s Spokeswoman on Social Development, Carmel Sepuloni, asked the following question 8 in Parliament, during Question Time:
It was answered by Jo Goodhew, Associate Minister for Social Development, who did in part misinform the House, claiming all these new outsourced, contracted trials to get mentally ill and sole parents off benefits and into work, were totally “voluntary”.
While this is claimed to be so for those accepting to go onto the ‘Mental Health Employment Service’ trial (which is again not quite the case), it is certainly not true for those asked to look for work as sole parents, expected to go onto the ‘Sole Parent Employment Service’.
And did Ms Goodhew not tell Carmel, she should be “patient” until the end of year, as then some evaluation information on these trials would be available?
Since we are two days away from Christmas, and since most government employees at MSD will most likely be heading into their annual leave holidays, I wonder, oh, I wonder, where this information is then? Or is it now due to come out on New Years Eve, perhaps?
John Key has left for Hawaii, after another “stunning” radio performance, so he wont front, I suspect most other Ministers are starting their holidays and won’t answer any questions, what about the CE of MSD, or is he also on leave already?
Again, we are left with NO answers, no information, it seems, and thanks for all that “transparency” we get, also thanks to an Ombudsman, that is the former Chief one, Ms Wakem, who has quietly vanished into her retirement.
Obfuscation is the an art this government has mastered at expert level, it seems, and we have no watchdog or even opposition speakers, who bother chasing stuff up, yet again. And the media are struggling to “report” on important things, while more and more journalists lose their jobs. Perhaps we will though get a follow up story on this in the new year 2016?
Instead we get stories like this, galore:
Re my last comment(s), see above:
It has been established, Jo Goodhew, Associate Minister of Social Development, lied and misled the House of Representatives, we got NO evaluation information at all “later in the year” (2015)!
And in the meantime, away from public attention, yet updated regularly on the Ministry of Health website, they are step by step bringing in SOCIAL IMPACT BONDS:
I wonder what our dear Leader John (Not the Baptist) Key will have to announce early this year, in his speech to address the nation? Last year we got much hype on the privatisation of housing, and so far little progress has been made. But it seems they continue to push that one also:
"Carmel Sepuloni, Labour's spokeswoman for social development matters put some questions forward on 17 September 2015, to the Associate Minister for Social Development:
She appears to have OIA info that proves that newly started trials are not delivering what was expected."
Some evaluation info was promised by the government late last year, but there was none presented.
I ask, do we have an effective opposition, or has Carmel Sepuloni simply forgotten about what she asked for?
It does not look good, I feel, the government gets away with so much, and nobody bothers raising issues with this.
And the justice system is taking its time on hearing the case about the Ashburton WINZ Office shootings. The accused has been locked up for a year and a half and the trial is just planned to be heard from Tuesday 23 February, it seems. Who knows what will come up during that, it may shine light on how WINZ now works with clients that have health issues.