Home > Social Issues, The Body Politic > The REAL reason for the drop in welfare numbers

The REAL reason for the drop in welfare numbers

There is an underlying reason for this headline,

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Number on benefits drops, reaction mixed - 16.7.2013

Source

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In the above July 2013 article, Social welfare Minister, Paula Bennett proudly asserted,

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said today there are now 309,782 people on a benefit compared with 320,041 last year.

[…]

That’s a reduction of more than 10,000 on welfare over the past 12 months and I am particularly pleased that 5600 of them are sole parents.”

IBID

Nowhere in the article does it state where those 10,000 welfare beneficiaries ended up.

Was it in paid work?

Did they go back into full-time education or other courses?

Or were they simply dumped from WINZ’s books?  Like the recipient of these letters that were recently provided to me? (We will call him/her “Citizen X” – all identifying details have been redacted to respect his/her privacy and protect him/her from possible reprisals by Bennett, her office, or MSD official. Same for the WINZ officials whose names appear on the letters.)

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WINZ letter dec 2013 (1)WINZ letter dec 2013 (2)

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A few days later, “Citizen X” received this letter. Adding insult to injury, they were demanding that an outstanding amount (an amount between $200 to $300) be repaid;

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WINZ letter dec 2013 (3)

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This was despite that “Citizen X” had had her/his unemployment benefit cancelled – not because s/he had found paid employment (s/he hadn’t) – but because s/he had fallen foul of National’s harsh new welfare laws.

In part, the MSD website states,

On Jobseeker Support for more than 12 months

If you still require Jobseeker Support after 52 weeks you’ll have to re-apply for your benefit. We’ll let you know when you have to re-apply and tell you what you need to do.

When you re-apply, you’ll also need to complete a Comprehensive Work Assessment. This will identify what steps you’ve taken to find work and what help you might need from us to be more successful in getting a job.

Source

In effect, National has placed a one year time limit on all unemployment benefits. They haven’t advertised it as such – they refer to it as “re-applying”.

As Simon Collins reported in the NZ Herald back in January (2013),

The Council of Christian Social Services pointed yesterday to “a growing gap between those who receive a benefit and those in genuine need who are either losing or unable to obtain social welfare assistance”.

Unemployment increased in the two years to last September from 144,500 to 170,000, but those on unemployment benefit dropped by almost a quarter from 65,281 to 50,390.

Sole parents on the domestic purposes benefit have also dropped in the past year. Rules for both benefits were tightened in September 2010, when unemployment beneficiaries had their benefits cancelled if they failed to reapply after a year.

Sole parents were required to look for part-time work when their youngest child turned 6, an age reduced to 5 last October.

Christian Social Services executive officer Trevor McGlinchey said his members were reporting increases in demand for their services as people found benefits harder to get.

[…]

Ironically, the tighter welfare rules may also partly explain the rise in unemployment, as beneficiaries are counted as unemployed only if they are actively looking for work. Employment slipped only slightly from 63.6 per cent to 63.2 per cent of adults in the two years to last September, but the “jobless” rose from 7.1 per cent to 8.4 per cent because those not looking for work fell from 29.3 per cent to a record low of 28.4 per cent.

Source

What this  means is that eventually a significant number of people simply give up re-applying for the minimal amount that the dole pays ($206.21 per week).

Constant, repetitive, incessant demands for information and a less than helpful attitude created by MSD policy create an atmosphere of naked hostility.

The complexity of applying, with the multitude of 73 pages of WINZ  forms and other bits of paper, may also prove to be a dis-incentive for many – especially those for whom English, reading ability, and general low education is a real problem.

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73 pages of WINZ forms

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The massive number of WINZ forms and other documents handed out to applicants has been covered in this previous blogpost; WINZ, waste, and wonky numbers

These are some of the bureacratic barriers which National and MSD have created for the most vulnerable and dispossessed people in our country.

All done to “massage” beneficiary statistics.

As Bennett said, back in July,

That’s a reduction of more than 10,000 on welfare over the past 12 months and I am particularly pleased that 5600 of them are sole parents.”

No doubt, National will use this “success” at the next election and a sizeable portion of the voting population will be sufficiently uninformed and  gullible enough to accept this without question.

It will be up to those who oppose National and it’s virulent brand of right-wing politics to spread the truth; under this party, poverty and inequality will continue to worsen.

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Hungry kids scavenge pig slops

Source

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Because even the Prime Minister has had to reluctantly concede the enormity of what we are facing,

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Key admits underclass still growing

Source

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Pushing people off welfare, regardless of whether or not they have jobs to go to, just to massage welfare statistics, is a vile obscenity.

This will not “lift people out of poverty”, as Key has promised.

It is increasing poverty.

How long will it be before this growing poverty, sense of hopelessness, and constant attacks by National and MSD results in the inevitable outbreak of violent civil disturbance? Desperate people tend not to care – especially for the empty promises of well-fed, well-housed, comfortable politicians.

Is this really what New Zealanders want for their country?

The clock is ticking…

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clock.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 15 December 2013.

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*

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Sources

NZ Herald: Welfare rules force people to struggle on without benefits

Fairfax media:  Number on benefits drops, reaction mixed

Fairfax media: Hungry kids scavenge pig slops

NZ Herald: Key admits underclass still growing

References

Work and Income:  Jobseeker Support

Additional

Gordon Campbell: Ten Myths About Welfare -The politics behind the government’s welfare reform process

Previous related blogposts

Class act, National – taking money of widows?!

How Paula Bennett and National are wasting our taxdollars

National ramps up attack on unemployed and solo-mums

Random Thoughts on Random Things #4…

OIA Request points to beneficiary beat-up by Minister Chester Borrows

The REAL level of unemployment

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= fs =

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  1. Deb Kean
    22 December 2013 at 5:45 pm

    I completed my ‘re-application’, not without incident – I had to go to my bank and get a statement printed, to show exactly how much I had in my savings account – apparently the call centre woman ought to have told me to bring a bank statement when I booked my appointment . That she hadn’t somehow became my fault…
    When I phoned I said I couldn’t do it on-line and the call centre woman accepted that easily (I had expected an argument) but I am sure that most beneficiaries can’t – and yet I am sure many would have tried to – thinking they had no choice. (I didn’t want to try, as their website often wigs out)
    Deb

    • 22 December 2013 at 9:29 pm

      I’ve heard from others, Debs, that the WINZ website times-out before a complex re-application form can be completed. Not good.

  2. Jo
    22 December 2013 at 8:09 pm

    What’s wrong with re-applying for a benefit? You have to prove you’re actively looking for work. Linking the reapplication to ppverty is drawing a huge longbow.

    • 22 December 2013 at 9:25 pm

      Question for you, Jo. Have you ever been on a benefit?

      • Jo
        22 December 2013 at 9:33 pm

        Yes,
        Then I got a job.
        Now I don’t qualify because apparantly my husband earns too much and I am unable to have children. I get no help from the benefit system.
        Why does that matter?

        • 22 December 2013 at 11:09 pm

          It does indeed matter, Jo.

          If you’ve been on welfare as you claim, then you would know that one of the many forms given to unemployed/job seekers is a Work Diary page. It is required to be filled out, listing each approach made for a job application.

          Said form has to be completed and handed back to the beneficiaries Case Manager, upon request.

          The Work Diary is the means by which WINZ determines what efforts an unemployed person has made to find work.

          Reapplying for an unemployment benefit doesn’t prove you’ve been looking for work at all. It’s simply another form to fill out (20 pages); plus an appointment; plus more documentation to provide; plus additional costs.

          All that is paid for by us,. the taxpayer, and simply ties up WINZ case workers on a pointless exercise.

          It doesn’t achieve any practical end result in helping a welfare recipient find a job.

          • Jo
            23 December 2013 at 2:38 pm

            It may be a tool that assists the case manager to assist the person into a job. Obviously they’ve been looking and applying for a year there is some sort of problem. This is the time that any barriers could be addressed. For example I had someone from WINZ redo my CV and I’ve had a lot more doors opening. I’m temping currently through to March/April then ‘m back looking. I’ve applied for over 200-300 jobs in the last two years and I don’t get paid to look.

            I don’t see a problem with either a work diary (whih I personally keep my saving the emails I send and the rare response I get) and then a full check every year. It is supposed to be a temporary benefit not a lifetime benfit.

            • 23 December 2013 at 2:56 pm

              “Obviously they’ve been looking and applying for a year there is some sort of problem. ”

              Yes, not enough jobs.

              “This is the time that any barriers could be addressed. “

              Nope. Doesn’t happen.

              Re-applying for the benefit doesn’t address that, regardless of your misconceptions.

              The Work Diary and regular contact with Case Managers is the means to discuss ongoing problems such as re-writing CVs.

              I’ve attended these re-applications as a support person and the focus is not on jobs. The focus is on bureacratic procedure.

              “It is supposed to be a temporary benefit not a lifetime benfit.”

              You’re implying that it is? Please don’t. I’ve heard that cliche so many times from idiots who parrot it, but can’t back it up with facts. It suggests that the person making those foolish statements doesn’t understand the causal-link between unemployment and economic activity.

              I’m assuming you do.

              • Jo
                23 December 2013 at 3:29 pm

                Did you not note I applied for 200/300 jobs. They are out there. That was only in one narrow field (call centres). I understand the link but we’re coming out of the recession and we weren’t hit as badly as other places.

                We are now in a third generation who see benefits as a right, not a helping hand into work This is the attitude that needs to change IMHO. The benefit was set up to help people unable to work, not those who choose not to work. I have to be at work at 8 every morning, one day a year to reapply should be a minimum.

                Ler’s justb agree to disagree neither of us is going to shift.

            • Theodore
              23 December 2013 at 3:32 pm

              @ Jo – “”It may be a tool that assists the case manager to assist the person into a job. “”

              Jo, I get the impression you haven’t got half a clue what you’re talking about. Frank explained what the Work Diary is designed for, so no “maybe’s” about it.

              I’ve attended one of these re-applications to support a friend of mine and it was nothing to do with getting a job. You just keep thinking that girl and keep deluding yourself. It’s blind National voters like you that refuse to see how this government has no policies to create jobs and is only demonising the unemployed to make it look like it’s their fault.

              Seriously? You need to start thinking things through.

              • Jo
                23 December 2013 at 3:41 pm

                @T Theodore
                I am entitled to my opinion. Wat makes tou thik I am a National voter? I vote with my head if Labour or the Greens had any coherent policy I might vote for them. At the moment I shudder at the mere prospect of that combination. Then again I shudder just as mush at National and Colin Craig. And don’t parrot the asset sales propaganda ar me. My standard answer is “Go bacl to scholl and learn what 49% is.”

            • Deb Kean
              23 December 2013 at 3:59 pm

              Jo, I have never been ‘assisted into a job’, no matter that I have begged to be! I think they simply have given up on me because I am ‘too old’. I’ve been doing casual work for the whole 6 years of my unemployment but have found all of it myself. All I get from WINZ are snarky questions as to ‘what’s wrong with me’ (yes, those words were used) that I can’t get a full time job! It’s not for want of trying, 600-750 applications every year for 6 years. For the 350 applications this year, all I have to show is 6 weeks of work at 4 different places, 12 interviews the whole year and a rate of about 10% of acknowledgement of my applications.

              • Jo
                24 December 2013 at 2:37 pm

                @ Deb
                Me too. Temp work for two or three years. Well actually the last year prior to that I didn;t have anything. Difference is I don’t qualify for a benefit. At 43 I think my age is seena s a barrieer. There Loss.

                • Deb Kean
                  24 December 2013 at 3:25 pm

                  Jo – poor you! I would love to be in your position. My work is not ‘temp’ which would be acceptable, but casual and amounted to 45 days out of 360! Six weeks work in a year, and i haven’t got a husband to support me, I have to support myself on $206 a week. Also, I am 17 years older than you. I would like to say you have my sympathy, but you don’t.
                  Deb

        • 22 December 2013 at 11:18 pm
  3. Theodore
    23 December 2013 at 4:48 pm

    @ Jo “I am entitled to my opinion. ”

    I didn’t say you weren’t. So am I. And in my opinion you’re talking ignorant rubbish.

    “Wat makes tou thik I am a National voter? ”

    Oh god do you really want me to answer that?

    “Go bacl to scholl and learn what 49% is.”

    *facepalm*

    Jo, you wrote above that you “applied for 200/300 jobs” “in the last two years”. Then you said that “They are out there”. I assume by “they” that you mean jobs?

    If all those jobs are “out there”, why did it take you TWO YEARS to get one? Was life that easy for you on the dole??? And if you think that’s harsh, mate, it’s no worse that your snarky little throwaway comment that “the benefit was set up to help people unable to work, not those who CHOOSE NOT TO WORK” (my emphasis). Seems to me that you’ve learned very little humility while you were on the dole.

    You should vote National because you sound like one of those uninformed Tory gits who have an easy life and no appreciation of how things are.

  4. 23 December 2013 at 9:57 pm

    “Did you not note I applied for 200/300 jobs. They are out there. “

    So are 164,000+ unemployed. Or are you telling us that they all chose to be unemployed and the Global Financial Crisis had nothing to do with the economic downturn and resulting loss of jobs?

    “That was only in one narrow field (call centres). I understand the link but we’re coming out of the recession and we weren’t hit as badly as other places.”

    Count yourself lucky you got a job at all, Jo. It took you two years, as you admitted. So there can’t be that many out there – or else you would have found employment much sooner. After all, for every job vacancy, probably 50+ people applied for the same role; https://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/employment-unemployment-fact-sheet-1-queues-for-vacancies/

    By the way, 300 job applications amounts to about three job applications a week over 104 weeks. WINZ would have demanded to know what you were doing the rest of your time.

    “We are now in a third generation who see benefits as a right, not a helping hand into work “

    WTF?!?! Please provide some stats, source, or reference for that assertion! Are you seriously suggesting that everyone who lost their job post-2008 was suddenly “a third generation who see benefits as a right”?!

    “This is the attitude that needs to change IMHO. The benefit was set up to help people unable to work, not those who choose not to work. “

    How do you know that the people who’ve recently been made redundant from Summit Wool Spinners (192 redundancies); Mainzeal (200 redundancies); Contact Energy (100+ redundancies); Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (135 redundancies); Presbyterian Support Otago (460 redundancies); Independent Fisheries (200 redundancies); NZ Post (1,000 est. redundancies) “choose not to work”?! (see blogpost: https://fmacskasy.wordpress.com/2013/12/23/2013-ongoing-jobless-talley/)

    That is an astounding declaration of ignorance, Jo.

    How would you have felt if, after one year of being unemployed, someone threw that in your face? Yes, attitudes need to change. But more like yours.

  5. Jo
    24 December 2013 at 3:52 pm

    I didn’t get a job for two years because I had a rotton job history and no referees. This was mainly due to sickness ( 2or 3 serious medical issues) and I was still NOT eligible for ANY assistance. It was not a lack of jobs.
    @ Deb I’m not looking for sympathy. I was actually agreeing with you.
    @ Frank that was 200/300 job apps in six months I wasn’t counting the ones I applied form prior to geting some work in June 2013.
    Nope those who lost jobs are not in the past few years are not in that category but there are stll families where going on the dole is the first thing they do. Having worked at StudytLink and the ignorant stuff I hear from some parents that their kids would be better off on the dole than studying is disheartening. Not that I agreee at all with the rules around Student Allowance.
    @Theodore I don’t get the dole, In my years of voting I have voted Green, McGillicuddy Serious and National (I don’t trust Labour I was a student between 1988-1991). I am not tied to any party. There are some places where if you put a dog in with either red or blue they’d still get voted in. I study policies of all parties and then decide. I vote for Peter Dunne as my local MP because he is am outstanding advocate fot my electorate. I’d never vote for his party.

    I love the way you all deal with an opposing view, It makes me LOL.

  6. 24 December 2013 at 4:14 pm

    Jo,

    RYCT:

    “@ Frank that was 200/300 job apps in six months “

    That contradicts your earlier statement posted at 23 December 2013 at 2:38 pm (#7)

    “I’ve applied for over 200-300 jobs in the last two years and I don’t get paid to look.”

    I still take exception to this assertion from you,

    “Nope those who lost jobs are not in the past few years are not in that category but there are stll families where going on the dole is the first thing they do. “

    Really? How many “families”? Who are they? Where do they live? What hard data can you give us? Sorry, but stereotypes you’ve heard and are simply parroting ad nauseum doesn’t count for much.

    “I love the way you all deal with an opposing view…”

    Not quite sure what you mean by that. You’ve been allowed to express your views. Were you expecting agreement and no alternative views? Freedom of speech cuts both ways, Jo.

  7. Jo
    24 December 2013 at 4:31 pm

    Don’t have hard numbers but not parroting. Experience of working in StudyLink Sydent says “I need the UBSH (unemployment student raedship back then) my quetion :Have you signed up with student jobsearch and/ or looking for a job?” Student “No.” Common discussion. I can’t see nons-tudents doing any better. Just a few that rot the barrel.

    I like the discussion. It’s fun to play devils advocate

    BTW try working at MSD then come back to me and tall me how rotton they are. They are people too.

  8. Theodore
    25 December 2013 at 12:11 pm

    I’m glad you find it “fun”, Jo. I’m sure the 160,000 unemployed are highly amused as well.

    • Jo
      17 February 2014 at 7:41 pm

      I was one of the unemployed not eligible for a benefit. I have to have a sense of humour or end up as medicated as I have been prevously.

  9. de
    11 July 2015 at 10:46 am

    You say that the maximum jobseekers benefit was $206.21 in 2013? Well in 2014 and now in 2015 the maximum you can get for the jobseekers benefit is $174.60 but they cut $15 out of that to pay any debt back you owe them such as food grants and so on I have not seen the full $174.60 in my bank account since I have been on this plus if you need to have added on cost say for help with doctors fees, prescriptions, councelling groups that you “have” to attend you have to reapply on another form have everyone that you need to sign it all to just get a maximum of $61.90 now in my personal case my councelling alone cost $60 which leaves me $1.90 to pay for doctors fees, prescriptions, and personal health transport now if you need help paying for the things that the disability allowance should have covered in the first place you then need to apply for additonal costs and guess what you have to go through this process every 2 and a half months. Isnt that just so easy and doesnt it make life so much easier no wonder why our country is getting worse.

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