Nasty Nats bash beneficiaries!

John Key has announced National party ‘Social Services’ policy, and unsurprisingly, given it was announced to the most unthinking, bigotted bunch of cranks you can find – the RSA, it is a ‘bash the beneficiary’ policy. Blithering pensioners ranted on about ‘giving beneficiaries respect’ and ‘making them feel good about themselves’, despite it mostly being a policy that lets WINZ staff cut benefits if you don’t get enough work once your kids hit 6 years old.

National party activist David Farrar (on his blog and National Radio this afternoon) nicely summarised the policy, as:

  • Paid work is the best way to reduce child poverty
  • A part-time work obligation on DPB recipients whose youngest child is six or older
  • A part-time work obligation on those (5,600) sickness and invalids beneficiaries who have been assessed as capable of working part-time
  • No work for the dole
  • Any long-term unemployed (one year or more) will have to reapply for the benefit and undergo a comprehensive work assessment
  • Case Managers to be given more options rather than just stopping benefit payments, such as a graduated reduction as an interim sanction
  • Increase in the earnings threshold before abatement from $80 a week to $100 a week
  • Anyone on the sickness benefit for more than a year will be sent to a designated doctor for an assessment
  • CPI adjustments to benefits to be enshrined in law (as it is for Super) rather than merely being convention
  • Those who frequently need benefit advances to attend (at taxpayer expense) a budget advisory service to help them manage
  • In my view, there are two positive points – increasing the abatement threshold from $80 to $100, and inflation (CPI) adjusting benefits in law – with one neutral point – budget advice (depending on how it is handled) – and the rest are 6 negative points (I ignore the claimed ‘no work for dole’ as it is contradicted by the following point, where unemployed have to reapply and get assessed – these are the first steps to work for dole). So an overall fail mark.

    Naturally, the Greens are baffled, Labour must be gleeful at their main opponents blundering like this and swiftly pointed out the old Nats ‘dob in a bludger’ campaign, and the other minor parties will struggle to find time to even comment (please media – don’t ask Peter Dunne what he thinks; if he had any policy he would have told you already).

    In my view, yes, there are people who are content to live on benefits when they could get ‘some’ paid work, but that is a very badly paid life that would not be very pleasant to live. The real focus should be on helping people into well-paid work (not just minimum wage) that fits in with their family commitments. And forcing invalids to work 15 hours a week or get their benefit cut is just obscene.

    The truly interesting question has been ignored by all parties of course – given beneficiary numbers have dropped substantially over the economic boom in Labour’s 9 years as government, why haven’t WINZ staff been better able to give individual attention to the smaller numbers on the benefit?

    I know of at least one person on the dole who used to work until an accident, but when his health returned, the WINZ staff stupidly tried getting him into computing courses. Given his very evident low academic potential, they should have been helping him into a supervised labouring job, but….? Over ten years later, no change in circumstances. The beneficiary should not be blamed if the government (both Nat and Labour for this guy) have not helped him into work.  But better for him to be on a benefit than have the Nats cut his benefit because he hadn’t fixed things, when he is clearly not capable of doing so.

    Better policy needed National – by far!!!

    One good option would be for the state to offer guaranteed full-time work (at the $12 an hour minimum wage or higher) for anyone who wants it – beneficiaries or others. This allows beneficiaries to choose to step up if they want and are capable, while still providing benefits for those unable to work in these tasks (say DoC tree planting, etc). The obvious danger though, is that people will view those still on the (lower paid) benefits as ‘undeserving’, and demand the benefits get eliminated, in which case the guaranteed work opportunity becomes ‘work for the dole’ (though at least at minimum wage – a big boost from current benefit levels).

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    7 Responses to “Nasty Nats bash beneficiaries!”

    1. serge Says:

      Hoorray, at last some checks and balances, good on you National!

    2. squaredrive Says:

      @ Serge
      What are the ‘checks and balances’ National are bringing in? There seem to be only 3 tht are not already in place:

      Forcing beneficiaries to reapply after a year – which does what? They already have to ‘check in’ regularly, so surely at these appointments their case manager asks them if they have got work? And if they lie, the 1 year reapply won’t catch them out…
      Forcing sickness & invalid beneficiaries to go to a WINZ doctor, who are notorious for pushing still sick people back to work. Not really a check so much as bullying. A panel of doctors picked by the local DHB would be better – independent assessment.
      Mandatory budget advice for those need advances regularly – but how will this help if their income just isn’t enough to live on? Will National promise to top up benefit levels if their advisers can’t find any savings in the beneficiaries budget? Yeh, right!

      Making people work 15+ hours a week is not a ‘check and balance’, it’s just forcing people to work. It doesn’t tell you if they are capable of working (if on sickness or invalid benefit). And what if they can’t find work in their area? Will National make them travel 1hr plus to get work in school hours?

      This National benefit policy is half-baked, and a transition to work for the dole. What are your thoughts on my suggested guaranteed work option?

    3. Ira Says:

      Some on the invalids/sickness benefit will die during this 15hr worthless work, If those national nazis hurt ONE of these vulnerable people, they will have the hounds of hell after them, To hell with sodding national,we had enough of their lowlife policies in the 1990s.

      Cowardly SCUM!! shame on you nats picking on the weak easy targets!

    4. End of rope Says:

      I would like to tell you my story and would appreciate hearing from anyone in the same circumstances.

      I have suffered from the debilitating illness, ME or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as it is now called, of since 1982 but was only diagnosed with this illness in 2000.(coupled with this is a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia).

      In those years befor diagnosis I went from doctor to doctor,but none could explain these bizarre symptoms I was experiencing after becoming ill and being told I had a “virus” ….Some doctors told me I was depressed and needed medication, one actually told me i was imagining the whole thing, I went from being a very active happy outgoing energetic person, to someone who could hardly move, had no energy, no stamina and no end of detrimental changes to my health and wellbeing and was very frustrated with the lack of understanding at that time.

      Fortunately I finally found a doctor who recognised that as all else had been ruled out with tests showing normal, his diagnosis was ME or Tapanui Flu as it was known then. By this time I had been on a sickness benefit for some time after the breakup of my marriage and numerous failed attempts to return to work.

      Winz sent me to designated doctor who confirmed that, yes, ME was the problem and I was not fit to work so I was put on Invalid Benefit.
      Some years later I met and married a foreigner and left NZ for approx a year to live in his country, cancelling my benefit before doing so.
      However circumstances led to me having to return to NZ and my husband applied for a work permit so he could stay here till residency was approved. What little money we had was soon swallowed up in day to day expenses. As he had no work for some time I reapplied for my IB in 2007 to which I was still entitled to, was sent to a WINZ designated doctor who signed the medical form, (after checking the medical reports from my previous doctor in NZ, ) clearly stating that I was unfit for work at all and was not needing reassessment until 2012. Winz granted my benefit again…as a single person as my non resident husband is not entitled to any help.
      He found a job after a while and I stopped my benefit, because of where the job was located we had to move a considerable distance, from North Island to the South, but he was guaranteed fulltime permanent work so we were very pleased with that.
      Unfortunately his workplace found that they could not keep him on due to their financial circumstances so he was given notice after only a few months work.
      I tried going back to work but did not have the stamina to do so due to my health and had to leave after only 5 weeks of p/t work.
      I re applied to Winz for my benefit 4 months after cancelling it, and duly went to a local practioner with forms to be filled in, a foreign doctor who I may add I had never been to before, only registered with, and in my stressed state I did not notice she had ticked sickness benefit not Invalid benefit so my application for Invalids benefit was declined..I then went back to doctor who apparently had not read my file from previous doctor where it clearly states I have CFS/Fibromyalgia. The doctor recognised the mistake and filled out the form for Invalids Benefit correctly and I took it back to WINZ but it was declined again this time saying I had not been to designated doctor the year before. I also had a copy of my medical reports from my previous doctor but WINZ again chose to ignore them.
      My case is in the hands of a beneficiaries advocate, he asked to see my files and there was the report from the designated doctor of 2007, still I was refused my rightful benefit. One reason I was given was that I had gone back to work and so was not entitled to the Invalids benefit anymore, I worked 9 hours only a week and found I couldn’t even cope with that. The other reason being was that I had cancelled my IB previously, however the reason for cancelling was not due to any change in my health, I cancelled the benefit because we are honest and told WINZ my husband had found work at that time. He has applied for many jobs in the meantime but has not been successful.
      My advocate has now placed my case in the hands of the legal advisor in Wellington and I am awaiting the outcome, In the meantime I have lost approx $80 weekly through being denied my rightful benefit and have approx $70 weekly to buy food, keep our old car running and to pay our bills after the rent is paid, total benefit being $292 weekly which include disability allowance of $10 weekly, accommodation supplement of $55 and Temporary assistance of $55 weekly. the rent is $185 weekly. We do not have a lot of debt, just the normal things but cannot go on like this. When I saw a case manager and told him I could not live on this amount of money, he told me “he had many clients living on less and they managed very well through careful budgeting” Budgeting? what is there to budget? I am in my 60’s, brought up 4 children mostly single handedly and I certainly know how to be frugal. The problem is there is not enough money to budget with and this is a totally unreasonable amount to expect anyone to live on..I am hoping that the legal advisor will rectify the mistakes of this WINZ office , however now I see the National parties policy I fear the worst, even though a WINZ designated doctor has stated in the medical report 2007 that I cannot work and do not need to be reassessed until 2012. The doctors medical report appears to carry no weight with this particular branch of WINZ.
      I must say that I have never experienced any problems from any other WINZ office regarding my entitlement to Invalid Benefit.

    5. Moolah Says:

      Where does that fat freak farrar get off?, just wait till the prick gets diabetes if he hasnt already, he wont be such an advocate of the bullshit national party and their extreme policies.

      National will wreck this country as they did in the 1990s,,just wait u will see!.

      Another thing you national biggots, we sick people will bring you down, and fast!

    6. squaredrive Says:

      @ Moolah – Although he is a National party activist, I don’t think David Farrar actually wrote the National party policy on social welfare. I just quoted from his post on the topic above, as he summarised concisely what the Nats want to do. I don’t think its helpful wishing evil on him.

      It is a shame that more careful scrutiny was not given to National’s welfare policies (in fact, attention to any major policies from Nats & Labour) by the media in the lead-up to the election. Which is why we blog, I guess…

    7. Moolah Says:

      I dont wish evil on him,just saying he would not be an advocate of the filthy nats if he was sick or injured.

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