Welfare fraud policy

November 15th, 2011 at 3:15 pm by David Farrar

has announced:

Under National, there will also be a stronger, more proactive stance against those who abuse and defraud the system. Jobseekers whose recreational drug use affects their ability to apply for or secure a job will also be sanctioned, and through the investment approach those with drug addictions will be supported to overcome their illness. In addition, benefit recipients on the run from the Police will have their benefit cancelled.

I think many will be surprised that this wasn’t already the case in terms of those running from the Police.

And a vast proportion of people on the sickness benefit are drug addicts. The welfare state should not be there to allow someone to remain a non work capable drug addict for years or decades. They should be treated and if they won’t take treatment, be sanctioned.

“This year alone, Work and Income’s data matching found around six to 12 per cent of people were receiving benefit payments they weren’t entitled to.

That’s a huge percentage. Of course not all of this may be due to fraud. Some may be accidental, but I would hope everyone would agree that figure should be around 1% or less.

And from the policy:

There are 25,000 people currently receiving a benefit who have committed benefit fraud in the past, or who have received substantial overpayments they were not entitled to, after abusing the welfare system.

I bet you Labour say it is a miniscule problem, not worth worrying about.

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66 Responses to “Welfare fraud policy”

  1. wreck1080 (3,923 comments) says:

    but what about the kiddies?

    Handwringers will come out of the woodwork on this one.

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  2. thedavincimode (6,800 comments) says:

    quardle oodle ardle ….

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  3. Elaycee (4,393 comments) says:

    Fan-bloody-tastic.

    But as thedavincimode notes, this news will probably induce a meltdown at Chez Magpie.

    Oh the humanity… :P

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  4. Manolo (13,837 comments) says:

    Any welfare policy should aim at reducing the number of bludgers and punishing those who abuse the system. About time.

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  5. swan (665 comments) says:

    “Jobseekers whose recreational drug use affects their ability to apply for or secure a job will also be sanctioned”

    Reason No. 392 why marajuana legilisation is a good idea. Oh well ignore that possibility.

    Otherwise sounds good.

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  6. RRM (9,933 comments) says:

    And a vast proportion of people on the sickness benefit are drug addicts.

    It’s lucky Phil U in his brief re-appearance here, has already got himself banned again until March 2012.

    Cause otherwise OH MAN we’d be hearing from him on this thread.

    …….eh?…………….

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  7. Muzza M (291 comments) says:

    Thus is fucking laughable. I have dished out methadone to people for 25 years. About 95% of them have been on benefits for that length of time. They seem to be untouchable where personal responsibilty is concerned. Well and truly abled by their “councellors”. If you want to rehabilitate them, make sure they have suitably able people to make this happen. Most of the A&D staff I ever met were Doctors and Nurses who couldn’t make it in the real world.

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  8. Viking2 (11,488 comments) says:

    Ahem, longtime coming but,will the person who occasionally has a toke lose their benefit when the elite can toke all they like and still go to work because they have “qualified” by being in work.

    So so long as you work smoking dope is ok as long as your boss joins you but its not ok if the Govt. pays you a benefit.
    so the unemployed sell more dope and do more stealing to replace the benefit.

    The idea is fine, the execution of the idea remians obscure.

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  9. decanker (184 comments) says:

    Does beer count as recreational drug use?

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  10. tvb (4,430 comments) says:

    There should be information sharing between WINZ and the Police and the Courts so that welfare beneficiaries who are looking after children and are involved in domestic violence, drug addiction or alcohol offenses should be very closely monitored. Basically drug addicts, alcoholics and violent people should NOT be paid to look after children. This profiling could be easily obtained with convictions being sent to winz so these people can be tracked. You can be sure if benefit money is being spent on drugs and alcohol, the children WILL be suffering. Long term I want cigarettes should only be available from a chemist on a Drs prescription for an addict. In the meantimes beneficiaries who smoke and are looking after children should be REQUIRED to attend programs to give up their addiction. If the parent smokes on welfare the children will be suffering.

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  11. Muzza M (291 comments) says:

    Had a couple of puffs this afternoon Viking?

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  12. Dave22 (15 comments) says:

    Policy sounds good in theory. However throughout the policy it talks about supporting people through their addiction… which basically means the taxpayer will be supporting them anyway to overcome their so called addiction, which probably isn’t an addiction but a good excuse to get out of working. Secondly if you cancel the benefit of a person who is indulging in illegal activity all likelyhood is they will resort to other illegal activity to keep themselves living in style. So they will end up costing the taxpayer a lot more living in jail.

    Unfortunately there is little any party can do to stop the folk intent on living off the taxpayer, if there is a way they can bludge they will!

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  13. Muzza M (291 comments) says:

    @Dave22 go and live in Asia for a while, no effing bludgers there, and not a lot of crime either. Give someone something for nothing and they place no value on it. Make them work it for it, and by hell they value it.

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  14. RightNow (6,994 comments) says:

    Viking2: Are these occasional tokers impacting “their ability to apply for or secure a job”? That seems to be the threshold.

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  15. ben (2,380 comments) says:

    6-12%? Why is there uncertainty about this?

    How many billion dollars does this cover?

    Why isn’t this a major election issue?

    There isn’t a part of this country’s political system that isn’t broken.

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  16. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    tvb “should be REQUIRED to attend programs”. Why tvb?, this bloody country is drowning in “programs” . As far as I’m concerned the best program would involve cold turkey for those drawing the dole, whether they look after kids or not. We bend over backwards trying to rehabilitate our fallow men, to much carrot, time for some stick.

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  17. hmmokrightitis (1,590 comments) says:

    @ Muzza M:

    “go and live in Asia for a while, no effing bludgers there, and not a lot of crime either”

    Youre taking the piss, right? Not a lot of crime? LMFAO, thats not the “Asia” I know.

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  18. Richard29 (377 comments) says:

    “In addition, benefit recipients on the run from the Police will have their benefit cancelled.”

    Or better yet get the police to co-operate closely with the banks in real time to track where the benefit is spent via the location of their ATM or EFTPOS transactions and then have a local patrol car pick them up and bring them in. It might be slightly beyond the current sophistication level of policing but it’s hardly CSI stuff…

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  19. david (2,557 comments) says:

    Viking2 the point as far as I am concerned is that I am buggered if it should be OK for the government to take my money and give it to someone if they are going to use it to get high. What I do with my cash is my business as long as it is within the law but the dole should be for necessities like food for the kids and clothes, shoes and medical treatment. The sooner it is seen as not the funding for a lifestyle, the better.

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  20. leftyliberal (651 comments) says:

    The problem is that it is possible to abuse the system because we give benefits selectively. This creates incentive for “free money” and removes incentive to work as the large abatement rates make it not worthwhile. Instead of allowing people to abuse the system through giving handouts to only certain people, fix the system by giving the same handout to everyone over the age of 18 equally tax free. Then tax all income over and above this equally to pay it. Pretty much NZ super for everyone rather than just the elderly (though at a somewhat reduced rate than current NZ super, or it’s not affordable). No more incentives, no weird marginal tax rates, no silly rules about who gets what.

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  21. Inky_the_Red (760 comments) says:

    Why not random drug and alcohol test MPs too? If they want to represent prove they have nothing to hide

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  22. nasska (11,579 comments) says:

    I reckon this policy is going to have to be “fleshed out” a good deal more before it is treated as other than a get tough measure on (choose from) welfare dependency, crime, child neglect, drug addiction, lack of motivation, etc. We should be used to pre election policies such as these which die a natural death when the practicalities of administering them are thought through.

    As a net taxpayer I’m unimpressed with a system that allows addicts to sponge off us for decades without effective intervention. I am similarly unimpressed with legislation which dictates what a worker or beneficiary does in their own time.

    Unless they are incapable of working safely on Monday morning what a person does to amuse themselves on Saturday night should not be the business of the state.

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  23. RightNow (6,994 comments) says:

    leftyliberal :”fix the system by giving the same handout to everyone over the age of 18 equally tax free”
    Yes lets do that, and make the handout zero.

    Inky the red “Why not random drug and alcohol test MPs too?”
    Fully agree with you, but don’t stop there, it should extend to all public servants.

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  24. nasska (11,579 comments) says:

    leftyliberal

    While I have my doubts that your idea of a basic universal payment would fly I would be interested to read of any costings of your proposal you may have at hand or be able to link to.

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  25. annie (539 comments) says:

    Supporting people through their addiction is acounterproductive for many people. Only a small percentage of drug addicts (as opposed to alcoholics and smokers) in my experience get their act together and give up, and those that do tend to get sick of themselves and do it alone, on the whole.

    I’ve only met one or two drug addicts who gave up longterm under A&D’s care. The rest are very happy where they are and for the most part have no interest in changing lifestyles or working. As for methadone, I don’t know why we continue with it. Optiate withdrawl is tough but not particularly dangerous; furthermore there have been a couple of decent studies showing that you can reduce the dose of methadone to zero in taste-masked double-blind controlled trials, and the patients will still go into withdrawl, or at least claim to do so, if their by now opiate-free flavoured water is stopped.

    I’ve known methadone users who hold their oral doses in their mouth till they get free of the pharmacist, then spit the dose into a container and sell it to some other idiot who will then inject it – a favourite wheeze in one area I’ve worked in. But these same users have their A&D handlers convinced they’d come apart without the methadone.

    I believe a shakeup is definitely in order, but let’s not overestimate the value of supporting addicts in their habit unless they are making tangible progress in the form of measurably reduced drug intake.

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  26. SPC (5,636 comments) says:

    The concept that a relationship exists between two people – when they live in two different houses, do not have a physical relatonship – simply because they provide each other with emotional support or share the same social activities is Orwellian.

    So two women going to the gym and offering each other advice about how to cope with living on a benefit (gardening, shopping, cooking for a budget) should get a room and admit they are in a relationship …

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  27. leftyliberal (651 comments) says:

    @nasska: I believe Gareth Morgan et. al. has a similar proposal that one presumes is well-costed, though I haven’t read all the details to check whether it aligns well with the general negative income tax/universal benefit concept:

    http://www.gmi.co.nz/bigkahuna/

    By a quick scan it looks like they propose a 30% flat tax (including some sort of tax on unproductive capital) would cover $11.5k/annum for over 20’s. There’s some calculators there by the looks as well.

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  28. Dave22 (15 comments) says:

    leftyliberal

    How does that encourage bludgers to get out and work? They will still be getting free money paid for by those of us who have a job and earn over the threshold. I struggle to see an advantage as taxes would have to be a hell of a lot higher for those earning above the threshold to be able to give the handout.

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  29. SPC (5,636 comments) says:

    Just don’t listen to the cries of starving chiildren or those on super unable to heat their homes – universal income, universal poverty from the cradle to the grave.

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  30. JamesS (352 comments) says:

    This is an excellent policy; it about time that beneficiaries were held to account. Decent people should not have to pay for drug habits of bludgers.

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  31. nasska (11,579 comments) says:

    SPC

    You’re right. I’ve had a quick look at the link ‘lefty liberal’ provided & it is obviously a bait site for Gareth Morgan’s latest publication. Knowing his abilities in the economic field the sums are probably right but the scheme, if implemented, would condemn many people to the scrap heap. While it would probably ensure that no one starved it would at the same time erode the already deficient ‘get up & go’ capabilities of many.

    That said, the present system doesn’t have a great deal going for it either.

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  32. thedavincimode (6,800 comments) says:

    nasska

    “Unless they are incapable of working safely on Monday morning what a person does to amuse themselves on Saturday night should not be the business of the state.”

    Yes ordinarily, but when its funded by taxpayers and isn’t essential to the welfare of them or their kids? Dope isn’t, just like SKY TV.

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  33. nasska (11,579 comments) says:

    thedavincimode

    It certainly isn’t in the interests of a beneficiary’s dependents but neither are alcohol, tobacco or fast foods which while not encouraged are not forbidden. A pack of roll your owns, a carton of cans or a tinny would all cost about $25 which could be put to much better use in a household funded by our taxes.

    My point is more that if a worker does his 30/40 hours or a beneficiary genuinely chases a job for the same period of time they would have essentially discharged their obligation to everyone else. I want to keep nanny state out of our personal lives & I can see a time when everything that moves is drug tested as a matter of social control.

    First they came for the Jews……..

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  34. Richard29 (377 comments) says:

    @Dave22
    Morgans proposal doesn’t incentivise work so much as remove disincentives to work. Currently loss of benefits, accomodation supplements etc mean that beneficiaries choosing work can lose upwards of 80c in the dollar effective rate, plus transport costs etc makes work not worth while..

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  35. SPC (5,636 comments) says:

    The problem with universal income is that when extended to include people with dependent children, (without childcare) those on the IB, or those retired on super it leaves them on an income that is too low and the incentives to work are not applicable.

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  36. Scott Chris (6,150 comments) says:

    nasska says:- “I want to keep nanny state out of our personal lives & I can see a time when everything that moves is drug tested as a matter of social control.”

    I think this is a legitimate concern. I would argue that an employer has the right to insist that his employees are not intoxicated whilst at work, but has no business interfering in an employees private life. If the employee’s performance suffers as a result of excessive drug taking, then he will either languish in the same position or be fired.

    However, when you receive a benefit, you effectively have to accept whatever conditions come with the free money, because you are not contributing anything to the relationship, and are relying on the largess of society as a whole to sustain you through a period of misfortune. Society, by way of government has the right to dictate terms, and the beneficiary can take the money with strings attached, or leave it.

    That is why I think this policy is a good idea. Perhaps a period of grace could be set for short term beneficiaries, but especially for long term welfare recipients, the blowtorch must be applied IMO.

    If workplace drug testing was confined to intoxication whilst on the job, then this would also provide pot smoking beneficiaries an incentive to get a job so they can relax in the manner that they choose…. After hours. Shame this isn’t the case.

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  37. Unsolicitedious (13 comments) says:

    Drug & alcohol addicts on the SB is a MASSIVE issue – this was the primary reason why Labour managed to get the UB down so low as so many were ‘transferred’ to the SB. I know this because I was in the frontline office on secondment when it happened. However, I also know first hand how difficult drug addicts especially are to manage.

    My own egg donor is a drug addict – that is why she is my ‘egg donor’ NOT my mother. She gave that right away when she chose drugs over my brother and I.

    She has been on the methadone program forever and perhaps even still uses heroin. Who knows. She is screwed up – no question about that. Just before her 50th she also had a stroke so drugs aside she is not capable of working.

    Then there is also the varied and rather traumatic reasons as to why she turned to drugs in the first place (which include having her first baby at the age of 17 being kicked to death when 6 months gestation – yes when her first baby girl was still in her womb).

    So while I am very much for pushing people to get treatment & am completely against intergenerational welfare that takes the piss out of the hard work and resulting high income my husband and I contribute, there does need to always be a balance in terms of providing support for those that are vulnerable.

    Had these hard line policies come into effect when my egg donor was young then she probably would have retained her parental rights. But to force them on her now just because she is still of working age would be cruel.

    And judging by what I saw in the WINZ offices first hand she is most definitely not alone. There are many people who turn to drugs due to extensive trauma so while firm policies are a great idea, it is important that it is coupled with a decent amount of support.

    The one thing I find this country lacks the most (in addition to a lack of substance to back up their views – Labour supporters being case and point) is empathy.

    So many people are so quick to make judgments against people facing circumstances they know nothing about.

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  38. freemark (581 comments) says:

    I know, spank me for being off topic, but this article
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10766200
    is another example of how the Nats Justice and Welfare Policies are going to give those of us who want to contribute to a decent and inclusive society a a Brighter Future.
    Once the Green sees the Light and separates from the Red , sustainability is also possible.

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  39. RF (1,404 comments) says:

    100% support for this. Too many sucking on the hind tit. Get a life… Get a job.

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  40. nasska (11,579 comments) says:

    Scott Chris

    Agreed….at least in the case of cannabis, although there will be traces of THC etc detectable for weeks after use, the actual effects will be gone within hours, certainly within a day. The work drug test policy is aimed at heavy users who toke up before & even during work but scoops the occasional recreational user into the net.

    You are also right that this is another disincentive for some beneficiaries to seek work.

    Unsolicitedious

    Regrettably any Welfare policy that allows those with a genuine need to receive sufficient help is also open ended enough to be easily gamed by career beneficiaries. I don’t think there is an answer that will result in a fair outcome.

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  41. Viking2 (11,488 comments) says:

    Muzza M (177) Says:
    November 15th, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    Had a couple of puffs this afternoon Viking?

    No Muzza have never had the need but and here’s what’s different. I don’t consider its mine nor your nor anyone elses role to tell others what they should or should not do with their personal lives and their income. Clearly you do.
    JAFS.then.

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  42. Scott Chris (6,150 comments) says:

    Unsolicitedious says:- “NOT my mother. She gave that right away” …….. “this country lacks the most….is empathy.”

    Well, she sounds genuinely sick. How could she have been dealt with more effectively do you think?

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  43. swan (665 comments) says:

    “The problem with universal income is that when extended to include people with dependent children, (without childcare) those on the IB, or those retired on super it leaves them on an income that is too low and the incentives to work are not applicable.”

    Well that all depends on how high the IB is set.

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  44. Steve (4,564 comments) says:

    Unsolicitedious, new troll
    Harden up, your tears fall on the deaf ears of the TAXPAYER because the TAXPAYER has had a gutsfull of the fucking bleeding heart dropkick sooks.
    Hello Jacinda?

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  45. SPC (5,636 comments) says:

    The question is where are the drug rehab programmes for those addicted? We cannot even cover those addicts in prison before their release let alone those on SB.

    As for recreational users with drug test on the job issues – the solution is to regulate a level of THC and call this the impairment level for workplace purposes. Thus moderate users who had not used it within 24 hours would be fit for workplace activity.

    What we have effectively done is used the workplace setting to test for illegal drug use and then kept people out of jobs where the testing regime applies. Thus created an issue where none needed to exist.

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  46. RightNow (6,994 comments) says:

    “where are the drug rehab programmes for those addicted?”

    There used to be a very good programme at Queen Mary Hospital in Hanmer Springs.
    Nek Minnit…

    2002
    The Youth Programme was withdrawn due to insufficient funding to provide the staff required for safety.

    2003
    The Taha Maori Programme was withdrawn due to insufficient funding.

    2003 August.
    The Canterbury District Health Board gave notice that it wished to sell the property

    2003 November.
    Hanmer Clinics closed the Hospital programme due to insufficient funding. Hanmer Clinics in liquidation. Queen Mary Hospital Ltd still holding the lease.

    http://www.queenmaryreserve.co.nz/history.html

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  47. Steve (4,564 comments) says:

    @ SPC
    Who is this “we” you speak of kimosabe? Are you a drug addicted Civil Servant trying to keep a Govt job for the dropkick losers?
    Do you think the TAXPAYER owes you a living?
    Fuck off and vote Liarbore

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  48. Viking2 (11,488 comments) says:

    Slightly off topic but related.
    Tonight on Sainsbury they talked about suicide rates in NZ. 500 plus each year. Road deaths at 350 approx. Does that not tell us something about our country. Does that not tell us we can rush to a physical accident with all the resources available BUT we cannot deal with the human emotions triggered by the state of our couinties economic position.

    Lasy 3 years 100k people left our shores (and yes more before that.) Our total number of beneficiaries has risen by 66000 in the last 3 years.
    Thats 166000 people who have been pushed out of the workforce and either on to a benefit or out of the country in 3 years.

    That is an indictment on our political policy making. Its an indictment on a political system that has no goals for NZ, has as its goal a retention of major party power over a sound policy of creating wealth for New Zelander’s.

    Further many of our businesses and farms and people are in financial strait jackets.

    My company is busy, busy as anything and have been for quite sometime and when I say to people that we are busy and we have hired new staff the reponse I get is amazing. generally along the lines of”Well that’s great isn’t it, you are really lucky’ and the next comment is that most people are not and they all have family or friends that are stuggling to live or hang onto their job. And I hear that most days.

    What has all this to do with the subject.

    Simple. When we have lots of worthwhile jobs that pay consistent wages and have consistent work then we can expect beneficiaries to be pushed a lot harder into the workforce, remembering always that some employer has to hire that person. Now as an employer for a long long time and who drives past the front door of the local Winz numbers of times each day there are plenty that I would never employ and the sad fact that some of those people are totally unemployable is also true.

    Telling people to go and look for work where they either lack the skills/confidence to do even that and to do that in an envioroment where there are no jobs is nothing short of bullying. (and you all have plenty to say about bullying)

    So the first requisite to fixing most of these issues is to have the jobs.
    Currently the focus is on offshoring as much as we can because its theoretically cheaper. Many times I have pointed out that we sack Kiwi’s and send them off to our benefit section, just so we can give a Chinaman a job. If we added the social cost of our actions to the labour cost of the Chinaman we maybe could acheive some balance, but we don’t.

    Essentially we don’t back our selves to compete.

    This of course exacerbated by our Laws by the over indulgence in interference in the relationships between employer and employee. The Govt. decrees all aspects of that relationship including the cost and it covers its arse by taxing earners to pay beneficiaries to the benefit of said Chinaman.

    Don’t any of you think that’s clearly stupid and needs changing.
    Even young people are denied meaningful and useful jobs because that dammed Chinaman is cheaper.

    Is it too hard to understand what we are doing to our young people with this kind of policy. Go look up the suicide stats. for the young. Appalling in a country like ours.

    3 years ago we were told the RMA would be changed to make stuff happen.
    Talk to any developer or builder here in Tauranga and they just about cry. Its got worse, much worse.
    Willamson and Smith should be sacked for their performance in these area’s. Indeed would be in a private company. Nothing has been done to drive down the cost of Local bodies. Tga have just managed to rid itself of an ultimate plonker on half a mil per year but the council an the Regional Councill rates are still going up.
    Tga consents used to run in excess of 200 per month and now down around the 40 mark. Are there any less staff. Hell no 82 engineers in our council and its taking longer than ever to get a consent. Their service is appalling, indeed non existent. No competition for their work, and they charge like wounded bulls for everything.
    Its getting so that no-one can be bothered.

    The managers are in charge and its no longer deemed to be hip to be an entreprenure.
    We are left wondering what the Nats are going to do for moneyas our country slows down and grinds to a holt.
    Sure ani’t no jobs and incomes growing.
    So, why would any of you expect beneficiaries to become other than criminals in that enviroment when you deal to them?

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  49. reid (16,509 comments) says:

    There are many people who turn to drugs due to extensive trauma so while firm policies are a great idea, it is important that it is coupled with a decent amount of support.

    A very good point Unsolicitedious and I might add also courageous. Thank you.

    No doubt Paula will be furiously looking up thesaurus after thesaurus for synonyms of “wrap” in order to sell this one.

    Perhaps if she were to drop that approach and talk on telly about cases like your mother’s (not your mother’s, like your mother’s) and explain in detail how those would be dealt with, it would be more successful.

    Thank you again. Very illuminating.

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  50. Scott Chris (6,150 comments) says:

    Steve.

    You are an asshole.

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  51. RightNow (6,994 comments) says:

    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2011/11/it_was_the_greens.html#comment-902526
    “After all, one of the tenets of the right is to be polite and accommodating, isn’t it? Aren’t we gentle men gentlemen?”

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  52. Dazzaman (1,140 comments) says:

    Smacking druggies and serial benefit fraudsters is all well & good, I applaud the govt. for these measures. What’s being missed though is the gross ineptness of WINZ & their lack of nous, or more likely what looks good in the 6 monthly review, when deciding who’s a fraudster & who’s genuinely needy.

    An older woman I know (63), works part time cleaning public loos, declaring all her earnings and she still gets fucked around. She broke her arm a while back & had to ignore the doctors advice and get back to work early because they, and ACC, fucked her payments again. We have advocated for her and brought about a bit of relief but……there’s no budging from the bloody case managers of either dept. without a big fight.

    I know of dozens of similar cases. It’s as simple as picking on little old ladies and the truly unfortunate due to the fact they’re far easier for “case managers” to screw them over for results.

    The problem is the same with the sickness benefit too, gang members just tell their doctor they’re “….going to lose it!”, hey presto, there’s a certificate for another six months sickness benefit.

    Govt. depts, especially WINZ, are part of the same old rort, a huge job scheme for the middle class with pretensions of providing social aid to the plebs. We’re in a halfway house of realities & good intentions. The sooner we face up to the realities, the sooner we’ll be rid of govt. dept. largesse too.

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  53. Chris2 (766 comments) says:

    It was only a few years ago that Corrections started sharing the details of newly sentenced prisoners with WINZ. Up till then many prisoners were still being paid their benefit months and months after being locked up because WINZ had no idea their “clients” had been locked up.

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  54. Dazzaman (1,140 comments) says:

    V2, hear hear!!

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  55. reid (16,509 comments) says:

    Up till then many prisoners were still being paid their benefit months and months after being locked up because WINZ had no idea their “clients” had been locked up.

    It’s crazy isn’t it, having all this technology raring to go, locked up by the silly ole privacy laws.

    I mean, one understands the point of opening Pandora’s Box, letting the genie out, et al. Yes one understands, there is no going back.

    Perhaps the Office of the Privacy Commissioner should cybermorph into a giant transforming data-destroying monolith just sitting there, in its former office crater on The Terrace, waiting to launch itself, at a time of its own choosing.

    Meanwhile the rest of us could go nuts, sharing any old thing with everyone.

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  56. Unsolicitedious (13 comments) says:

    Nasska – I agree, striking the right balance is not doubt utopia, but I am sure there would be aways to at least ensure those in their 50s & screwed up due to a life time of being screwed over could be given a free pass (let’s face it – what’s a few more years & it’s not like they will achieve longevity; substance abuse almost always translates into early death) while the young ones given the tough love that their parents clearly haven’t.

    Scott Chris – solution is to target the young. Substance abuse is starting much earlier these days so get to them & target the kids of addict parents so as to break the cycle.

    Steve – you’re an egg. And yep, definitely an asshole – perhaps a lefty in disguise? Only lefties are trolls and I’m no troll so piss off. Clearly you failed to read my comment. I know a lot of words may be beyond your literary capacity, but if you give it a try you may find you were mouthing off half-cocked. And I love your use of the term “taxpayer”: chances are you pay SFA all in taxes so until you do, don’t put yourself in the same category as me. Unless you’re in the top 13% you have SFA credibility.

    Reid – many thanks although for the record I wasn’t after a sympathy vote :-). I meant to just make the point that while circumstances are never an excuse, they do need to have some consideration when looking at policy. While I am absolutely in agreement with all of National’s welfare reforms, I do wonder whether this one may backfire if it fails to take into account people like my now 54 year birth mother. The last thing any government wants is suicides on their hands so there does need to be a balance. But Paula Bennett is a fantastic Minister (I worked for MSD and Annette King & Steve Maharey were useless as tits on a bull) so perhaps these things are already catered for.

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  57. burt (8,275 comments) says:

    Viking2

    Well said.

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  58. burt (8,275 comments) says:

    There seems to be a consensus across many people I talk to that changes to welfare are needed. I even know two hard core Labour voters who will vote ‘something else’ rather than Labour over Labour’s plan to extend WFF to beneficiaries. The question I think most needs answering is what amount of change and over what period.

    If the 80’s and 90’s taught us anything it’s that rapid change has ripples for decades. I’m not sure National’s most recent announcement is a sensible first step to beneficiary behaviour reform. It’s pretty much the exact opposite of where we are now and surely there is a journey to get there rather than a single step.

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  59. SPC (5,636 comments) says:

    What about bi-partisan agreement – that benefit levels are low and that in return for the tax credits being universal, some of these beneficiaries (risk assessment) get placed onto a card system to reassure taxpayers that the money has to be used for household expenses – food, power and child needs health care/pre school etc.

    The WWG, stressed that the key focus should be realising work capacity (that means drug rehab, child care etc), this is also something that can be bi-partisan.

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  60. Clint Heine (1,571 comments) says:

    I have a better idea:

    1) people that work will get tax cuts and that will be as far as the state will get into their lives.
    2) people that refuse to work will get squat. No house. No benefits.
    3) people that want to work and have real life proof will get support to train and get them into work
    which means more money for:
    4) people that cannot work and are disabled and need support – get looked after properly.

    A sign of a civilised society is how you look after those who need the most help – the bludgers who refuse to work are taking away our ability to look after the most needy and these people MUST have that capability taken off them until they are ready to enter society again.

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  61. laworder (292 comments) says:

    SPC wrote

    What about bi-partisan agreement – that benefit levels are low and that in return for the tax credits being universal, some of these beneficiaries (risk assessment) get placed onto a card system to reassure taxpayers that the money has to be used for household expenses – food, power and child needs health care/pre school etc.

    Hear hear, totally agree, although I’d be inclines to extend the card system to all beneficiaries with the exception of certain invalids with clear and evident disabilities and good track records of behaviour.

    Thank you Unsolicitedious for your insights – and yes, we need to have a lot more treatment facilities available. The closure of the Hamner springs and other facilities was a travesty, we should have been and should be opening more like that.

    tvb wrote


    There should be information sharing between WINZ and the Police and the Courts so that welfare beneficiaries who are looking after children and are involved in domestic violence, drug addiction or alcohol offenses should be very closely monitored. Basically drug addicts, alcoholics and violent people should NOT be paid to look after children. This profiling could be easily obtained with convictions being sent to winz so these people can be tracked. You can be sure if benefit money is being spent on drugs and alcohol, the children WILL be suffering. Long term I want cigarettes should only be available from a chemist on a Drs prescription for an addict. In the meantimes beneficiaries who smoke and are looking after children should be REQUIRED to attend programs to give up their addiction. If the parent smokes on welfare the children will be suffering.

    Agree with this, expecially the part about compulsory treatment – this should be extended to all those on benefits with substance abuse issues they refuse to address, not just those looking after children. That said, those with children should take first priority.
    We allow too many people to make choices that are too addled and incapable of making rational choices.

    Regards
    Peter J
    Webmaster for http://www.sensiblesentencing.org.nz

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  62. KH (695 comments) says:

    Our mental health services have their own dopey role in this. There are many people, with genuine illness who can’t get into the services. Rejected as not serious enough. But who have to live on benefits as they can’t function. Just match up the numbers on benefits with the miserable few who are in services. the gap is vast in percentage and in actual headcount.
    Some of the grumps who contribute to this site won’t accept that many people have significant difficulties. But please bear with it.
    An Example. Pleasant young women who lives with another couple. Well behaved and repsonsible in every way. But so anxious she can’t get out of the house. And a ‘good talking to’ is not effective. Depressed as well. It’s all totally unreasonable but please accept that is how it is for her. Can’t work obviously and lives on a benefit.
    Referred to the local Mental Health services who reject her as ‘not serious’ They are more excited by emergencies, ‘real’ things like schizophrenia and things with a bit of drama.
    Happens all the time.

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  63. Unsolicitedious (13 comments) says:

    laworder re “We allow too many people to make choices that are too addled and incapable of making rational choices.”

    The majority of people receiving assistance should be forced to treat it as a privilege not a right – regardless of what they are doing, how they got there, what their excuse is, the reality is that this help is funded by the hard work of others – the FEW, not the many.

    Clearly Labour’s ‘tax cuts for the rich’ BS has achieved so much momentum due to the convenient ignorance of the many who don’t actually pay a damn cent (or pay very little) in taxes.

    I am all for a safety net – especially for accidents, illness, death, natural disasters and relationship break-ups; many women are on the DPB etc because their husbands have buggered off with the secretary or pool boy. But under Labour we saw welfare increase substantially and all for no gain. All we have got for our money is more people (especially young Maori & PI) thinking they have the right to make others pick up the tab for the bad choices.

    I want a government that ensures people on welfare – including that farce of a ‘welfare for the middle class’ program WFF, treat it with the respect it – WE/I deserve.

    This money does not come out of thin air. It comes from those who make good choices, who plan and make sacrifices so they can enjoy a better standard of living.

    In that sense these and the other reforms are a huge step in the right direction. But they need to also accept that in some cases esp with older beneficiaries you have to cut your losses & just accept nothing will change. There is no way someone in their 40s or 50s after a lifetime of trauma and alcohol abuse will be fully rehabilitated. My guess the most you would be able to do is shift them off the SB onto to the Invalids Benefit.

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  64. leftyliberal (651 comments) says:

    nasska: While Gareth Morgan’s site is pimping his book, the computations in this case are straightforward enough. There are issues as SPC suggests such as lower super and still needing the IB for those that cannot work. Also slightly higher taxes for the very wealthy primarily due to the CGT. Lower super isn’t a problem as you get the UB your whole life, allowing saving. Biggest potential issue is lower incentive to work, offset by no abatement thus keeping more of what is learnt and also no stigma in being unemployed. The experiments in the seventies indicated this wasn’t a huge issue with those not working being in training or caring for kids.

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  65. robcarr (84 comments) says:

    1. You already normally go to prison for benefit fraud and the nature of benefit fraud means they normally get longer sentences than those imprisoned for regular fraud or forgery. Unsure how they could actually crack down further.

    2. Only around 1/3rd of people who seek help who have drug addictions have been able to complete a service because of there being no program for their type of drug problems or there is an inadequate program. You cannot impose drug treatment requirements without massively increasing funding here to get drug programs out to very tiny towns because it just won’t work otherwise.

    3. In my Welfare Law class the stat we got given was that around 1% of wrongful WINZ payments were not fraud. They were the result of the applicant not filling in the right form by mistake or more commonly WINZ accidentally paying them more than they are entitled to.

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  66. KevinH (1,229 comments) says:

    People who are on the methadone programme are managed through their local district health board’s outpatient service, and are in most cases managed off the programme progressively with the view of reducing their methadone reliance. Not all persons on these programmes are being treated for hard drug addictions, there are cases where people have become addicted to legitimate medications such as codeine, pethidine or morphine sulphates as a result of accident or illness. Therefore care is needed in handling these cases through the MOD whom may not possess the required clinical skills to make the correct assessments.
    In addition to that a zero tolerance approach is not helpful in recognising and treating drug use or alcohol addiction, identifying the problem and placing treatment programmes in place is the appropriate course of action to assist these people to integrate back into the community drug and alcohol free. Zero tolerance stigmatises people and can have averse downstream effects in the criminal justice system where users may offend to support their addictions or develope mental illnesses whereby they feel persecuted and marginalised.
    Drug and alcohol abuse is and always has been a health issue, not a political football.

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