Saturday, February 12, 2011

ZenTiger Work and Income and Travel

Last week, Metiria Turei said this:
My father was a peaceful, kind, decent man, just like the thousands of New Zealanders who now find themselves out of work. John Key's Government suggests they are bludgers, but New Zealanders use the support when they absolutely need it and move on when they can.

That's what I tried to do, that's what my Dad tried to do and that's what New Zealanders are doing today; about three quarters of those on the dole are there for less than a year.

And today we have a story on the front page about one of those bludgers who spent two years traveling the world, still receiving the benefit. That adds a new meaning to "moving on when he can".

The article shows Mr Freedom saw this hand up as a hand out, that circumstances were such that he had been wronged and was owed the money. I can see the logic though. If the government are going to pay you a benefit without question for sitting on the couch for two years, why not keep claiming just because you happen to be sitting on a different couch? Obviously, for every story of bludging, there will be a story of need, and Metiria is probably reading the front page news with dismay.

The thing I find interesting is that there are so little checks done on long term beneficiaries, and I suspect even if their were checks, it wouldn't amount to anything more than a rubber stamp to keep collecting the benefit, as long as you show up.

In contrast to beneficiaries being paid over $28,000 a year and little oversight, a home schooler has to fill out a statutory declaration every 6 months, and have it witnessed and signed by a JP or lawyer, and then the ministry of Education gives you about $700 a year towards education costs.

The idea that beneficiaries would have to actually front up to get their benefit, or periodically declare their circumstances haven't changed and all the conditions are being honestly observed is an interesting one. It might encourage them to make the effort to move off the benefit faster, or in the case of Mr Freedom, send the occasional post card to WINZ. I think it's time people had to do a little work to keep their benefit, and that means periodically updating WINZ with the situation, or automatically have the benefit cut off.

"Having a lovely time, please send more money. Wish you were here."

6 comment(s):

Anonymous said...

There's been a recent change which requires beneficiaries to reapply once a year - but that still provides plenty of opportunity for rip offs.

scrubone said...

I despair of some of these lefties.

Any requirement whatsoever is a "barrier" which is just about impossible to cross. I've even seen one (Mia) argue that producing a birth certificate is a huge hardship for some people. Well, food costs money too!

In reality, National isn't suggesting they're budgers at all - just that some are. Thing is, you get a lefty in a good mood and he'll admit that perfectly freely. But by focusing on one aspect and pretending it's the entire policy you can pretend your opponent is the devil incarnate and get the votes of those very bludgers.

KG said...

Make them queue up outside the centre once a week or fortnight in order to be paid. And produce a list of companies they've applied to for a job. Perhaps that will at least stop them referring to the dole as their "pay".

Glenn said...

KG: Did you realise that in fact unemployment beneficiaries do have to provide a list of job applications that they've made?

Guys, yes this man is a scumbag for doing what he did, but you have to appreciate that he broke the rules that are already in place, getting around them by using two different names. You can't mount an effective critique of the welfare state by using examples like this.

That would be like rejecting Catholicism because of the behaviour of one Catholic, even when the Church itself condemns that behaviour.

ZenTiger said...

Hi Glenn. Just to clarify: I'm not trying to mount a critique of the welfare system with this post. We know there are bludgers and con artists, and we know there are genuine cases of need.

I was just reflecting on the apparent lack of monitoring of beneficiaries for this to happen. The fact that he had two names is besides the point he was swanning about for 2 years overseas and didn't have to front up to a case worker at any time, or fill in a form and get a declaration done, like the home schoolers do every 6 months.

You could throw in the fact that as a small business owner, I have to do a whole lot of paper work at my cost, solely for government monitoring, and that's not to get money off the government, but instead because they want me to work as an unpaid tax collector, and then take a slice of any profit I make.

And this guy made it for two years?

OK, so they've changed the rules recently. But how many years has the dole been in operation, and they've now tightened one screw?

Glenn said...

Well actually the new rule change is fairly immaterial - he broke rules that existed at the time. It was a stuff up over one case and he exploited it.

I only say this because for a few months in 2008, between jobs, I was on the dole. My job seeking efforts were certainly monitored, and in general the rules are made clear to everyone. So it's not like they've just now realised that people might do this. It's just shocking that he somehow slipped through the cracks.

Whether we should have this system at all, on the other hand, is its own question, but one case doesn't show much.

I was more replying to KG, whose comment implied that recipients of the dole don't have to show that they are applying for jobs. They do.

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