Despite failing to get answers from Nick Smith, Kevin Hague has had some success in getting answers about ACC. Perhaps it is because he asked some questions of a Minister other than Nick Smith.
Here are the answers, graphed as a percentage of the total number of beneficiaries at the end of each year:
1999 was the last year that the work capacity / vocational independence assessment criteria Nick Smith wants to reintroduce were in full operation.
In 2000 the new Labour-led Government announced that it would be changing the law to provide a greater focus on rehabilitating claimants into sustainable employment rather than just moving them off weekly compensation, and in practice ACC began assessing claimants on the basis of the proposed new law. A significant drop in the number of people entering the benefit system from ACC coincided with this.
There was another significant drop in 2003, by which time the new assessment criteria were fully operative for all claimants receiving weekly compensation, and the number of people entering the benefit system from ACC has remained relatively stable ever since.
Treasury have expressed concern about the ACC gutting Bill shifting costs onto other government agencies and the Regulatory Impact Statement for the Bill not quantifying those costs. Based on the figures provided by Paula Bennett, that concern is well-founded.
Shunting injured people off ACC onto welfare benefits, where they may languish for years, rather than rehabilitating them into employment is a false saving – as bad for the economy as it is for the injured person.