Jan Logie
Beneficiaries unfairly targeted while inequality grows

How timely that on the day of the first reading of the Government’s Social Security (Fraud Measures and Debt Recovery) Amendment Bill, TV3 aired an Inside New Zealand documentary – Mind the Gap.  The documentary  eloquently explained inequality in New Zealand and why the National Party appears to have different rules for different people.

Amongst many other things, the documentary explains that debt owed by beneficiaries totals $23 million while debt owed through tax evasion totals $1-5 billion. The number of people prosecuted for tax evasion was 50 while the number charged for welfare fraud was 800.

There appears to be one rule for the rich and one for the poor.

The Bill will, we believe, further stigmatise the most marginalised people in this country and result in less money in the hands of the poorest New Zealanders. It will treat debtors to the Ministry of Social Development more harshly than other debtors.

Two-thirds of what is believed to be welfare fraud is in fact debt. Much of it is a result of administratively created overpayment and problems with the interface between beneficiaries who are working part time and reporting systems through the Inland Revenue Department. The debt is often advances given to people to pay for some of the absolute essentials in life, including things like fridges, washing machines, tampons and food.

The legislation is far too complicated. It has been amended a mind blowing 131 times, it includes 422 sections, 31 schedules, and there are 50 policies that are at the discretion of the chief executive of the Ministry rather than being enshrined in the law. This makes this extremely hard for staff to know what people are actually entitled to and results in beneficiaries not receiving their full entitlements.

This combined with a loss of funding to so many of the benefit rights organisations who are trying to provide advocacy for people going into the system and the cuts to legal aid for beneficiaries wanting to appeal their lack of entitlement, leaves us with a very dangerous system where the most vulnerable people in this country are very much treated under a different and unfair rule.

Yet the Government’s focus is to introduce this Bill that is focused on the recovery of the debt from the few people who have managed to get their correct entitlements and fed their children or bought a fridge in their house.

Meanwhile the dishonesty of tax evasion destroys our social fabric and the $1-5 billion that isn’t paid must be collected somewhere else in tax increases or reduced services.

53 thoughts on “Beneficiaries unfairly targeted while inequality grows

  1. The more I think about the Mind the Gap programme, the more I am dissatisfied with it. It took what is actually a serious issue, and applied a very skewed view of it. A view that espoused a position. While actually ignoring the real problems. Which is actually typical of many of the comment-ors on Frogblog, so perhaps in the eyes of the locals, it was not skewed at all.

    The core issue of Jan’s thread is:

    debt owed by beneficiaries totals $23 million while debt owed through tax evasion totals $1-5 billion. The number of people prosecuted for tax evasion was 50 while the number charged for welfare fraud was 800.

    Its time to start being honest. Really honest. Before continuing, here’s a short youtube clip to illustrate where we are about to go.

    The truth is (deep breath) there are people in society that society doesn’t want or need. These people are a drain on society, and will always be a drain on society. There will be more of these people in the future, as society continues to move to need even less of what they offer. And worse than this, the real problem is we haven’t determined how we are going to handle the issue.

    Now just to be clear, I’m using broad bush stereotypes here; not everyone who is a beneficiary is in the category of the unneeded, some are needed people who are in an inbetween situation.

    The Americans have a solution (of sorts) to their unneeded. I don’t much like their solution, but the have a solution. They accommodate their unneeded people in jail. But they haven’t figured out how to keep the unwanted population increasing, so their solution isn’t sustainable, they’ve got around 2m locked up, could they handle 20m, 50m? At some point it has to break down.

    A welfare state is the mark of a civilised society, but at what point does it too become unsustainable? The socialist approach is to tax the haves to support the have nots, but that can only work for so long.

    Whether you spend money putting people in jail, or paying them welfare, it still costs money to keep these people. And as the mix of needed to unneeded continues to shift to unneeded, the cost problem becomes more acute.

    And this is part of the reason that there appears to be, as Jan puts it, “one rule for the rich and one for the poor”; there is in fact one rule for the people who contribute to society, the neededs (even though they may be defrauding society in the process), and a different rule for those who are a problem to society, the unneededs.

    We need to have a better answer, and before we can have a better answer, we need to start talking about this issue. Because if we don’t, then the toss-up of what will end mankind expands to climate change, the second (or third, or fourth) coming of peak oil, or societal collapse when the unneededs go to war.

    A radical political solution will get less likely as time goes on as we allow the unnneededs to vote, and as we know, turkeys rarely vote for Christmas. Clocks rarely run backwards, and Genies are not cool with going back into bottles.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 8 (-6)

  2. When I worked as a social worker within the Dept. of Social Welfare many years ago, we had nine three inch thick manuals governing the administrations of benefits and one covering social work practice around child protection and youth justice. Benefit staff were required to know their ‘rules’ inside out to deal with clients adequately – a very difficult, if not impossible task! It was no surprise that frequently found people who were not receiving what they were entitled to, and were suffering as a result. It was also not surprising to find many who were in debt to the Department because of administrative errors. The whole area was a minefield for all concerned. What happened this is happening now – the beneficiary was blamed. They were at fault for being in need in the first place, for not knowing what they needed, for getting things wrong(and being overpaid), and then for defrauding the taxpayer! I found that benefit staff very seldom admitted their errors – it was always the beneficiaries fault and they got punished. So what’s new, eh?! Meantime thousands of ordinary Kiwis every day are avoiding paying tax – and justifying it to themselves and each other – “It’s my money, and the gummit wants to take it from me”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1 (+10)

  3. As a current beneficiary.. I’m supportive of W&I using every effort to stop genuine benefit fraud..
    BUT I also really support Jan’s comment that these efforts against FRAUD need to be across the board. Methinks that this Govt. is turning a ‘blind-eye’ to corporate fraud, because those who are benefiting are likely to be ‘right-wing’ Nat. party voters ?!

    kia-ora

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0 (+3)

  4. Yes, Dbuckley, we will always have the idle rich, who are a huge drain on societies resources, while contributing little.

    Fixed it for you.

    Most of those on welfare, except for those that are chronically ill,seriously injured, too young, or too old, to work, are on welfare for less than two years. In other words, over their lifetime, they contribute much more in work and effort to society than they take out.

    What we should be complaining about is how mean successive governments have been with paying out on claims on the social insurance we, those of us who pay taxes, contribute to. Preferring to give money to their cronies instead, or, as in the case of ACC, accumulating huge surpluses, to fatten it up for the giveaway/sorry sale, instead of paying out to clients.

    We can produce all that we need, and a lot of what we want, without every adult working full time. Something a sustainable economy and society needs to address.

    Ideas such as a UBI, for example, which says that everyone, not just the rich, are entitled to some of what past and current tax payers built, and enough to live.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0 (+8)

  5. http://werewolf.co.nz/2011/02/ten-myths-about-welfare/

    “It is a very odd situation. The same politicians who have been unable to manage an economy so that it employs people, are now blaming people for not finding jobs that do not exist. Nothing in this process is directly about reducing or alleviating poverty. It is mainly about reducing costs by making it harder for families to access the assistance they need in adversity – and this is being done in part at least, to make up for the revenue given away in last year’s tax cuts. It is part of the wealth transfer from the poorer to wealthier members of New Zealand society occurring on the government’s watch”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0 (+8)

  6. Years ago people were deported from “mother England” for petty crimes such as theft of bread, most of which were committed in acts of desperation to survive. We see a similar scenario quite well-established in this country where marginalised people are being pushed to greater and greater desperation, and they are being pilloried by a system which has grossly failed them.

    While deportation was a way in which England rid itself of such “ungrateful citizens” the present governance in New Zealand is restricted in its ability to adopt such a process. However denying them access to social services on the grounds it is too costly and throwing those who do not comply into prison is not a dissimilar process to that of 18th and 19th century England.

    We are not so advanced a society as we may think. Certainly, under this present administration, we are turning back the clock a loooong long way.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1 (+1)

  7. “The truth is (deep breath) there are people in society that society doesn’t want or need. These people are a drain on society, and will always be a drain on society. There will be more of these people in the future, as society continues to move to need even less of what they offer. And worse than this, the real problem is we haven’t determined how we are going to handle the issue.”

    I beg to differ, I think politicians, police, and prostitutes do have something to offer society, if they weren’t all so morally corrupt!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 (+1)

  8. Kerry, its time to make up your mind, and choose one of the two statements you have just made. (and your ideological willy-wave is wasted on me as I’m not a “winger”)

    In the first post above you state that

    Most of those on welfare, except for those that are chronically ill,seriously injured, too young, or too old, to work, are on welfare for less than two years”

    In your second post, you link to an article that starts:

    1. Anyone who wants to get off welfare can get a job.

    No, they can’t. In the last two months of 2010…

    Your first statement has been true for most of the time the welfare state existed, but those days are now behind us, the second statement is now ascendent: every day, people are being born who will never work. During the majority of their lifetime they will not be (again to quote you) “chronically ill, seriously injured, too young, or too old” to work; they just wont be capable of any job that we need people to do. They are being born into (as things stand today) a life of welfare.

    For you Kerry, this is your red pill – blue pill moment. Your next post will determine if you are part of the problem, thinking that traditional leftist thinking will make it all go away (blue pill) or wondering if there is actually a solution, and what it might be (red pill).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1 (-1)

  9. The assumption you make, that the 1% are contributing to our society, is actually very much an assumption. You’d need to qualify them according to how they make that money. Those who EARN it get my respect. I haven’t had to mete out a lot of respect however. Others are simply high class grifters, fleecing the rest.

    That said, there IS a problem but it isn’t with the beneficiary. It is with the assumption that in an age of vastly increased productivity, there is or will be a job for everyone.

    We have to consider far more closely how we are re-structuring our society and I do think that you’ve got that part at least somewhere in the foreground DBuckley. If so we aren’t really going to disagree TOO much about what the problem is. It isn’t the people who have to go on the benefit, it is the reason so MANY have to go on the benefit. It is what does a society do with all that unwanted unusable available labor.

    What does it do with the extra humans.

    There being far too many of us already.

    What we need is a good war, or a plague, or something that seriously cuts back on the population.

    …or maybe we need MUCH better education opportunities, as those who are well educated are seldom so prolific.

    … maybe we need MUCH better social support so that there is no incentive to have children to take care of us in our dotage.

    … maybe we need a more equitable and balanced economy with a wider range of better paying jobs available.

    … and we of a certainty need a better plan for the developing automation and elimination of humans from the production side of the equation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0 (+2)

  10. The truth is (deep breath) there are people in society that society doesn’t want or need. These people are a drain on society, and will always be a drain on society.

    This is true to the extent that the same ‘problem’ was uncovered as a result of the industrial revolution where the drive towards efficiency replaced people with machines.

    Our society merely faces the latest wave of this phenomenon.

    How we respond to it is a different matter – treat surplus humans as economic refuse or factor it into a new gearing for our economy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0 (+5)

  11. Not sure what you are getting at DBuckley.

    Either.

    1. We accept that in a sustainable economy, full employment is neither necessary nor desirable, as we can give everyone a reasonable living, without it, and use answers such as UBI, and a decent wage for part time work, to solve the problem. So that all benefit from our increased productivity. Remove the incentive to make a living by finding ever more creative ways of ripping off the environment and fellow citizens to make a living.

    Or. 2. We carry on giving away the benefits of increased productivity, to increase the wealth of a very few, most of whom contribute very little to society, while impoverishing the majority. And reap the whirlwind of a more and more dysfunctional society and degraded resources.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  12. Gregor W has it exactly right. Human beings are not surplus production units, to be scrapped when not required.

    And. As BJ says, the one proven method of reducing population, long term is increasing the education, income, prospects and autonomy of young women.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  13. “The truth is (deep breath) there are people in society that society doesn’t want or need. These people are a drain on society, and will always be a drain on society”.

    What? DBuckley, are we going to do with all the surplus bankers, accountants, overpaid managers, speculators, Gina Rienharts, Kardashians, John Key’s, John Banks, Brierleys, Rich Fayweights, Gibsons and all the similar drains on society.

    Paying them a UBI would be cheap in comparison to the amount they cost us, now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  14. A while back we had the industrial revolution, and despite some trouble (Luddites, anyone?) we got past it. This was because we replaced one sort of labour with another sort of labour, but by and large people could reskill.

    We’ve had another couple of revolution in the last half century, that seem to have gone without names or recognition. The first is the automation revolution, which has mercilessly displaced the able bodied, everyone from service station assistants to cow milkers and sheep dissectors. The opportunities for people who “do” have become marginalized as technology has encroached on their skills, and taken their jobs. They can obviously re-skill into other “doing” work, where these opportunities exist. But changing skills in later life isn’t always easy.

    The second revolution is the intellectual revolution, which has significantly raised the bar for eligibility for employment.

    The impact of these two (ongoing) revolutions is that for the first time ever those who have been displaced by progress cannot get a break in the changing world. That is a statement of the problem.

    And this is why at one and the same time we have skills shortages, yet significant and troubling unemployment.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  15. Not sure what you are getting at DBuckley.

    Either.

    1. We accept that in a sustainable economy, full employment is neither necessary nor desirable…

    Its not a question of “necessary or desirable”, it’s… impossible and/or unacceptable. A very different thing.

    as we can give everyone a reasonable living…

    It is this latter part. Society needs to start thinking about how it defines “everyone”, as that will become contentious, as UBI and accepting some people never do a day’s work will be unpalatable to a large chunk of society. (Cue PhotoNz)

    We need to stop thinking that (deep breath (again)) CGT, maximum wage, slapping the rich, wealth transfer (insert more here) are all beneficial as they are slideshow distractions from the big issue. (Though replacing the entire tax system with a transaction tax is an idea worth considering). The rich are not the problem, and especially aren’t a problem to be fixed. The left are doing a mighty good job of looking like the band on the Titanic in this respect.

    The real problem is not the rich’s fault, other than as an accident; human progress is the one at “fault”, if there is a fault, and progress is what we as a species do, though obviously not all progress is good progress.

    I don’t have the answers, but I can see the problem, and its obvious its looming large. I saw the writing on the wall as a kid, in the form of newsreel footage at the movies, showing us the future, and they were in some ways right. Unfortunately, as a kid, I didn’t understand what the writing on the wall meant; the future looked really good. Now I’m here I consider myself lucky, I could be in a much worse place…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  16. I think the biggest example is the recent case of a work and income manager who stole $190000 odd and ended up get 10 months home detention.
    If it was someone from the other side of the desk they would be doing jail time now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0 (+2)

  17. Except, the wealthy ARE a major part of the problem, not just because they are paying Governments to prevent solutions, and their disproportionate grab of wealth makes gaining votes for a sustainable society much harder, but also because they waste hugely more of societies resources than the rest of us.

    It baffles me there are those who think that people like Gina Rienhart, who would be unemployable in any real job, should be allowed millions for living in idleness, but want to deny basic living allowances for those who modern productivity and technology has displaced.

    If you think, and I agree, that there are too many people in the world, note that poverty and lack of social welfare makes people have more children.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 (+1)

  18. And. On the whole the Luddites were correct. Well paid independent cottage craftspeople, who had control over their own work, were replaced with underpaid half starved factory workers.

    The same as we see in New Zealand, prosperous family farmers being replaced with low paid corporate employees, with no hope of ever earning enough to own their own farm.

    As energy become too costly,for our current global trade, if we do things right, I see a resurgence of local artisans and trades happening, helped by a UBI, wealth redistribution and a stable society. If we don’t we will slide into a third world nation of low paid commodity producers, for rich owners offshore, the direction National is hell bent on.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0 (+4)

  19. Jan says “Amongst many other things, the documentary explains that debt owed by beneficiaries totals $23 million …”

    If the documentary stated that, then it would be totally misleading.

    In the 2011/12 year, 714 cases were successfully prosecuted, which resulted in $23.4m of debt being established.

    However this represented just 2% of the 33,462 cases of overpayment that were found though data matching.

    Treasury says of welfare debt – “As at 30 June 2012, MSD was owed $485 million in debt arising from investigations and data matching, including
    $106 million owed as a result of prosecuted fraud. MSD also manages debt from overpayments, which are routinely picked up by Work and
    Income ($176 million owed as at 30 June 2012).”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 (+1)

  20. photonz1 – the doco didnt say that so Jan has unfortunately misconstrued.

    The academic source stated the disparity witjhin a financial year between prosecutions of benefit fraud ($23m value, 800 something prosecutions) vs tax evasion ($1-5Bn estimated value, 50 something prosecutions).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  21. Gregor – so why would the documentary say there is only $24m of beneficiary debt when the figure is $485m, plus $176m debt from over-payments? (unless it was trying to deceive)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2 (-1)

  22. so why would the documentary say there is only $24m of beneficiary debt

    because it didn’t. Go back to your bridge troll.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3 (0)

  23. Sokta says “because it didn’t. Go back to your bridge troll.”

    So according to you, it’s Jan that’s telling porkies then.

    She says “Amongst many other things, the documentary explains that debt owed by beneficiaries totals $23 million.”

    Either Jan or the documentary is trying to mislead people.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3 (-3)

  24. she also said while debt owed through tax evasion totals $1-5 billion which is also clearly wrong.

    But you know that eh troll.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1 (+1)

  25. Photonz, despite your desperately pulling numbers of various types to try to show that the poor are more guilty than the wealthy, the actual likely source of most of that debt is errors made by the employees of MSD in trying to handle an intractable human problem.

    Worse than that though, is that you CANNOT stretch ANY numbers sufficiently to show that the poor are cheating more than the wealthy, or even as much as the wealthy, or that they are not prosecuted more often and more thoroughly than the wealthy. There is a law for the rich and a different law for the poor.

    We KNOW that, and you know it too. That is the truth that the documentary exposed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2 (+2)

  26. Gregor – so why would the documentary say there is only $24m of beneficiary debt when the figure is $485m, plus $176m debt from over-payments? (unless it was trying to deceive)

    The doco didn’t, as I explained.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0 (+2)

  27. I suspect that a significant number of the people who owe MSD etc money have actually missed out on some of their entitlements due to the lack of understanding of those entitlements on both their side and MSD, etc. If these entitlements were correctly factored in, the total dept might be quite a bit lower than claimed.

    Trevor.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1 (0)

  28. From the documentary the $1bn number is a number with some provenance, the $5b was a guess on the part of the interviewee.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  29. I wish the government would go after tax evaders as much as it goes after welfare fraud… $1 billion a year would be quite nice

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 (+1)

  30. bj says “Photonz, despite your desperately pulling numbers of various types to try to show that the poor are more guilty than the wealthy… ”

    Nonsense – I happy to send anyone to jail who screws the system.

    bj continues “…the actual likely source of most of that debt is errors made by the employees of MSD in trying to handle an intractable human problem. ”

    Did you make that up, or do you have proof? I suspect you made it up.
    Nearly 10% of beneficiaries done for fraud were for amounts over $100,000.

    That’s not some trivial crime.

    I find it pathetic that you and Jan above try to sidetrack criminal fraud into a rich vs poor argument.

    If someone rips off the taxpayer for $100,000 I don’t care if they are rich or poor – they should be locked up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1 (+2)

  31. The documentary says government debt now (which is currently 35% of gdp) is much worse than it ever was in the 80s (when it was a massive 70% of gdp).

    If the truth doesn’t back up his story, he just lies through his teeth instead.

    Or if he doesn’t agree with a theory, he writes it on a placard and films a bleeding zombie holding it – only a zombie would not see straight though such shallow and pathetic stunts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2 (0)

  32. The point Photonz, was that despite your happiness about it for “everyone”, only the poor are sent to jail for “screwing the system”.

    ———

    If 10% are for amounts over 100k mate, 90% are for amounts less than that.

    The discussion of error arises from other posts on this and the related threads which indicate the complexity of regulations under which funds are administered, and the expense of seeing to it that people obtained the benefits that the law actually provided for their situations. In combination with your 10% and the 90% remaining after your number is subtracted plus the additional (from your own posted data) inference that only about a quarter of the “debt” results in prosecutions (106m vs 485m). The clear implication there is that the bulk of the “debt” is not prosecuted at all. Now either the government has a case or it does not. If it does not, one CAN guess that the reason is often enough innocent error, particularly given that similar errors that shortchange their clients are so commonplace as to be even more expensive to correct.

    I didn’t simply make up numbers Photonz, I extrapolated and inferred to work out that more was error than intent. You are so keen to paint the beneficiary as evil that it seems that reason has left your discourse.

    This isn’t my particular area, I simply listen and apply reason to the information presented, and I can from your own numbers recognize that you are making no small effort to mislead.

    ————-

    The “government” debt is not the same as the debt of New Zealand, which is what he was discussing. The government debt is a small part of the debt we have actually been incurring.

    You are so fixated on that government share of debt that you can’t seem to work out (though it is blindingly obvious from the context) that it HAS to be the private debt that is being discussed. I don’t THINK you were trying to intentionally mislead… but this isn’t about the debt of the government of NZ. It is about the debt New Zealanders are sinking into due to the policies of that government.

    What is pathetic here, is that of the people prosecuted for tax fraud, for larger sums… NONE are locked up.

    I never said that that frauds shouldn’t BE locked up, I said that there was one law for the wealthy and a very different law for the poor.

    Which is damned well obvious to anyone.

    BJ

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1 (0)

  33. Let’s play “Spot the logical disconnect!”

    “bj says “Photonz, despite your desperately pulling numbers of various types to try to show that the poor are more guilty than the wealthy… ”

    Nonsense – I happy to send anyone to jail who screws the system.”

    Ignoring the “I happy” and looking at what Mr photonz1 has said, can anyone find any logic buried, at any level at all, in this wee rant?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  34. Bjchip said to photonz1;
    ” I can from your own numbers recognize that you are making no small effort to mislead.” and that’s the reason we so enjoy Mr Chip’s presence here on Frogblog. One of the reasons.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  35. A comment on the figures…debt from fraud 23m is different from 485m debt from data-matching is an estimate, and after investigation often reduces. One of my advocacy cases this year turned around a claimed debt of $34K into a payout of 2,500 to my client, because believe it or not, the investigators claims were wrong. This wrong estimate happens all the time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1 (+2)

  36. My concern about the Bill currently before Paliament is that in targeting so-called partners we run the risk of increased domestic violence. Again, based on experience as an advocate I am aware many women accused, and yes, found guilty of benefit fraud (DPB-Sole Parent) did so to survive because their wonderful partner was in fact abusive and violent and unsupportive, nevertheless shared the bed. Threats of prosecuting such delightful men won’t reduce the acts of benefit fraud and will more than likely increase the acts of violence.
    But then maybe dbuckley and his ilk regard both as needing a gas chamber.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0 (+2)

  37. I saw Bill English on the telly a few weeks ago saying how the government makes finances available so people can just survive on a benefit. I think he must have dreamed that idea up himself. Work it out, if a person gets $214.00 p/w on a benefit, and their rent is $170.00 p/w the balance cannot pay even their food account per week, let alone everything else! If they don’t cheat the system they don’t live, it’s as simple as that.

    But change anything you like, and grizzle and moan when dead bodies regularly turn up on the streets of those who starved to death, who cannot survive at all on the pittance Bill English thinks people can just survive on.

    In countries with no social welfare that is exactly what happens. When you’re next on your overseas holiday, paid for from money you didn’t declare to Inland Revenue, make sure you pop by India, if you can stomach the mess they call ‘existence.’

    Is that what you really want?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  38. There certainly is one law for the rich and one law for the poor. And it is a damned shame that in this country, such documentaries like ‘Mind the Gap’ are nowadays the very rare kinds of programs our much reduced (almost abolished) public broadcasting produces and presents. It was even a privately owned channel that ran it. We get inundated with biased information, where the stock exchange is more important than child poverty figures, where political personality battles, celebrity news, Royal babies and infotainment rule, but real news are almost non existent.

    I was surprised the program was even screened. We have more public and community television like the former Triangle TV now “FACE” television channel will soon go to Sky TV!?

    We have a government misinforming us and lying to us day in and out, where democratic rights like holding a referendum are referred to by the Prime Minister as a “waste of money”. Sadly many talk back hosts cheer lead him and join the ranting on.

    Why I mention all this, is because we have also been lied to about the welfare reforms, and that there is “overwhelming evidence” that work is “good for our health” (apparently any jobs on the “open” job market, as that is where the government now wants to even drive sick and disabled to look for work. They have taken the first step to turn former “sickness beneficiaries” into “job-seekers” now, only some being “deferred” from work expectations due to sickness (for time being). Yet they will re-assess them all over time, and apply a new regime, that is anything but fair and does NOT have the scientific evidence behind it, to be justified.

    Also did the government use hand-picked “experts” to advise them on welfare reform, and it ignored the bulk of critical submissions sent in by affected and others.

    See for yourselves what really is behind it all:

    http://accforum.org/forums/index.php?/topic/15188-medical-and-work-capability-assessments-based-on-the-bps-model-aimed-at-disentiteling-affected-from-welfare-benefits-and-acc-compo/

    http://accforum.org/forums/index.php?/topic/15264-welfare-reform-the-health-and-disability-panel-msd-the-truth-behind-the-agenda/

    You will learn heaps reading those analysis contributions by a writer on ACC Forum! Nowhere in the media do they write about all this, I wonder why?!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1 (+1)

  39. “50 policies that are at the discretion of the chief executive of the Ministry rather than being enshrined in the law.”

    Re that fact about the newly amended Social Security Act 1964, I may add, that is is not in line with modern day law making, to allow the Chief Executive of such a government Ministry and its departments so much discretion.

    Even the Legislation Advisory Committee criticised the introduction of yet more discretionary powers under the ‘Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill’ (later passed into an Act).

    It is now under the discretion of the Chief Executive of MSD, and therefore Work and Income, which means ANY staff member authorised to act under the C.E. (including ordinary case managers), to decide, who as sick or disabled beneficiary has sufficient “incapacity” to not have to face work testing. Yes, they can decide this now, even where medical certificates may state clear incapacity, that a person can still do some work. Future work capability assessments will no longer primarily and solely be conducted based on medical records and evidence, and that is a loosening up of criteria, which will allow the Ministry and its staff, to pressure many sick and disabled into work or training, to try and compete with fit and healthy on the open job market!

    Next in line will be outsourcing of medical and other assessments, which appears to be planned already, so we will after all get a system and regime like in the UK, where thousands died as a consequence of having been assessed wrongly, and being pressured into trying to find work, or to do work, they could not do. Over 1,100 have been claimed to have committed suicide or died in the UK in 2011 alone.

    So seek advocacy advice, if a case manager requires you to do things you see not fit to do. Sadly, as Jan writes, many advocacy services had their funds cut or capped, and they are like kept at the leash like a dog under strict control now.

    Our beneficiary rights are being taken off us.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0 (+2)

  40. Well, I just wonder where my comments have gone? So the truth is not what the Greens wish to be read? Well, there goes my vote, I simply do not trust your stand on welfare, as it is quite ambiguous and comes from the position of those rather well off middle class people, who always appear to know better.

    Good luck with your blog, party and else, too much fluffy stuff and little clear substance.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  41. BJ – why do you make up blatant lies that are so easily disproved ?

    BJ quote…..”What is pathetic here, is that of the people prosecuted for tax fraud, for larger sums… NONE are locked up. ”

    We only have to go back as far as last Friday to find a 3 1/2 year jail sentence for tax fraud of $300,000.
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/9106166/Man-jailed-over-fake-invoices.

    8 1/2 years and 8 years for tax fraud
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10827609

    2 years for tax fraud
    http://www.3news.co.nz/Taxi-driver-jailed-for-tax-fraud/tabid/423/articleID/243279/Default.aspx

    3 years 3 month jail for tax fraud
    http://www.voxy.co.nz/national/extradited-accountant-jailed-tax-fraud/5/146760

    1 year for tax evasion of $55,000
    http://www.newzealandtaxation.com/2012/01/year-in-prison-for-tauranga-tax-fraud/

    If you are going to make up a blatant lie, you should come up with something that can’t be disproved over and over, with nothing more than a 10 second google search.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2 (-1)

  42. This matter relates to an incidence in 2006-07:
    http://www.newzealandtaxation.com/2012/01/year-in-prison-for-tauranga-tax-fraud/
    Involves a relatively insignificant sum of money, $55,000.00 and the report does not indicate reparations as part of the sentence.

    This matter involves a sum of about $2.3 million and reparations is not part of the sentence, even the two major players got 8.5 and 8 years respectively for their crimes. Why do Beneficiaries overpaid have to pay the money back? I think I’ll find a regular occurrence here, the biggest fraudsters and thieves get to keep the money, or it is not required of them to repay it. That because there is or is not an equally applied system for beneficiaries to abide by? I’d say, IS NOT!
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10827609

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  43. True, I shouldn’t have said none, I should have said few. I won’t apologize. The prosecutions and the jail time is not the same, not the same justice for all. Which is the problem I was trying to highlighet. Have to be exact though. Few. The correction is accepted but you remain a beneficiary bashing dickhead.

    One law for the wealthy, another for the poor. One for the Pakeha, another for the Pasifica. This is NOT acceptable. It is NEVER acceptable.

    “For tax evaders, the average offending is $270,000, and those found guilty have only a 22 percent, or one-in-five chance, of being jailed.
    For welfare fraudsters, the average offending is $70,000, and those found guilty have a 60 percent chance of being jailed.

    http://www.3news.co.nz/Courts-tougher-on-benefit-fraud-than-tax-dodging–study/tabid/1607/articleID/273541/Default.aspx

    As wealthy folks are setting the example in terms of cheating, and NOT just in the area of simple frauds, they shouldn’t be surprised if poorer people learn from it. The social contract breaks down as the GINI gets higher.

    But there is also the flip side of the coin.

    http://blog.greens.org.nz/2010/02/17/the-great-welfare-benefit-rip-off/

    How many beneficiaries are being ripped off by not getting their full entitlements? …and how much is THAT worth?

    That is why there is a huge problem with your focus Photonz.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  44. BJ says “True, I shouldn’t have said none, I should have said few.”

    So if it was an error/lie, why did you emphasise it further by putting NONE in capitals.

    Do you actually even know how many “a few” is, or did you just make that up as well?

    Then you compare jail rates for benefit fraud, not with tax fraud, but with a lesser crime – tax evasion.

    That’s like comparing jail rates for manslaughter with jail rates for assault.

    For example simply not paying your tax because you or your company doesn’t currently have enough money, comes under tax evasion.

    IRD are far more likely to get the tax owed and the standard 150% penalty if they don’t send every business owner to jail every time they are late paying tax.

    So it’s a nonsense comparing jail rates for fraud with the lesser crime of evasion.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2 (-1)

  45. “For example simply not paying your tax because you or your company doesn’t currently have enough money, comes under tax evasion.”

    For example a beneficiary receiving monies under the wrong entitlement, say ‘rent assistance’ instead of ‘Working for Families’ is counted as benefit fraud, even though the ‘fraudster’ is totally unaware the monies came from the wrong source. It is a clerical error of the department.

    So the laws really ought to be streamlined to remove ‘fraud’ as the only word applicable for monies over paid, not paid, or paid from the wrong source.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  46. Photonz, that’s the way we expect you to be.

    You just admitted that people can get away with not paying tax simply because it is assumed that they are good people who WILL ultimately pay, along with the penalties assessed. In other words, we’ll trust them to find the money.

    At the same time the beneficiary who makes a similar error is much more likely to be prosecuted and is regarded as a bad person who can’t be trusted, and the penalties are taken OUT of whatever meager benefit they were supposed to be on.

    Go ahead now… whatever you want to say PLEASE go ahead and have the last word.. I don’t ever lie… but I do occasionally make mistakes. I admitted that one. You however, are still trying to bash beneficiaries while letting tax cheats get away with it… because they have money.

    Your words mate. You’ve made my point. So go ahead, have the last word.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  47. @marc – if you do not log in with a password, your comments will be held up in moderation. Unless they are objectionable, they will be released and appear in chronological order, but this can take a little while, depending on other work loads of the moderators. If you do log in with a password, your comments will normally appear immediately unless you include something that the automatic checking system throws on – like some words or some links.

    Do not take delayed appearance of your comments as an indication that your comments don’t toe the Green Party line – half of what does appear here challenges the Green Party line including many of my own comments.

    Trevor.

    PS: I am not actually a Green Party member, so I don’t speak with any authority.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0 (+2)

  48. The best thing about being on a Benefit, the Government pays your fines! That’s 100% right. Yes, the Government pays money and before you get it the Courts take their cut, the IRD take theirs for Child Support, Tax, and everything else they can think of. Student Loans don’t figure as beneficiaries don’t get enough to pay off a student loan.

    And if you should get another fine, for god knows what, say a minor speeding ticket of $650.00 just as an example, you can say to the Courts “Put it on my account” and they do, they’re just so obliging! The Government giveth and the Government taketh away! :)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1 (-1)

  49. What is not the case Gregory W? I’ll change it a little bit shall I for your benefit (aha ‘benefit’ there a good word)

    The best thing about being on a Benefit, the Government pays MY fines! That’s 100% right. Yes, the Government pays money and before I get it the Courts take their cut, the IRD take theirs for Child Support, Tax, and everything else they can think of.

    Student Loans don’t figure as beneficiaries don’t get enough to pay off a student loan.

    And if I should get another fine, for god knows what, say a minor speeding ticket of $650.00 just as an example, I DID say to the Courts “Put it on my account” and they did, they’re just so obliging!

    The Government giveth and the Government taketh away!

    It’s the Government paying the Government back, as far as I’m concerned.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  50. In reality Gregory W, the Court at Palmerston North is a ‘kangaroo court’ where ALL the judges are BENT, and ALL the Lawyers are just as BENT! I was ‘on the run’ from the ‘kangaroo court’ for years before I had a series of heart attacks, directly caused the animals you call police, and the thugs who scam taxpayers for their ‘salary’ who call themselves ‘Court Employees’ and ‘Officers of the Court.’

    It is not an accident that the majority of people who turn up in the courts are of low income or are beneficiaries. They are the people most likely to be targeted by the animals as they are the least capable to protect themselves!

    The ‘law’ in New Zealand is a farce! If you think is was an ‘accident’ that the supposed ‘terrorism’ arrests preliminary hearings were held in Rotorua kangaroo court, think again. Bent courts with bent judges are mandatory in the Central Police State, aka the Central Policing District.

    Why do you think that murder trial, where the man was found not guilty in Wellington, then his lawyers died apparently of natural causes, was moved from Palmerston North kangaroo court? It was moved because a fair trial is not possible in a kangaroo court!

    The Court stole $2000.00 off me, that I can easily prove in a real court, but unlike a high profile Lawyer, I can’t take my matter to another Court without the kangaroo court interfering in the outcome. Those bastards simply ignore all law and rewrite even High Court Orders to suit their corrupt selves.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  51. Trevor29, 11:05 pm on 04 Sept.:

    Thanks, I appreciate your comment. That last, 3rd comment from me further above, was actually meant to have been deleted, as I did send a follow-up message after it, to be withdrawn. That did for some reason not happen, and whoever is editing or moderating this blog must have missed my request.

    I am aware that moderation can take time, but in the case of my first two comments above, it took about a day or so, until they appeared as accepted comments. I only wrote the 3rd comment, as the ones still in moderation had suddenly “vanished”, when I reloaded this blogsite. So I thought they had been deleted and were not going to be published.

    So apologies to all, who may have felt a bit offended by that 3rd “grumpy” comment above.

    I otherwise support Jan Logie with much of what she does, and I am aware she is spokesperson for a number of areas, so she has to prioritise her work at times, which means welfare issues are not always addressed straight away by her.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>