Fudging Welfare Figures | The Jackal

10 Jun 2011

Fudging Welfare Figures

On the back of the National Government ordering that the entire Christchurch unemployed population not be included in recent welfare statistics, comes another blatant attempt by National to trick the public into believing unemployment rates have fallen. The difference between the cons is that one completely disregards a large sector of unemployed and the other ensures that more people are not eligible or do not reapply for their benefits because of harsh new criteria imposed by WINZ.

The new rules implemented under National's "Future Focus package" include people on the dole having to reapply for the benefit each year. This is at the expense of the beneficiary who has to be able to tick off a set of criteria that has become even harder to meet, despite in most cases there being no change in their circumstances, eligibility and requirement for assistance.

It's a negative move designed to make the Government look good at the expense of the poor and impoverished. Such a callous attempt to withhold the truth by damaging peoples incomes and their ability to survive in the real world is simply unacceptable!

Questions must be asked as to why the National Government has booted 5000 people off the dole over the past year due to archaic changes to the rules, when it's clearly in breach of the code of conduct as outlined in the Social Securities Act 1964, which states: 

11C  Matters to be included in code of conduct

(1) The code of conduct established under section 11B must con­tain the following matters: 

(a) Provisions -
(i) Requiring any information or document to be first sought from a beneficiary; and
(ii) Allowing the beneficiary a reasonable time to provide it before a requirement under section 11(1) is issued to a person other than the beneficiary, except where compli­ance with such provision would prejudice the mainten­ance of the law:

(b) A provision prohibiting a requirement under section 11(1) being made in respect of a beneficiary to any per­son (not being the beneficiary, an employer or former employer of the beneficiary, a financial institution, or a law practitioner) unless there is reasonable cause to make a requirement under that section:

(c) A provision prohibiting a requirement under section 11(1) being made to an employer in respect of any infor­mation or document that relates solely to the marital or relationship status of an employee or former employee of that employer:

(d) Provisions otherwise restricting requirements under section 11(1) made to employers to specified informa­tion relating to that employment and the address of the employee or former employee.

(2) In subsection (1)(b), reasonable cause includes -

(a) Cause to suspect that the beneficiary has committed an offence under this Act or has obtained by fraud any pay­

(b) The fact that the beneficiary or a spouse or partner of that beneficiary has failed within a reasonable time, or refused, to provide any information or produce any document in accordance with a request or requirement made to that person in accordance with subsection (1)(a).

Nowhere in the Act does it say that WINZ can cancel a benefit without first requesting relevant information on which to base that cancellation. Besides, the Act states that there must be cause for a request to be made in the first place. That cause does not include National's disdain for the poor of New Zealand btw.

It's clear that the cancellation of peoples benefits because of a new set of rules is a blatant move to reduce the amount of unemployed to look good for the gullible voter. Whether the callous move is successful for National in the upcoming elections is yet to be seen, but there's no question that such despicable manipulation is a moral outrage!

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett's obvious lack of understanding has led to WINZ breaching the Social Securities Act 1964. Such a breach will lead to negative social dynamics that will predominantly effect the already down trodden and impoverished poor.

National is just shifting people into further poverty and perhaps even criminal careers... Not to mention the even more drastic consequences of these welfare reforms like an increased suicide rate, drug abuse and domestic violence.

The 2011 Budget promised that 170,000 jobs would be created over the next four years. However the Ministry of Economic Development has done absolutely no analysis on where those jobs will come from. The same promise was made in the 2008 budget. The reality of the situation is that unemployment grew by +197,000 between November 2008 and January 2011 according to OECD figures. An unprecedented increase in less than one term under a National Government.

National has absolutely no plan to create jobs because they ultimately prefer a high level of unemployment to keep wages low for their rich business mates. The problem with this is that National quickly grew unemployment to huge levels from 2008 to 2010 and the inevitable public outcry has resulted in the "Future Focus package" to try and save them face. It's yet another double standard by a Government that has no heart or care for the damage they inflict.
In a recent article it was reported that only 1400 out of the some 5000 removed from the unemployment benefit said they had found work, with over 1000 no longer eligible according to the harsh rules leaving 2600 unaccounted for. But Bennett spins the rhetoric like she actually believes National has been creating jobs, which is yet another National lie that has recently been exposed in various articles

Paula Bennett said last week that her welfare reforms had led to 5000 people "cancelling" their own benefits in an obvious continuance of the blame the victim meme espoused by many right wing elitists. 5000 people didn't cancel their benefits Paula, WINZ kicked 5000 people off the benefit to fend for themselves. What implications this has on New Zealand's high suicide rate, which is a complete embarrassment for this country is not a factor that would have crossed Paula Bennitt's mind.

How many of those 5000 people you just stopped payments to without informing them went and killed themselves Paula Bennett? That's a statistic that would shed some light on just how successful National's war on beneficiaries has been. Could somebody remind WINZ that they must abide by the Social Securities Act 1964, which states:

A notice may be given under section 113 to a person
(a) By delivering it to that person personally; or
(b) By leaving it -
(i) At that person’s usual or last known place of resi­dence or business; or
(ii) At the address given by that person in the most re­ cent application or other document received from that person, in which case the notice is given when it is left for that person; or 
(c) By posting it in a letter addressed to that person at that place of residence or business or at that address, in which case the notice is given when it is posted.

Every year more New Zealander's die by suicide than in motor vehicle accidents. An international comparison of suicide rates in 13 countries between 2002 and 2005 showed that New Zealand’s 2005 suicide rate was the fourth-highest for males and fifth-highest for females. New Zealand’s youth (15–24 years) suicide rate is also very high, with the second-highest male youth and third-highest female youth suicide rates in the world.

Paula Bennett
Population suicide rates reflect the prevalence of people experiencing extreme psychological distress and indicate the limits of the system to assist and care for those affected. The total population suicide rate dramatically increased in the mid-to-late 1990s, just when welfare reform and privatisation really started to hurt Kiwi's. This correlation should not be overlooked.

In 2006, the total population suicide rate was 12.2 people per 100,000. This had declined from a high of 15.1 people per 100,000 in 1998. Suicide rates are higher for people aged 15–24, Māori, and those living in socially deprived areas ie people more likely to require welfare assistance. There are three times as many completed suicides among males than females, although females are more likely to attempt suicide or self-harm.

While Statistics New Zealand reports that the jobless rate fell 0.1% to 6.6% in the first quarter of this year, National still order's that the Christchurch unemployed are not counted and WINZ undertakes a regime of automatic non-notified cancellation of unemployment benefits with tough new application criteria. This will disproportionately affect Maori with the 2007 statistics showing the age-standardised rate of suicide deaths at 16.1 per 100,000 population for Māori, compared to 9.9 per 100,000 for non-Māori.

National has of course not released any recent suicide figures that are likely to show a worsening trend due to negative politicking to gain beneficiary bashing votes. If the suicide rate has fallen they will take credit, if it has risen they will blame the Christchurch earthquakes; but can we actually trust National's figures at all considering the manipulation they've recently undertaken at the expense of the poor?