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Winz Sends Debt Collectors On Students

The department of Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ) has been billing Otago University Students for “debts” owed to the department due to a timing error at the start of the University year and final payments of community wage over summer.

The Otago University Students Association (OUSA) has in the past weeks been dealing with a number of cases in which students who were overpaid by WINZ in the first week of lectures have either had threatening debt collection notices sent to them, their loan and allowance payments stopped, or money removed from their accounts without their knowledge.

“This is yet another example of WINZ acting as a law unto themselves and completely ignoring the financial needs of students”, said Andrew Campbell OUSA President.

In a letter sent by the association to associate minister of social welfare, Ruth Dyson alerting her of the issues Ms Dyson notes that the CEO of WINZ apologises, “for any undue stress this matter may have caused”.

“Sorry isn’t good enough”, said Campbell. “All year WINZ’s response to these issues is to either brush them aside or say sorry, neither of which actually help the students living on tight budgets and having $25 removed from them every week. Sorry simply doesn’t pay the bills”, said Campbell.

“Students are becoming more and more dissatisfied with WINZ. This is just the latest in a long line of WINZ stuff ups this year. I have grave concerns that the WINZ review will provide nothing more than a slap on the hand for a department begging for a major shakeup and change in ethos”, said Mr Campbell

Contacts: Andrew Campbell or Shaye Chalmers
(OUSA President) (OUSA Advocacy Coordinator)
Ph: 03 479 533 Ph: 03 479 5350
Cell: 021 345 368

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