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Quality Service for your tax dollar?

Quality Service for your tax dollar?

by Bret Williams.

Recently I found myself unemployed, and in the unfortunate position of having to ask WINZ for help. Receiving an unemployment benefit involves a “Job Seeker Agreement” between myself and WINZ whereby I will:

“Approach as many prospective employers as possible…. For any job vacancies”

No problem there, but my main concern is identifying who these ‘potential employers’ are- I’m new to the area and not sure what kind of business could use my eclectic collection of skills.

The good news for me is that under my job seeker agreement, WINZ are obligated to “Support and assist” me towards work by:

- “Working together to identify appropriate activities

- Referring you to suitable activities and/or jobs

- Profiling and referring you to Work Brokerage services

- Making sure that the activities that you are referred to are available”

(job seeker agreement 4/9/08)

$218 million for jobseeker development. That’s a lot of photocopied maps and highlighter pens. Or is stationery part of the $199.5 million “other operating expenses”

So on Thursday, after receiving my first benefit payment, I attended my twice-weekly meeting. This was with one of Work and Incomes professional “work brokers”. I explained my concerns to him, and must say was a little disappointed in the effort he made.

“Working together to identify appropriate activities” consisted being handed a poorly photocopied map of my town, with three quarters of it shaded in highlighter. I was told all the businesses in these areas are your potential employers.

For the process of “Profiling” me, I was shown a list of current vacancies and asked the question “which of these jobs could you do?” I would have at least expected my CV to be read as part of profiling.

This was not my first meeting with WINZ, as the Job seeker agreement requires me to report twice weekly to my local branch. At my Tuesday meeting, I had been given example C.V. templates, told to prepare my own, and that I could have copies made on Thursday.

Unfortunately the work broker did not agree with the template, and refused to copy my C.V. if it was longer than two pages. After he begrudgingly agreed to make ten copies, I discovered that “support and assistance” didn’t include a staple or paperclip to hold the two pages together.

There was one potential employer I was directed to go and see about a job, but after cycling to the premises, I discovered the business was no longer there. This would have been avoided if the work broker had permitted me to phone ahead, but I was told this is not acceptable. So much for “making sure that the activities that you are referred to are available”

I know it’s up to me to find a job, and I know I have to put in effort. I’m just disappointed that there are government employees absolutely failing in their responsibilities, and collecting a large salary from the taxpayer. These guys are professional “work brokers” and that’s the extent of their service.

$218 million dollars was spent last year:

- “Assessing clients’ capability to work

- Supporting jobseekers to develop skills and knowledge relevant to labour market opportunities

- Actively working with industry to identify employment opportunities for job-seeking clients

- Matching jobseekers to appropriate employment opportunities

- Providing clients with support once they are placed into employment.”

(Ministry of Social Development’s Financial Statements and Performance Information, Year ended 30 June 2007)

$218 million for jobseeker development. That’s a lot of photocopied maps and highlighter pens. Or perhaps stationery was part of the $199.5 million “other operating expenses” declared in last years annual report

So next time you curse the “lazy dole bludger” for making a living off your tax, ponder this:

Last year, Unemployment benefits accounted for only 4.7% of total benefit payments

WINZ operating expenses (excluding benefit payments) for last year were over $1.1 Billion

WINZ spent $21.4 million last year on “other personnel expenses” If I’m unemployed for a year, I’ll only cost you $12,688.

So why take the time to write about it? Well, the contract I have with WINZ states clearly that if I neglect my responsibilities, my benefit will be cancelled. It says nothing about the consequences if WINZ fail their duties. All I can do is appeal to the taxpayers and let them know the poor value for money they get from their public servants. And who knows, maybe someone will think I write well and offer me a job.

All figures sourced from:

Ministry of Social Development’s Financial Statements and Performance Information for the Year ended 30 June 2007


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