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Pressure Mounts On Rankin And Maharey

10 January 1999

Pressure Mounts On Rankin And Maharey

Green co-leader Rod Donald has challenged Social Services Minister Steve Maharey to guarantee WINZ will not blunder their handling of student finances like they did last year.

Early last year WINZ were woefully ill-prepared to handle the processing of student allowance applications, leaving some students stranded for up to two months with no money for rent or food. This year WINZ are also handling student loans for the first time.

"Given that Steve Maharey suddenly has confidence in WINZ chief executive Christine Rankin I would like him to assure the students of New Zealand that their loan and allowance applications will be processed swiftly and efficiently," said Mr Donald.

"The signs are not looking good so far. I know of a masters student who, having just enrolled for a full year, applied for her student allowance in the off-peak period in mid-November and she still has no money. Today that student made her twice-weekly call to WINZ only to be told by a machine that they were 'having difficulties' and to call back later."

Last week it was revealed that WINZ was unable to cope with the high level of calls regarding student loans and that their free-phone service was unable to answer 22 per cent of the 36,500 calls.

"With students gearing up to return to study the pressure is mounting on WINZ to perform and, through his endorsement of Ms Rankin, the heat is also on Steve Maharey," said Mr Donald.

"Following Mr Maharey's justified criticism of the WINZ bungling last year it is vital that, as the Minister, he makes sure students get a better start to this academic year."

ends

Rod Donald 025 507 183


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