Minister Sits Backs As Long-Time, Successful Service Falls
4 March 2013 MEDIA STATEMENT
Minister Sits Backs As Long-Time, Successful Service Falls Over
Despite all her talk about ‘wrapping’ support around New Zealand’s most vulnerable Paula Bennett has allowed a key information and advice service to fall over after 22 years in operation, Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.
“The Benefit Information and Advocacy Service based on the North Shore fields roughly 3,000 phone calls from around the country every year, as well as dealing with the face to face needs of people from across Auckland. It provides advice to people who don’t know how to access help, and steps in when Work and Income gets it wrong.
“Employing just 1.5 full time staff the service does vital work, with Work and Income even referring clients to it because of the help and support it provides.
“Ironically the government agency was only recently looking to refer an entire group of clients to the service, not realising its own minister was on the cusp of forcing the service to shut its doors by putting an end to most of its funding.
“Paula Bennett has seen fit to change the kinds of services that MSD provides support to. Now, if you do advocacy work, she won’t be sending a cent of money your way
“Clearly Ms Bennett feels threatened by those who know exactly what is happening on the frontline and this is her way of silencing them.
If she was standing up and telling us that Work and Income was providing a perfect ‘wrap around’ service that ticked all the advocacy and support boxes, then perhaps her inaction in this instance might be more justifiable.
“In reality, people need this service now more than ever.”