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National continues to get its facts wrong

August 12, 2008

National continues to get its facts wrong when talking about the public service

National’s welfare spokesperson Judith Collins is wrong when she claims that only a third of the staff at the Ministry of Social Development work in the front line.

She made the claim on Radio New Zealand National’s Morning Report programme today.

“The facts are that more than 90% of the staff at the Ministry of Social Development are involved in front-line work,” says Public Service Association National Secretary, Brenda Pilott. “The other 9.7% perform essential work providing legal, financial, IT, human resource, policy and communications support to the front line staff.”

“For Judith Collins to get such a basic fact wrong is a major concern and raises questions whether she actually knows what MSD staff do,” says Brenda Pilott.

Ms Collins was also wrong when she claimed on Morning Report that there’s been a huge blow out in the number of staff at the Ministry of Social Development (MSD).

“The number of staff has expanded because MSD has been created from the merger of four government departments,” says Brenda Pilott.

Since 2002 the Ministry of Social Policy, Department of Work and Income, Child Youth and Family and the Ministry of Youth Affairs have all been brought together to form the MSD.

“To describe the merging of four government departments as ‘a staff blow-out’ shows that Ms Collins does not know the history of the Ministry and what work it actually does,” says Brenda Pilott.

The facts are that there’s been a massive increase in the work the MSD does since the mergers began in 2002. “And the MSD actually employs fewer staff now do the work it was doing before the mergers began,” says Brenda Pilott.

MSD staff provide financial assistance to:
- more than half a million New Zealanders receiving New Zealand Superannuation, a War Disablement, Surviving Spouse or Veteran's pension.
- around 261,000 working age people each month who, because of health, family or employment circumstances, receive income support
- 1.1 million people who have a Community Services Card
- around 134,000 people who receive Student Loans
- 52,000 people who receive a Student Allowance.

“MSD staff work hard to provide income and employment support to more than one million New Zealanders,” says Brenda Pilott. “Many work in a difficult and demanding environment, which is why all Work and Income offices have permanent security guards and are monitored by security cameras.”

“For Judith Collins to claim that it will be easy for MSD staff to take on the extra workload required by National’s welfare policy shows a lack of knowledge about the workload and demands that the Ministry staff are curently carrying,” says Brenda Pilott.

This is a continuation of National getting its facts wrong about the public service such as the claim by John Key that 36,000 of the 42,000 staff in the core public service are ‘backroom’ bureaucrats.

“To claim that there are only 6000 front-line staff in the public service is absolute rubbish,” says Brenda Pilott. “National should stop spreading misinformation about the public service and tell the country which public services it will have to cut to pay for its promise to have three tax cuts in 18 months,” says Brenda Pilott.


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