17 September 2013
Fall in ACC levies shows harsh treatment of claims unjustified
“The 15-17 percent fall in ACC levies proposed by ACC for the 2014/15 year with further reductions to follow, shows that cuts in entitlements and harsh treatment of injured people making ACC claims were unjustified,” says CTU Policy Director, Bill Rosenberg. “The Government should restore the entitlements it withdrew in 2009 and consider increasing entitlements rather than simply continue to reduce levies.”
“We are also deeply concerned that the proposal to increase employer discounts for having low numbers of claims will put increased pressure on their employees to not report claims, report them as non-work injuries, or return to work too early. International research on experience rating and day-to-day experience of union members bears this out. This proposal should not proceed before a significant reconsideration of the scheme which aims to put most of the emphasis on preventative measures such as good training, worker participation and sound management systems, plus robust systems for detecting and taking action against this kind of rorting. Such a review should be in close consultation with the new Health and Safety Agency, WorkSafe, and be consistent with the principles recommended by the Independent Health and Safety Taskforce. We are not convinced that this kind of scheme can be run safely for workers.”
“On the other hand, we are very pleased that ACC is significantly increasing its funding of injury prevention. The forecast for 2013/14 is for $40 million to be spent on this after seven years of falling spending despite New Zealand’s very poor injury and occupational health record. That’s an increase from $22.4 million in 2012/13. We hope that this continues to increase, and is used in joint programmes with WorkSafe,” says Bill Rosenberg.
“The claim that ACC was in deep financial trouble has been shown to be political spin used to justify cuts in in entitlements and a niggardly approach to treatment and compensation of people with injuries. There was never any reason for the severe reductions. The short term effects of the global financial crisis on investment returns and interest rates were used to justify a long term cut in entitlements and treatments.”
The low and falling levies should also put an end to any suggestion that the private sector could do this better. The Government should publicly announce that its deeply faulted proposal for “competition in the Work Account” has been withdrawn.
The CTU will be considering these matters further in making its submission to ACC.