Parliament

Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 

Government response to beneficiary advocacy groups

25 May 2000 Media Statement

Government response to beneficiary advocacy groups


The first phase of changes to the way the Department of Work and Income deals with those receiving benefits was outlined today by Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey.

Mr Maharey said the initial Government response to issues advocacy groups had raised dealt with various changes to the way Work and Income operates, and also delivered extra help in this year’s Budget through the Special Benefit programme and with more hours of childcare.

The standard $5 deduction from the Special Benefit would be stopped from 1 July, and the number of childcare subsidy hours that could be claimed increased from 30 hours a week to 37 hours a week from 1 February 2001.

Mr Maharey said the Government would also introduce legislation this year to scrap the work capacity trial, scrap the Community Wage and establish an Unemployment Benefit and Sickness Benefit, and make community work voluntary.

“The Government and benefit advocacy groups have made it abundantly clear we are looking for a culture change at the Department of Work and Income. These are the first steps in that change, and a sure sign that the Department is responding to those concerns.

“I am committed to changing the way the benefit system is administered and to the treatment those receiving benefits can expect from the Department of Work and Income.

“Advocacy groups, the Government and the Department will continue working together to make improvements to the organisational culture and practices of the organisation,” he said.

Mr Maharey said Government did not have to await its full response to the Hunn Review, due later in June, to begin improving the service those on benefits received from the Department of Work and Income. A number of proposals advanced by benefit advocate groups, which can be implemented at no extra cost, are being actioned immediately, while a further series of proposals requiring additional Government expenditure will require much more careful consideration.

. . / 2
Changes already in place or currently being implemented at Department of Work and Income are:

 a process has been put in place to re-examine all debts established over $5,000, including a check by a person not involved in the original decision;

 the Benefit Review Committee process has been reviewed and improved procedures established;

 renaming the Benefit Crime Units as Benefit Control Units. The way benefit control statistics are reported is also being looked at to ensure they are as fair and accurate as possible;

 reviewing the existing procedures and practices of benefit control officials;

 revisiting existing debt cases where overpayment is being recovered at a rate exceeding $40 per week;

 those receiving benefits will no longer be referred to as “customers”. Following research and discussion with those receiving benefits, the word “client” is to used as the generic term when referring to people receiving or applying for assistance. However Department of Work and Income staff will be referring to people as they are, for example, as a job seeker, a superannuitant, or a student;

 ensuring that benefit advocates contribute to the re-development of Department of Work and Income policy and procedures manuals; and

 assessing changes to the Department's computer generated letters.

Mr Maharey said other areas were still being looked at, for example the Department was seeking Government approval not to have to try and recover small debts that are uneconomic to recover.

“It is wrong that a widow receives a letter demanding the return of a minor overpayment made to her deceased husband,” said Mr Maharey.

The Department of Work and Income is also encouraging more contact on a regional basis between it and benefit advocacy groups. A number of constructive meetings have already taken place between regional commissioners and the groups.

Mr Maharey said the government was helping those on benefits through a number of ways that provided them with both security and opportunity, such as cheaper rents for State tenants and improved skills and educational opportunities. The Budget next month would reveal more of the employment package.

“It is now up to individuals to take up the opportunities that become available,” said Mr Maharey.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines


Whakaari / White Island Eruption: Body recovery operation

The NZ Defence Force recovered the bodies of six people who tragically died in Monday’s eruption on Whakaari/White Island and will support efforts to recover the bodies of two others in the hope there is resolution for those families. .. More>>

 
 

Gordon Campbell: On Welfare Vs Infrastructure Spending

If New Zealand has a pressing need to stimulate its flagging economy, it seems very weird that the government is choosing a $12 billion package of infrastructure spending – mainly on road and rail – that by definition, will take a very long time to deliver their stimulatory benefits ... More>>

New Reports: "Immediate Commitment To Doing Justice Differently"

Justice Minister Andrew Little released two reports today, Turuki! Turuki! from Te Uepū Hāpai I te Ora, and Te Tangi o te Manawanui: Recommendations for Reform from the Chief Victims Advisor. Both recommend a fresh approach to the way criminal justice has been approached... More>>

ALSO:

"Heart-Breaking And Confronting": Surgical Mesh Restorative Justice Report

Minister Genter: “People have talked about losing the life they had enjoyed before surgical mesh harmed them – the loss of a steady job, the ability to exercise, a loving relationship in some cases. Others described the chronic pain they experienced..." More>>

ALSO:

Law Foundation: Government Decryption Powers Must Respect Privacy

The power of government to order users and companies to decrypt encrypted data and devices needs stronger privacy protections and additional safeguards, according to a study published by researchers at the University of Waikato. More>>

Latest 'Discussion Doc': National On Healthcare

National has today released our eighth Discussion Document which focusses on health and outlines a range of policies which will enable more Kiwis to access high-quality healthcare, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says. More>>

ALSO:

Select Committee Report: Combatting Foreign Election Interference

MPs have finally delivered their recommendations to combat foreign interference in elections in a long awaited and much delayed report. More>>

Mosque Attacks: Names Of Arresting Officers Released

Police are now in the position to name the two officers involved in the arrest of the alleged gunman responsible for the attacks on the Al Noor and Linwood Mosques on March 15. More>>

Big, Bold, Permanent Change Needed: Children's Commissioner On 2019 Child Poverty Monitor

“I want to see family incomes dramatically raised by increasing benefits and making the minimum wage a living wage. And the Government needs to move much faster at increasing the supply of social housing..." More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 


 

InfoPages News Channels