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Beneficiaries treated like 'second-class' citizens

Press release 8 April 2008

Study confirms beneficiaries treated like 'second-class' citizens

It comes as no surprise that the Kiwis Count Survey released today has found low public satisfaction with social assistance services", says Dr Louise Humpage, a sociologist at the University of Auckland. The survey found that only 52% of respondents are satisfied with their most recent service experience in this area, compared to 79% in environment and recreation and 75% in education and training.

"This finding supports my own research, where focus group participants believed many beneficiaries are treated like 'second-class' citizens and Work and Income officials and processes are the main culprit", said Dr Humpage, who is leading a new study on understandings of citizenship in New Zealand.

"Participants in focus groups gave example after example whereby Work & Income treated beneficiaries with disrespect - even while they displayed signs on the walls promoting client rights", says Dr. Humpage. Those on the Unemployment and Domestic Purposes benefits were treated the worst, while students and super annuitants did not feel as stigmatised.

"This is the result of the welfare policies we have seen since the 1990s which require many beneficiaries to run around meeting obligations that other New Zealand citizens don't have, just because they receive income support. This is having a negative impact on their sense of belonging and identity as New Zealanders".


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