The Turei show continues

Metiria Turei and media have ensured her confession about benefit fraud and her campaign for beneficiaries stayed as one of the biggest political stories.

Turei has advised that the Ministry of Social Development has been in touch with her after she wrote to them, and she will be interviewed next week.

She continued with her focus on beneficiaries in Parliament yesterday.

And media have widened the scope of their questions, including whether her daughter’s father was a flatmate, and what part if any the  father had in her support – Turei said this was a private matter.

As a press release from the Green Party:  Statement from Metiria Turei on MSD

“Today, I have spoken over the phone with an investigator from the Ministry of Social Development.

“I was phoned by this person after their office received a letter from me (attached), which I sent on Monday.

“The letter asserted my willingness to co-operate fully with an investigation into the period of time I received a benefit during the 1990s, and I confirmed that over the phone today.

“During our phone call, I made myself available to be interviewed about my case.

“We are in the process of confirming the details of that meeting, but it will take place next week.”

http://img.scoop.co.nz/media/pdfs/1707/LettertoMSD.pdf

Patrick Gower: Conviction for fraud could see Metiria Turei quit Parliament

Greens co-leader Metiria Turei could be forced to quit Parliament if she is convicted of benefit fraud.

“While benefit fraud is legislated under the Social Security Act, we generally prosecute under the Crimes Act,” a spokeswoman for Ministry of Social Development told Newshub.

The charges usually used are:

  • Obtaining by deception or causing loss by deception (punishable by up to three years imprisonment)
  • Dishonestly taking or using document (punishable by up to seven years imprisonment)

Under the Electoral Act, if an MP is convicted of a crime punishable with a sentence of more than two years, they have to leave Parliament.

Ms Turei lied to get more money, and it goes back to when her daughter Piupiu was born. She says she had no other option, although she did have time to campaign for the McGillicuddy Serious Party in 1993 and the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party in 1996.

Ms Turei was on the Domestic Purposes Benefit from 1993 until 1998. In three flats during that time, she lied about how many flatmates she had to get extra money.

My guess is that she will pay any money deemed to have been overpaid to her back but she won’t be prosecuted.

NZ Herald: Metiria Turei explains silence on flatmates in fraud case

In a sit-down interview with the Herald, Turei said she couldn’t condemn people who were faced with hard choices because of financial hardship.

“We have a system that leaves people with too few choices. That the only choices are bad ones. Not to pay the rent, not to pay the power bill, not to have enough food for your kids. Or, lie to WINZ and keep a secret.”

There is also the choice to work to supplement your income, or to live in a relationship with someone who contributes to your costs of living.

Metiria Turei won’t say whether one of the flatmates she failed to tell Work and Income about was a boyfriend – saying the state has no right to investigate a woman’s intimate personal life.

Actually the state does have a right under law to question whether someone claiming a sole parent benefit is living with a partner or not, and whether they are being supported by a partner. This is fundamental to how benefits are calculated and paid.

Asked if living with a partner without disclosing that to WINZ was more serious than failing to tell the agency about flatmates, Turei said it was treated differently by the agency.

“And one of the things that I will do if I get the chance is to fix that system so a woman’s personal life is not subject to questions by WINZ, by MSD. We have seen a lot of that directed at solo mums.

Currently a person stops being eligible for sole parent support if they are in a relationship.

Like it or not, that’s the rules now and it was when Turei was a beneficiary.

She said that the need to care for her baby and not her political beliefs led her to lie to Work and Income. Turei campaigned for the McGillicuddy Serious Party while receiving her benefit, and was a part of a theatre group.

“None of us had any money. I think that’s the thing – people on benefits are entitled to a life as well. They need the financial resources so they can pay the rent and put food on the table, they need a pathway out of welfare.

“But they also need to engage in the world, to be able to be with family, to have friends, to do other things, be politically engaged if that is what they choose. We shouldn’t have a benefit system that locks people out of their community.”

Some like Turei think that the state should fund a choice of lifestyle.

Others cut back on some of their social life when they have children, and when they are on a benefit.

Audrey Young:  Metiria Turei turns spotlight on her own failures

MSD investigators would not be doing their job if they did not ask whether one of the flatmates was a boyfriend living in a de facto relationship and whether they could talk to some of the flatmates.

That would elevate the issue from an overpayment to a more serious breach of the law. It is a simple question Turei has repeatedly failed to answer because she believes that the state is intruding on private lives.

On the other hand, she might discover that any offending is considered at the lowest level or that there was no offending at all because she was within the flatmate allowance.

But the actual offending and any debt has been of less concern to many of Turei’s critics than her attitude which has remained one of unswerving entitlement to break the law.

This is where Turei has got herself and her party into a quagmire from which it will be difficult to extricate itself.

Her sense of entitlement to break the law has invited a host of examples moral equivalents – hypothetical offending by other types of people, including say farmers, and other types of offending, including say tax fraud, in order to justify getting more money to feed the kids.

Many people starting small businesses suffer from financial hardship for some time, and it’s not uncommon to not pay taxes because there is a choice between that and feeding their families and paying basic bills.

But taxes shouldn’t be just waived for anyone who claims to be in financial hardship.

In the meantime, the focus is finally starting to turn away from Turei and towards the Greens’ new social welfare policy which is to remove sanctions and obligations from welfare recipients.

That includes women receiving sole parent support (the old Dpb) living with their boyfriends.

Under the Green Party policy, a man and woman can be living in a de facto relationship for three years with one of them working and earning and the other getting a benefit without losing the benefit.

There are not too many people who would see that as the fair application of a safety net.

Under that policy the state would need the right to investigate someone’s private circumstances, unless the Greens want it to operate on a trust system, where it’s leader says that breaking the law to get more benefit is justifiable.

Turei’s actions were designed to turn a spotlight on the failures of the system. They have instead turned the spotlight on her own failures as a politician.

This could become a quagmire for Turei and the Greens. I don’t know how well they thought this through before making an issue of it – I suspect some idealistic tunnel vision may have missed the possible jeopardy.

Turei condoning benefit fraud

I understand to an extent what Metiria is trying to do with her stand on benefit fraud. Many people on benefits really struggle financially, and that’s an issue that deserves attention. Sure she is trying to maximise votes in the upcoming election, but I believe she passionately believes she can do good for poor people.

But there are aspects of Turei’s agenda that I have real problems with, especially her condoning of benefit fraud.

Her own admission suggests more than a solo mother fibbing a bit to ‘feed her child’.

It happened over a three or five year period, which is sustained cheating.

It happened in three different flats – so when Turei got a new flat she chose to rent more rooms than she needed, with the implication that she was planning to rort the system several times.

From Stuff:  Greens co-leader Metiria Turei won’t report woman committing benefit fraud

At her party’s annual conference earlier this month Turei make a risky admission while launching a major policy to dismantle the Government’s welfare reforms, dramatically hike the benefit and remove nearly all sanctions and obligations to collect it.

Turei told party supporters she had lied about her living situation to Work and Income (WINZ) while she was collecting the Domestic Purposes Benefit.

While she’s willing to pay the money back, Turei stands by her decision to commit benefit fraud, which she says she did in order to “take care of my baby”.

It doesn’t appear that it was simply a matter of not being to be able to by enough food one week so she got in a flatmate.

On Tuesday Turei confirmed she had met with a woman while travelling in the South Island last week who told her about a flatmate with a baby “who is doing exactly what I did”.

“She’s trying very hard to be the best Mum she can be but she isn’t telling WINZ about all her flatmates and I won’t condemn her.”

“I’ve had people come and disclose to me their circumstances and I’ll never abuse that trust. What I will do is fix the system so they never have to lie again.”

Turei said she is supporting this woman in trying to be “the best mother she can be” by defrauding the state.

This sounds like condoning wider benefit fraud, but Turei wants to do more than approve, she wants the slate wiped clean presumably for all levels of benefit fraud. In Parliament yesterday:

Metiria Turei: When so many stories of people being driven into poverty and despair by the broken welfare system have emerged in this last week, will she instruct the MSD to hold an amnesty for every current beneficiary—

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Oh! Now we get to it.

Metiria Turei: —for every current beneficiary, so not me, Minister—so that they can talk to Work and Income about—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Would the member complete her question. It is a very long question.

Metiria Turei:—so that they can talk to Work and Income about their full entitlement without risking investigation or financial punishment?

She is proposing an amnesty for every current beneficiary, apparently no matter what level of fraud they may have committed, and no matter how desperate or calculated the fraud was.

From Mending the Safety Net – Metiria Turei’s speech to the Green Party 2017 AGM:

No beneficiary should have to live with the threat of losing the money the need for the rent.

So, the Green Party in government will immediately remove all financial sanctions and obligations that treat beneficiaries as criminals and second-class citizens.

That includes the sexist, punitive section 70A, which cuts women’s benefits if they can’t or won’t name the father of their child.

But also, the constant demands to prove you still have a disability, piles of job application rejections, having to get budget advice over and over because your winter power bill is too high, risking half your benefit if you miss your appointment because your child is sick.

And it includes the intrusive interrogation of a sole parent trying to find a life partner.

Under this government, sole parents, mostly women, are forced to reveal the most intimate details of their lives – who she’s sleeping with and how many times a week, under the threat of losing the money her and her kids rely on to pay the rent.

In my books, that’s discrimination. It’s persecution. And it’s wrong.

Women will no longer be threatened by WINZ simply because they are trying to form a loving relationship that benefits them and their children.

A good government, a decent government, does not use the threat of poverty as a weapon against the poor.  Not now, not ever – and under a Green Government, never again!

So no problem about fraud in the past and no questions asked in the future.

Turei has just spoken with Guyon Espiner on RNZ, that interview will be worth checking out further.

Espiner asks her about standing for Parliament twice during this period (for the McGillicuddy Serious Party in 1993 and Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis in 1996) but Turei says that beneficiaries should be able to have some fun.

Turei says that if benefits are generous enough fraud won’t be necessary to survive, and only serious cases will need to be dealt with.

I don’t think it is that clear cut or simple.

Turei means well, there are serious issues that deserve attention, but there are problems with what she is condoning and proposing.

Turei’s confession risk, but will it be effective?

Yesterday Metiria Turei confessed that as a beneficiary she lied to WINZ about having flatmates to get more benefit – she says it was necessary to support her and her daughter as she studied law at university.

There has been a big and a very mixed reaction.

I think that it’s fairly well known that fibbing to WINZ isn’t uncommon, over flatmates or over whether you are living alone or with a partner.

I doubt that Turei is at much risk of being investigated and prosecuted for something from twenty years ago.

She will no doubt be supported on this by her supporters.

It’s much harder to judge whether she will increase votes for the Greens. She could and probably will both pick up and lose votes.

The media reaction so far has been largely sympathetic and therefore positive.

Isaac Davidson: Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei’s benefit fraud confession risky but effective

Turei’s personal story at least refocused attention onto what is an ambitious policy to address poverty in New Zealand. All benefits would be lifted by 20 per cent, beneficiaries would be able to earn more without being penalised, and the bottom tax rate would be cut.

So in the end, Greens spent their election-year conference talking not about Labour and NZ First, but about their core, defining issues – poverty and climate change. And that’s something that looked unlikely a few days ago.

Stacey Kirk: Metiria Turei makes a risky admission, politically and legally

She’s revealed that while she was a solo mother on the DPB, studying law and looking after a baby, she was also lying to her WINZ case worker about how many people she was flatting with, and so, what her accommodation costs actually were.

Turei says she has no idea how much she could be liable for, and whether or not the Ministry of Social Development could still launch an investigation, more than 20 years later.

Turei said she believes benefit dependency doesn’t exist, and very few set out to defraud the system – their circumstances, constructed by the state, give them little option.

The Greens co-leader’s story is one of determination and hard work, however. It would be a mean-spirited person who accused her of intentionally setting out to rip off taxpayers.

I think this is quite a contentious and complex issue. It is very tricky territory effectively approving of what she did as not ripping off the taxpayer.

As far as the party is concerned, this speaks to their core base. Where the Greens have tried for years to downplay their most left of leanings, play up their economic credentials, some core Greenies may have been getting concerned at just what the modern Green caucus was prepared to give up to get into Government.

The danger, however, will be whether this does work to scare some Labour voters – cautious of an alliance that could alienate most of middle New Zealand.

In Turei’s startling admission and vow, to significantly bolster the role of the welfare state, she’s counting on New Zealanders to not only voice concern over inequality, but to collectively do something about it that may go against the nature of their very core.

She’s effectively drawing an ideological line in the sand and asking New Zealanders: “Which side are you on?”

I don’t think it’s that simple. It’s very tricky suggesting that if you are hard up then breaking the law is justified.

Is burglary justified for poor people? A key difference is that one is just defrauding ‘the state’, while the other adversely impacts on individual people.

But it’s the kids that cop the consequences

A difficult situation was raised on The Nation this morning – a policy where mothers who don’t name the father of their children gets less benefit.

The Nation: Lisa Owen interviews Andrew Becroft

Lisa Owen: Well, seeing as we’re talking about benefits, there is more than 13,000, and they’re mainly women, who are currently getting their benefits docked because they name or won’t name the father of their child. That equates to 17,000 children who are missing out because that money’s not in the benefit every week. Do you think that that is a policy that puts kids at the centre?

Andrew Becroft: No. I don’t. In fact, we gave to this government three, what we thought, were doable improvements that would improve the position of children at the most disadvantaged end. That was one of them – to remove that obligation.

Lisa Own: So, you believe that those sanctions – because there’s an opportunity to do it, as that piece of legislation is under review – so you do you think that they should can that? That it’s too punitive for kids?

Andrew Becroft: In principle, I don’t think it’s child-centred or child-focused. And whatever the rationale for it, it disadvantages kids and it’s not good for children.

If the welfare of the children is paramount, then this seems a draconian and punitive policy that is certain to adversely affect the kids.

Of course children not knowing who their father is is not a great situation either.

Neither is it good that fathers don’t take responsibility for the care and provision of their children.

On Thursday the Herald had an article about this with an eye raising example:  Sanction hurting solo mums by reducing benefit for not naming father

Parents who don’t legally identify the other parent have $22 deducted every week for each child. A further $6 per family is added if it continues for over 13 weeks.

Auckland woman Stephanie, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, can’t prove the father of five of her 10 children. She gets $116 deducted from her benefit every week.

Wow on both counts – the lack of proof of fatherhood of 5 of ten children, and the $116 deduction.

She said the father of four of her children has denied he is their parent. The 33-year-old is currently pursuing court action to get a paternity test. The father of her youngest child claimed he hasn’t had the birth registration papers delivered to his house for him to sign.

Stephanie said it was like the Government was punishing her and her children, when the blame sat with the fathers.

Instead it was her and her babies that went without food and clothing and struggled to make ends meet.

“Caring for them isn’t hard, but financially it is. We can’t afford heaps of things.

A certain amount of the blame is certainly with the fathers. A father should take responsibility for the care of their children, full stop.

But I don’t like the threat of a reduction of a benefit being used as stick to try to force revealing who the parent is. It shouldn’t have to come to this (parents’ responsibility), but it is also not a good way to deal with it.

But a mother who has 10 children with what sounds like at least three fathers has to take a big dollop of responsibility too.

Men have to take some responsibility for birth control if they have sex.

But the ultimate responsibility has to be with the mother. Once a woman becomes pregnant it can be her sole responsibility whether she has the baby or not.

I think it’s fair to question the responsibility of having ten children and relying on the benefit to support them. It seems an extraordinary situation.

The mother has to take some responsibility for being a solo parent – as do the fathers.

A Ministry of Social Development spokeswoman said the policy was introduced in 1990 to encourage the other parent to take responsibility and contribute to the cost of raising their child.

“If a person does not apply for Child Support or identify the other paying parent, their benefit rate will be reduced.”

The spokeswoman said an exemption can be granted for reasons such as family violence concerns, the pregnancy being a result of sexual violation and insufficient evidence being available to establish who the other parent is.

But Cole said an exemption was difficult to obtain and meant the beneficiary had to disclose their sexual history to a lawyer and then retell that story in an open-plan Winz office.

I think that’s putting sole parents in an awful situation.

But some people – both mothers and fathers – put their children in awful situations through a lack of responsibility, restraint or contraception.

This is something that has no easy solutions. The kids are the ones who will suffer – from a lack of money and from a lack of parent.

 

Blenheim mother of three

Stuff posted an article this morning on Blenheim mother-of-three struggling to survive since coming off the benefit.

There’s been a lot of comment and some corrections.

A low wage worker says there is no incentive to get off the benefit.

A number of people pointed out that wanting to earn a living and be self-sufficient is a good incentive to get off the benefit.

A struggling solo mum in Blenheim is only $34 better off a week since she came off the benefit and got a job.

The 48-year-old said Marlborough’s low wage economy meant it was harder for people to enter the workforce.

But this isn’t about being harder to enter the workforce, she asks…

“When you weigh it up, is it worth going to work?

If you weight it up on purely financial criteria then some more money with the prospects of quite a bit more is still worth it for many people.

The early childhood teacher, who worked 29 hours a week, earned $21.90 an hour, just more than the living wage set at $19.25.

There is no set living wage. The minimum wage is $14.75.

She received $580 a week when she was on benefits looking after her three dependent children aged 10, 15 and 17.

Her new job, which she also juggled with studying for a bachelor in early childhood education, paid $614 a week after her student fees were taken out.

And less if PAYE tax and ACC Earner Premium are taken out:

Gross pay: 635.10
PAYE: 92.30
ACC: 9.21
Student Loan: 32.17
Take home pay: 501.42

She missed qualifying for a working for family support benefit by one working hour.

But it’s been pointed out that that is incorrect. A comment at Stuff:

Based on the information supplied she qualifies for both the working for families tax credit weekly as well as the “In work tax credit”

– Copied and pasted from the IRD website = “In-work tax credit Paid to families with dependent children18 or younger who work the required hours each week”” “To get this payment, couples must work at least 30 hours a week between them, and single parents must work at least 20 hours a week.” – by working 29 hours she qualifies.

David Farrar works out how much that is at Kiwiblog:

According to the IRD calculator if she is working more than 20 hours a week she should receive $239 a week in family tax credits and $60 a week for in-work tax credits which is $299 a week on top of the $614 from her job.

No, I think it will be on top of her take home pay of 501.42, which comes to $800 per week.

“There is that stigma attached to being on the benefit and many believe that you are just a bludger,” she said.

If weighing up whether earning money is worth it then yes, that’s a risk.

“Children are my passion. I wanted to better myself and get a job in early childhood education.

“I was shocked I was only $34 better off a week. I thought I would be $100 better off. That’s huge when you are only earning $600 a week.

“We make do with what we have got. My children don’t go without. We don’t eat the flashest of foods but they get fresh fruit and vegetables.

“I am too proud to ask for help. It’s really hard to say I don’t have any money.”

Except that she has apparently volunteered her story to a journalist.

“We don’t have many treats. We are lucky if we have a takeaway every three months. It’s not part of our budget.

“It’s quite depressing, you just have to deal with it.

“The kids pick up on it. They are sick of being poor and having no money.”

Striving to work and earn money for yourself is something kids can pick up on too. If the seventeen year old is sick of being poor they could at least try to find holiday work. Many seventeen year olds earn money for themselves.

She would not give up her job to go back on the benefit.

“I love my job. It makes me feel rewarded.”

So why does she ask if it is worth it?

It’s hard to work out what the motive for this story is.

I hope she considers checking out her eligibility for family tax credits and in work tax credits.

And I hope the journalist who wrote this checks things out a bit better.

Benefit dependency high but reducing

A Stuff article Future welfare bill ‘cut by $7.5b focusses on reductions in spending but it includes some sobering statistics on inter-generational welfare dependency.

Among some of the most startling statistics, are figures which show the effect of inter-generational welfare dependence.

New methods of data collection have allowed the ministry to track trends of young beneficiary recipients whose parents have also collected welfare.

The limited history of the data means only welfare recipients up to the age of 25 could be tracked.

Notable statistics:

  • 75% of the liability is attributable to clients that first entered benefits under the age of 20.
  • 74% of all beneficiaries up to the age of 25 had a parent on the benefit while they were a child
  • 35% had a parent on benefit throughout their teenage years
  • 88% of Youth Benefit clients came from families where one or more parent was also on a benefit
  • More than half of those had an “intensive beneficiary” as a parent – one who was on a benefit for more than 80 per cent of the time their child was aged 13-18
  • a client whose parent was intensively in the system during ages 13-18 was then 48% more likely to remain on JS-WR (job seeker – work ready) after a year compared to those clients matched to a non-beneficiary parent. Their exits were also less sustainable; on leaving the system, they were 11% more likely to be back on benefits within two years.

However these figures are dropping, with Jobseekers down by 8% overall since new initiatives were implemented in 2012 (and the economy improved).

Reforms have helped slash the forecast cost of New Zealand’s total welfare bill by $7.5 billion within the past year, a report says.

The estimated liability of the welfare system is now $69b, down from $76.5b in 2013, according to the latest valuation of the future costs faced by the Ministry of Social Development.

Based on New Zealand’s current situation – which includes rates of employment, inflation and trends of decreasing welfare dependence – that is forecast to drop a further $5.3b by 2019, according to independent consultants Taylor Fry.

From the Key Findings:

Welfare Reforms and Future Focus Impacts included in the Valuation

  • Impact from Welfare Reform changes that occurred from July 2013 onwards, including:
    – Simplification of the benefit structure in July 2013
  • Continuing Impact from Welfare Reform changes that occurred from July/August 2012 onwards, including:
    – implementation of the Youth Service in August 2012
    – introduction of Job Streams in July 2012
    – Bill 1 changes to work expectations for sole parents, partners of main beneficiaries, widows, and women alone effective October 2012
    – A new service delivery model, with the level of case management tailored to clients’ likelihood of long-term benefit receipt
  • Continuing impact from Future Focus changes from September 2010 onwards:
    – a new requirement for Unemployment Benefit (UB) recipients to reapply for the benefit and complete a comprehensive work assessment interview every 52 weeks;
    – introduction of part-time work obligations for parents with youngest child 6 or older
    – new budgeting obligations for clients who repeatedly apply for hardship assistance
  • Additional Future Focus changes from May 2011 to:
    – require Sickness Benefit (SB) recipients to attend a reassessment interview with a case manager after 52 weeks
    – require new SB recipients to undergo additional medical assessment after 8 weeks

Stuff reports that about 30% of the reduction is due to Government/Ministry initiatives:

Of the $7.5 billion reduction, $2.2 billion was directly attributed to reforms within the ministry – both legislative and policy changes, as well as operational changes.

The rest was down to factors outside the ministry’s control, which included the falling rate of unemployment that accounted for a further $2.2b drop. It was forecast that more people would come off benefits and there would be less people applying for them.

Not sold on benefit cuts

I’m uneasy about the policy of threatening to cut benefits in half in parents don’t comply with ‘obligations’. I agree with RRM’s sentiment “war on crap parents who suck at what they do and need a kick up the arse.” But I have my doubts they have the right sort of kick here.

The policy announced by Social Development Minister Paula Bennett yesterday…

… will apply from July to 31,500 children, aged 3 and 4, whose parents are either on sole parent or couple benefits.

Parents will have their benefits halved if they fail to take “all reasonable steps” to:

  • Attend early childhood education 15 hours a week from age 3.
  • Attend school from age 5 or 6.
  • Enrol with a general practitioner.
  • Complete Well Child checks.

And they expect 1300 families to have their benefits cut:

A Cabinet paper estimates that about 2200 beneficiary families might fail the test each year, of which 1300 might fail to comply immediately and have their benefits halved.

I’m all for encouraging and coercing slack parents into meeting basic obligations.

And I think it’s important to try and address problems with kids while they are young, if they can be identified and fixed early it could solve a lot of problems that occur far too often later in life.

But halving a benefit seems to me to be far too draconian. I think we have to find a better way, like incentives for compliance – provided that doesn’t disadvantage the majority of beneficiary parents who do their best for their children.

No benefit if on arrest warrant

Government plans to stop benefits of anyone who has an outstanding arrest warrant has not surprisingly been controversial. Some have hailed it as “why wasn’t this happening already”, some have condemned it as diversionary and another beneficiary bash.

Different sides argue this on Kiwiblog – Half of those with arrest warrants on a benefit – and from here at The Standard. The Standard has just startedtopic on this which will build comments today – Trouble? Re-announce a distraction…

I see Paula Benefit is up to her old tricks again. As the government desperately wants to be doing something other than not attending huis over water rights, it’s up to Paula to pull a benefit bash. But she’s obviously run out of ideas so now we’re re-announcing the old bene-bashes.

Kiwiblog reports on the stats:

“Of the approximately 15,000 people with a current arrest warrant, around 8,200 are on benefits,” says Mrs Bennett.

A lawyer who’s a regular on Kiwiblog comments and answers some queries:

  1. F E Smith  Says:
    September 5th, 2012 at 6:14 pm That low, huh?  I thought it would be a greater proportion than that.By the way, I think it is a fantastic policy.  Should have been implemented years ago.

    Are there checks to ensure the people concerned know that there is an arrest warrant for them?

    In my experience, 98% of people subject of a WTA are fully aware of it.  Of those who weren’t, many at some point were aware of it but then forgot about it.  Often Corrections will be the most likely organisation to apply for a warrant in lieu of service, which means that almost all of those people should be aware that there will be charges coming for not complying with a sentence.

    The person receiving the benefit is the same person with the arrest warrant and not just someone with a similar name

    Well, that does happen, but not very often.  The level of incidence is so low, in my opinion, as to be able to be discounted.

    because now, those crims who have their benefits cut will return to crime to feed themselves.

    Gee, if you believe this then I have a good sized bridge in Auckland to sell you.  In my experience there is very little crime out of necessity, especially the necessity to feed oneself or one’s dependants.  Very, very little.  On the other hands, there are quite a number of people receiving a benefit who continue a life of crime quite happily.

And…

  1. F E Smith Says:
    September 5th, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    FES – how much if any effect will removing benefits be likely to have on offending of individuals?

    Oh, take their benefit off them and they will scream!  I expect it to be quite effective, to be honest.

And another view…

  1. tristanb Says:
    September 5th, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    Inky: Are there checks to ensure the people concerned know that there is an arrest warrant for them?

    No. There’s no checks to ensure it’s not a similar name [strong sarcasm]. WTF?! Plus they’ll find out when they don’t get their benefit! Arrest warrants aren’t things that we develop for no reason (like rashes) – you actually have to commit a crime to get one.

    You’ve just got to find something wrong with this don’t you?

    Lee C: because now, those crims who have their benefits cut will return to crime to feed themselves.

    Yes, starvation is the most common motive behind crime in NZ. That’s why people rape – because they can’t afford a MacAttack. (Also strong sarcasm.)

    You’ve never actually met a criminal have you? They’re arrogant, they get every entitlement they’re “entitled” to and more. They’re nasty and they only care about themselves – that’s why they commit crime – because they don’t consider how traumatic it is to have your windows forced, and have someone rifle through your house before stealing family heirlooms.

And another lawyer on the other side of the argument:

mickysavage

A lot of these warrants will be for unpaid fines where notices have been sent to a former address.

Even a temporary suspension of payments will cause hardship.  Many of these people are on the breadline and a temporary cut will mean they will not be able to make the next week’s rent or grocery bill.

For political gain and minimal savings Bennett intends to make it that much harder for them.  Shame on her.

And another:

Kotahi Tāne Huna

Failure and incompetence are the hallmark of the National Party, so they hide behind these distractions.

The question is: will the Labour Party come out strongly and promise to reverse this and other attacks on New Zealand’s most vulnerable citizens?

Perhaps a promise to fully compensate any person who can show that this policy caused genuine hardship?

Or will we hear about an old guy whose neighbour didn’t pay a fine?

Criminals are “New Zealand’s most vulnerable citizens”?

Don’t forget the “benefit scroungers”

A post from a different country and a different year, but I think it still makes some pertinent points.

I, for one, do not like benefit scroungers – but I really believe that the problem cannot be solved by quick and easy methods. It’s all right to say “make them work” but many of the people who live on benefits have NEVER worked. Sometimes for two or three generations.

Can you tell me who is going to employ them? If I were running a business I wouldn’t employ anyone who has never worked – people with no skills and nothing to offer. It would be a bad investment. So then people say “the government should make them work”. How? By forcing the workshy on to employers? That won’t work either.

As an employer I would bitterly resent being forced to employ someone who has never understood or participated in the work ethic. So should the government create jobs for benefit claimants? Maybe – but that would involve spending huge amounts of taxpayer’s money – at a time of cutbacks and austerity measures.

No… I’m afraid benefit scroungers are with us for some time yet. They are a lost generation.

We need to focus on youngsters who are still at school – to make sure they have the skills to be employable and to become full and valued members of society.

To an extent I agree with that.

Those who least want to work will often be those who employers least want to employ.

And we should be doing as much as we can to ensure people leave scholl with employable skills and productive aspirations.

But we shouldn’t ignore and turn our backs on those caught in benefit traps. Some may well be unlikley to ever get or jobs, we have to accept a level of unemployability, and society has a responsibility to provide support forn them.

There are people stuck on benefits, through less than helpful upbringings, bad choices or bad luck, that genuinely want to better lives for themselves.

We should be willing to help them take steps to greater self sufficiency and ambition.