Author Topic: Unemployed losing the paper war in reapplying for the benefits, says Labour  (Read 1835 times)


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Unemployed losing the paper war in reapplying for the benefits, says Labour
Last updated 05:00, July 10 2015

Lawrence Smith/Fairfax NZ
Labour's social development spokeswoman Carmel Sepuloni says too many beneficiaries are falling through the cracks.

Vulnerable groups of unemployed people are being lost in a sea of complicated paperwork and having their benefits cut, says Labour.

Insufficient data was also allowing the Government to boost its welfare figures, while washing its hands of a large group of people, said Labour's social development spokeswoman Carmel Sepuloni.

But Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said Work and Income could not be held responsible for people failing to reapply for their benefit.

Don Scott
Social Development Minister Anne Tolley says the ministry can't chase up every beneficiary who doesn't reapply.

Nor could it continue to pay the benefit once the deadline for yearly reapplication lapsed.

Figures released by Tolley, in response to questions from Sepuloni, showed 11,693 people had their benefit cancelled because they had not reapplied in the year ended March 31.

Of the 11,693, only 2441 (20 per cent) had their benefit cut because they obtained work. An additional 599 people exited the benefit, being categorised as full-time students, while 303 left New Zealand, 127 had a change in marital status and 31 died.

That left 8192 people (70 per cent) who had their benefits cancelled as a result of the Jobseeker application process but were not categorised in any of the main classifications.

But after media inquiries Tolley released a further clarification to the figures, saying 4916 failed to reapply, and so had their benefits revoked.

"People on Jobseeker Support must attend a reapplication appointment to complete the 52 week reapplication process on or before the expiry date of their Jobseeker Support, unless they have exceptional circumstances. If a client does not do this, their benefit will stop," Tolley said.

Sepuloni said there was a growing number of people who were not only unemployed but receiving no support.

"The whole Winz culture has made it so difficult that some people are not even reapplying, or if they are reapplying, they're having difficulty with things like paperwork.

"Winz is not keeping count of how many people have had their benefit cancelled because they didn't supply the right paperwork.

"Those are really important details. Because otherwise we have a really, really vulnerable group of people out there that have no income coming in whatsoever - that's the concern."

Sepuloni said there was no real focus on getting people into employment.

"It really is just benefit reduction for the sake of benefit reduction, and vulnerable people are being placed in more of a vulnerable position, by not having any income."

But Tolley said a certain amount of personal responsibility was required.

On March 31, 116,893 people were receiving Jobseeker Support. In the 12 months to that date, 92,556 people were required to re-apply.

But there was no data around why those who did not reapply dropped off Work and Income's radar.

"There is no reason for Work and Income to continue monitoring people who have chosen not to re-apply for a benefit. MSD does not collect data on people who are no longer Work and Income clients," Tolley said.

"If people require welfare support, it is their responsibility to get in touch and provide Work and Income with information that allows them to assess a beneficiary's need.

"Once that is complete, Work and Income can provide the assistance people are eligible for."

 - Stuff