Most of us have little choice but to rely on statistics to build a picture of what is happening at Work and Income. Accordingly, anecdotal evidence has some value, especially when it is from the normally gagged front line. Despite it being secondhand I can only trust that it is genuine. Transcribed from NewstalkZB’s Week on Demand (Jan 27, 8.30 am segment, starts at 7.15) it begins with Mike Yardley reading out a text or email from a listener and then refers to an Official Information Request of mine (I believe):
“Good morning Mike, My partner works for Work and Income and she says there has definitely been a culture change with respect to client obligations and the whole benefit system has ground to a halt hence why you are seeing the massive rises in the Jobseeker/Work-Ready benefit numbers. My partner says that if you are on a benefit now you can basically stay there indefinitely because Work and Income case managers are not tuning you up. My partner says that she feels her job is now just like an ATM paying out money willy-nilly. There is not the case management there used to be,” says Dave.
“Which is an interesting point because I know there was an Official Information request on this very matter in the last few weeks and apparently, according to Work and Income they are now only spending – these are case managers – about 20% of their time helping people on a benefit into work or ensuring they are work-ready or doing some training, looking at other options…just generally trying to get them onto a more independent and productive footing. And apparently this collapse in how much time they are spending with that sort of work-focused case management is because they are doling out so many hardship assistance grants and having to wade through so many applications. I think the figures out on Thursday from MSD say there were 537,000 [573,000] hardship assistance grants given out in the last year.”
Mike Yardley has also penned an opinion piece, Benefit numbers betray Labour’s posturing on well-being.
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