Wednesday, February 17, 2010

WINZ rips off its clients

Frogbog has an interesting post about WINZ's failure to pay Temporary Additional Support. TAS is a last-ditch benefit, paid to people whose income is insufficient to meet their essential costs such as accommodation and disability support. It is therefore a vital part of the welfare safety net, protecting people from falling completely into poverty.

According to statistic obtained from WINZ by the Beneficiaries Advocacy Federation, 82,519 beneficiaries are listed on SWIFT (WINZ's computer system) as having insufficient income and therefore being eligible for TAS. But WINZ only pays 47,878 of them. The others - 34,641 people, more than 40% of the total - miss out.

This is absolutely unacceptable. WINZ's job is to make sure that everyone gets the assistance they are entitled to. And they are simply not doing it. And as a result, almost 35,000 of our most vulnerable citizens are left to fend for themselves.

Frog argues that Social Development Minister Paula Bennett should focus a little less on the few who are ripping off the system, and a little more on how the system rips off the many. I agree entirely.