Sunday, November 15, 2009

450 staff to investigate fraud

The Ministry of Social Development posted its annual report on Friday. It may not be intentional but website postings are nearly always made on a Friday when media are less attentive.

This annual report is typically replete with jargon and self-flattery. This super-Ministry is vast and records endless descriptions of initiatives, programmes, committees, task forces, panels, divisions, funding streams, accounting practices etc. etc. It is essentially very boring. But I will note some isolated interesting facts;

It is important New Zealanders have trust and confidence in how we deliver income support to people. We have a dedicated Integrity Services team made up of five units with 450 staff in 15 locations nationwide in the 2008/2009 year. Over the past year, we have:

* investigated more than 26,400 cases of potential benefit fraud
* compared more than 22 million records through data matching with other agencies to detect incorrect benefit payments
* been successful with 95 per cent of the benefit fraud cases we've prosecuted


We have around 300 sites that provide services to more than 1.6 million people.

About half of the adult population.

The number of jobseekers and beneficiaries grew dramatically during the year and the Unemployment Benefit numbers increased by 187 per cent. There were also significant increases in the Sickness, Invalids and Domestic Purposes Benefit numbers. In the first six months of 2009, approximately 1.15 million people attended appointments and seminars and we handled 3.4 million phone calls asking for advice or for our help.

Lots of recession-induced calls no doubt supplemented by a large dollop of 'learned helplessness'.

Over the last year we worked closely with local councils in Counties Manukau and Otahuhu where:

over 60 per cent of youth had current gang involvement
23 youth workers provided activities and programmes and individual support - over 10,500 youth were reached through over 800 events or activities
six integrated case managers dealt with individual issues for 499 youth and their families, 81 of whom have exited the programme
1,292 parents of at-risk youth in Otara and Manurewa received parenting programmes

At the same time hundreds more young mothers will have been admitted into the system with a child as a meal-ticket to a life of handouts. South Auckland bucked the national decreasing DPB trend between 2004 and 2008. At-risk youth hail predominantly, but not exclusively, from benefit-dependent homes.

Yesterday Crusader Rabbit sent me a wonderful quote which seems the most apt note on which to end this post.

"I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I traveled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer."
- Benjamin Franklin

1 comment:

brian_smaller said...

All those staff could start by checking out the men who live with dpb mums. Almost every dpb Mum who has rented a place from me, has a live in partner (husband, boyfriend).