Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Reapplying for the dole hardly a "radical proposal"

According to the Dominion Post;

The Government is considering cancelling unemployment benefits after a year and forcing beneficiaries to reapply.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett unveiled the radical proposal a day after revelations that 300 long-term beneficiaries are receiving more than $1000 a week from the taxpayer.

It was revealed yesterday that the Harris family in Christchurch had received unemployment and sickness benefits for 25 years and recently received special-needs grants from Work and Income to fence their swimming pool and put new tyres on their 2007 Chrysler saloon.

Of course somebody should have to reapply for the dole if they have been on it a year. But reviews of the recipient's situation should be ongoing. Motivated people, however, aren't the problem. Currently 88 percent of those receiving the dole have been on it less than a year, so only a small percentage would be subjected to a reapplication process.

Paula Bennett's latest suggestion is apparently a reaction to the Harris family. But he wasn't on the dole. He was on a sickness benefit. His case manager had refused an application on the basis of stress, diagnosed by his GP. But after Harris visited a Work and Income 'designated doctor' (paid $106 for each appraisal) he was assessed as addicted to cannabis and granted the benefit he wanted. Thus he would have successfully navigated his way through a reapplication process.

There are over 140,000 people on an invalid or sickness benefit but only 60,000 are on the dole. The numbers seriously suggest that the incapacity benefits are in many cases a de facto dole. It is the case manager who makes the final decision about eligibility. But the doctors provide the certificates, the tacit approval. Any doctor who might be inclined to take a tougher line would probably steer a mile clear of becoming a designated doctor, which is where 'complicated' applicants will end up.

Many case managers have come from the ranks of beneficiaries and are sympathetic; and quite a lot of doctors are inclined towards being socialistic. Those who would take a less compromising line are not motivated to get involved. In fact, we have seen instances of GPs refusing to deal with applicants for certificates required for the purposes of benefit eligibility.

Therein lies the problem.


krazykiwi (formerly getstaffed) said...

Our welfare state needs a complete overhaul - not soundbite-friendy tinkering at the edges as we've had for several decades. But we first need a government of principle. Not hold my breath

Anonymous said...

Well it's half a good policy:

The Government is considering cancelling unemployment benefits after a year

This half is good - albeit a year too late -

and forcing beneficiaries to reapply.

And this half is utter, utter crap. Yeah, the only win is humiliation for the bludgers - or would be in any normal society. But it will just mean more fucking civil servants to handle yet more applications.

Just zero the dole. Not after a year - before a single cent is paid out. And every single problem goes away

Anonymous said...

on my way downtown town to the dole office and gunna ask for them to pay the cost of my 50.000K service for my regular ride. if they dont front with the folding there might not be any drinkies at home this festive season.

I hope I havent left it to late......


Manolo said...

I'll believe it the day I see it.

At this time I don't trust neither Key nor his ministers. So far, they have behaved like wimps and cowards.

Anonymous said...

I used to live next door to a woman who was on ACC and unable to work due to a bad back. However, her bad back did not prevent her from riding horses, grubbing thistles, milking cows and working for cash in a glasshouse. The worst thing I think though is that when she needed a new medical certificate for ACC she would make an appointment with the local doctor. The receptionist would take her form through to the doctor while she sat in the waiting room. The doctor would sign the medical certificate saying she was unable to work without even sighting her, less alone assessing her injury. 30 seconds work and he would also have charged ACC for the "consultation".

Anonymous said...

In 85 i was seriously injured in a sky-diving accident. Self employed, Married with two young children I discovered my ACC compensation amounted to 89 dollars a week.

My next door neighbour, single and on a sickness benefit was getting 130 dollars a week.

I survived.