Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Welfare checks de ja vu

MSD are apparently going to begin "home visits" to sole parent support beneficiaries to check whether they are indeed single.

But they intend conducting them 14 weeks after application. So only new applicants are scrutinised? 14 months or 14 years after any application would probably reveal more fraud.

In any case even if they find the beneficiary is living with a partner there are a number of ways she can challenge having her benefit stopped. Just read up on the Ruka Ruling in the MSD manual.

I don't particularly like this state snooping stuff (but can accept the legitimacy of it). It's been done before in 1980 under George Gair, a National Minister and sparked outrage then, with an Evening Post headline, BENEFIT CHECKERS DENY 'GESTAPO' TAG.

Here's the thing. If the benefit was strictly time-limited, if everybody had clear expectations that the degree and amount of assistance was tightly controlled and not open-ended (it effectively remains so despite the reforms) then the need to police welfare in this manner would disappear.

And Sue Moroney makes an utterly redundant comment:
But Labour social development spokeswoman Sue Moroney said the visits would be "complete overkill", levelling suspicion at people who had done nothing wrong. "If only they would put their money into putting people into paid employment, rather than bringing in the thought police," she said.
The "thought police"? What has freedom of speech and expression got to do with people defrauding the taxpayer? MSD aren't checking if beneficiaries are thinking about fraud; they are checking whether they are committig it.

Update: More de ja vu regarding "home visits". I was just reflecting on the following which I wrote some years ago:

The Ministry of Social Development’s procedural policy requires staff home visits to beneficiaries be in pairs due to security concerns.  During 2001/02 however, an experimental project involved unaccompanied home visits to discourage the pursuit of a benefit application.  On this occasion, staff members were trained to use cell phones for security, not make home visits out of cell phone range and to leave the property at the first sign of danger.  Some case managers declined to participate.

Evaluation of Avenues: A Pilot of a Modified Domestic Purposes Benefit-Sole parent Application Process, Ministry of Social Development, June 2003


Anonymous said...

open-ended (it effectively remains so despite the reforms)

well at least you admit the so-called "reforms" haven't made any difference. The truth is that if there any any discretion in the system, it will be abused.

The only solution is to stop the benefits. Stop all of them. Stop them for current bludgers and in the future.

And then, and only then, will people learn they cannot trust "government"

Anonymous said...

If Sue Moroney wants to see *real* "thought police" she only has to visit the UK. Over there, the police are seeking a person who made a comment about Muslims while on a bus. I kid you not.

That is how bad the police state has become in the UK.

S. Beast said...

The search function of this blog is shitty. I tried searching for "home visits" to find the post to which you refer. Have given up and going to the source document.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

S Beast, I didn't write that passage on this blog. Nor did I say I had.