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Bennett's MONSTER bill to lash out at the poor, sick and disabled

in

The Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill 67-1

This new, 191 page long, bill can be found under the following link:

http://www.legislation.govt.nz/bill/government/2012/0067/latest/DLM4542304.html

The new proposed benefit regime is intended to come into force from 15 July 2013, and it contains legal provisions under which the OUTSOURCING of assessments on beneficiaries for work capacity, of “work preparation exercises” and of “administrative services” will be made possible to private non government agencies and service providers.


There are obligations for ALL beneficiaries, incl. beneficiary parent(s) and caregiver(s):

A NEW section 60 GAG by section 39 of Act to place obligation of beneficiary to work with “service providers”;

● Sanctions can be imposed under section 117 if client fails to comply with this;

Attendance of “work preparation exercises” can be expected under section 60Q;

● See also section 125A (amended) re contracts with “administration service providers”.


Sole Parent Support:

● This new, more restrictive benefit is covered by new sections 20A to 20H;

● already announced “social obligations” will be expected.

 

Supported Living Payment:

● The new benefit that can be granted on grounds of sickness, injury or disability, and which is supposed to replace the invalid’s benefit, is covered by sections 40A to 40K;

● Supporting living payment recipients exempted ONLY if terminally ill, or if found to be suffering from conditions that are likely to deteriorate or “not improve”;

 

Consequential Amendments:

Re “supported living payment” benefit – see clause 88 re some changes in schedule 6 for present IB

 

Drug Testing Obligations:

and easily WINZ will place such obligations on job-seeker beneficiaries that are asked to have drug tests done on them for jobs where employers require this;

● A 50 per cent cut to the benefit can be imposed if a client/applicant fails such a drug;

● section 12J is to be amended to limit rights of appeals to the Appeal Authority if “medical” reasons are given (see sections 116C and 102B) for failing drug tests;

● WINZ will “compensate” employers for costs of drug tests where clients “fail” to pass them, and will then reclaim those costs from the clients (!);

● Beneficiaries who fail an initial drug test will also have to pay for re-compliance drug tests;

 

Social Obligations by beneficiary parents:

a) Enrol newborns with GP;

b) Participate in ECE;

c) Ensure attendance of school by children in their care

 

Stopping benefit payments for clients who face a warrant of arrest after 28 days of issue:

● 10 days notice, then a “cut” of the benefit can and will be imposed;

 

● an immediate “stop” is imposed if a beneficiary - against whom a warrant has been issued - poses a “serious risk to the public”

 

Disability Allowance changes and other ‘preferred supplier arrangements’:

● Possible “preferred supplier arrangements” for “procurement of goods and services” for welfare recipients in certain circumstances (see s 69C and also sections 125AA and 132AD);

● Under section 82 the C.E. can determine payment to preferred supplier or beneficiary for goods or services required as advance or special assistance needs (see also section 125AA);

● See also section 124 (1BA) for further provisions re “special assistance”.

 

Regulations:

● Section 132AD provides for regulations that can set harsher standards and criteria for how “disability allowance” funds paid to beneficiaries are to be used for “specified expenses”;

● Other sub-sections under section 132 provide for regulations to be made for the granting, expiry and re-granting “specified benefits” and so forth.

 

Re Application for Benefits:

● New sections 11E and 11H for “job seeker support” (incl. sick, injured, disabled) applicants, setting out “pre benefit activities” expected of them; new sections 11G and 11H set out consequences for applicants “failing” to meet such “activities” (incl. their spouse/partner);

● All beneficiaries appear to have to re-apply for their specified benefits (after 12 months);

● See also new sections 80BE and 80 BF re expiry, re-granting and so.

 

Work Ability Assessments:

● Section 88F sets out job seeker obligations for seeking employment, and under 88F (2) the C.E. must determine the capacity to work for a job seeker - granted that support because of sickness, injury or disability; this basically allows the C.E. to “over rule” medical based assessments (in some forms)! 

● Hence a “deferral” for “job seekers” is discretionary and based on C.E.’s determinations;

● Section 88H (2) allows job seeker (with sickness, injury or disability) to “apply” for “deferral”.

● New sections 100B and 100C to require beneficiaries to attend and participate in work ability assessments (virtually ALL beneficiaries);

● Section 100B (4) leaves it to the C.E. to determine the way such assessments are conducted;

● Procedure(s) for doing this are determined by the C.E. or her/his staff (!!!)

● Section 100C also leaves it up to the C.E. to determine appropriate times and frequencies of re-assessments!

The existing medical appeal rights to a ‘Medical Board’ will in future be covered by a new section 10B (re-enacting section 53A), it changed only a bit

 

Sanctions:

● New sections 116B and 116C replace existing sections 115 and 116A for imposing sanctions of beneficiaries not meeting a range of obligations;

● Other sections address matters how other sanctions for non compliance are imposed;

● Section 116C (2) lists some exemptions from sanctions to be imposed for failing drug testing, like drug dependency, medication that is prescribed and needs to be taken by a client


Abatement:

A harsh abatement regime under section 88B (6) for jobseeker support (52 week earnings to benefit comparison); so if a person earns as much as she/he could get on a benefit within 52 weeks, that may mean, NO benefit, as a client/applicant may be expected to “save” and provide for unforeseen job-loss.


Ineligibility:

Section 88D penalises unemployed “job seeker” beneficiaries if “fellow workers” (of a union the client/applicant belongs to), caused industrial action (strikes) leading to resulting “unemployment”. This basically makes it yet more difficult to defend worker’s rights.

 

Appeal rights denied in certain cases:

When it comes to forms of certain payments of advances, of disability allowance costs and some other “special assistance”, there is NO right to appeal WINZ decisions!

 

This bill is a MONSTER bill, not only due to some controversial, excessively harsh provisions; it is so overly complex, it will be impossible to properly implement and apply in praxis. It further “over-amends” an old Act that has previously received endless amendments. The proposed changes make the Social Security Act extremely difficult to use and apply, as it is very difficult to do this already. Staff will face an administrative nightmare to use the law after all these changes. It would have been a better solution to bring in a whole new statute!

 

Ultimately all this will just re-enforce the reality we have already: That beneficiaries are second class, stigmatised and disowned citizens and residents in this country.

Comments

This is particularly nasty:

[quote]


Section 88D penalises unemployed “job seeker” beneficiaries if “fellow workers” (of a union the client/applicant belongs to), caused industrial action (strikes) leading to resulting “unemployment”. This basically makes it yet more difficult to defend worker’s rights.


[/quote]


Hmmmmm might be time for all of us who have the spare time to spend a little more time shuffling around town with sandwich boards, publicising our willingness to work for a fair and tolerant society.


Its a class war, alright.


Sounds like the upper-classes are trying to keep us too stoned to care.


But a night on the piss and a ransack of a WINZ office is only a word away. Seriously, when the piss gets down to the bottom of the barrel, one word, and its all on ... I found that out by mistake once (still a bit embarrassed by it).  It really is so easy to motivate one's friends once they've had skinful.  Everything and anything is fun ... Bit of a worry, isn't it, that such times of tremendous potential are upon us.  And who's fault is it?


Can we rise up now and take back our Parliament? Please? And when the WTO tells us that we just have to do it their way because previous governments have signed international agreements without our consent, well, we'll just have to tell them "No," won't we? 


Lets advocate unilateral withdrawl in principle with a willingness to renegotiate practical considerations - each and every clause to be exposed to public scrutiny.  No secret trade pacts, no loss of sovereignty, all up front the way it should have been done from the first.


If you were deep with your lady having a little quality time you'd do the same, wouldn't you?