Teaching the ‘lame to game’ the system…nice…

The Media party is helping Sue Bradford publicise her attempts to teach the ‘lame to game’ the welfare system.

In the low-income Auckland suburb of Mangere, a three-day “Impact” event where beneficiaries can seek help from advocates to get their full entitlements from Work & Income has drawn to a close.

Impact is run by Auckland Action Against Poverty(AAAP) founded by Sue Bradford

“While we would be a lot happier if our work wasn’t needed, the stark reality is that every day hundreds of people are denied the full assistance to which they are entitled from Work and Income,” Bradford says.

The benefits system is complex, heavy on paperwork and rules, and benefits officers have discretion over whether to give grants, or impose punitive sanctions.

Often people interacting with complex bureaucratic systems hire experts to help, like the owners of small businesses hiring tax accountants to cope with the tax system.

By definition, beneficiaries have no money to hire help.   

They must rely either on the case officers Work and Income says will deal fairly and helpfully with everyone who comes through its doors, and volunteer benefits advocates from the likes of AAAP.

So what are the strategies people can use to ensure they get the help they need from Work and Income, and ensure they don’t stumble into being “sanctioned”, left with benefits debt, or most terrifyingly, get accused of benefit fraud?

When training benefits advocates for Impact, AAAP claimed people seeking benefits faced a culture of “harassment” and “intimidation” from Work and Income.

Ruth Bound, deputy chief executive for service delivery at the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) which runs the Work and Income service rejects that, saying staff are there to make sure people get the help they needed. In order for them to do that, all people have to do is be open and honest with case officers, she says.

Regardless of where the truth lies, asking for help can be hard, and harder for some than others. Advocates say some Pacific Island cultures do not like asking for help, and, if they fear they will be refused, don’t ask at all.

I loathe the use of the word “entitlements”.

To quote Democratic presidential contender Francis Underwood – “you are entitled to nothing”.

All Sue Bradford is doing is teaching bludgers to bludge some more.


– Fairfax


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  • Mr_Blobby

    Having had to deal with multiple and I mean multiple Government and Council departments over the last 2 years.Sometimes more than one at a time. Often the same department multiple times.

    I can fully understand why people would want to opt out of the system, for a quieter and more relaxed lifestyle.

    You get tied of contributing and funding a system that is just there to grind you down.

    • Somnambulist

      I think many well off Cantabrians had this experience for the first time in their lives in the aftermath of the 2010/11 quakes.

      The powerlessness you feel when a bureaucrat who’s done the ‘dealing with a desperate client’ course just keeps nodding and smiling while you get nowhere was a first for me, and it wasn’t very nice.

      It hasn’t turned me in to one of the ‘entitled ones’, but it sure gave me an insight into how some people might be dealt with throughout their lives. And often it’s those who are least able to stand up for themselves.

      It’s a pity that many who do claim to work on their behalf are merely using them as pawns in their loopy political games.

  • Hard1

    Bradford; “By definition, beneficiaries have no money to hire help”
    They must rely either on the case officers Work and Income says will deal fairly and helpfully with everyone who comes through its doors, and volunteer benefits advocates from the likes of AAAP.
    Absolute self-promoting nonsense.

    Community Law.

    Who do we help?
    We direct our limited resources to people in our community who are vulnerable in some way.
    We give one-on-one legal help to people who don’t have much money. We’ll ask you some questions about your financial situation. If you’re a student, a beneficiary, unemployed or on a low income, it’s likely that we can give you initial one-on-one legal help.
    We help people facing particular kinds of serious legal issues, such as Child, Youth and Family or Work and Income matters, debt or credit problems, or criminal charges.
    We also help people who are vulnerable in other ways, for example if you have trouble reading, if you’re homeless, transient or in a crisis living situation, if you come from a refugee background, if you’re adversely affected by disability, mobility issues or mental illness, or if you’re experiencing violence.

    Except, Bradford, it’s free…
    Legal problems can be serious and frightening, and for many people lawyers are completely unaffordable. But everyone has the right to high-quality legal help – that’s where Community Law comes in.
    Whether you’re struggling to keep or share your kids, finding it hard to handle WINZ, fines or debt, facing criminal charges, or dealing with a different kind of legal problem, often the first and most important step is to ask for help.

    Monday to Friday
    9am – 5pm, By appointment only

  • SavetheBees

    WINZ staff are not employed to help you. The amount of issues I have had with WINZ staff refusing to show me in the act where they determined my entitlement. I even had one case manager refused to show me my own medical report, cos of confidentially.

    Winz staff dont like dealing with people who can read, write or comprehend.

    There are the odd great winz staff member who speaks to you as a person. But on the whole I have found the more questions you ask, the worse your experience becomes.

    WINZ staff did everything they can to ensure I was not welcome there.

    • Graham Pilgrim

      I have found the opposite to be the case.

      WINZ Officers are human, and like all humans, will react and respond to certain attitudes in certain ways.

  • JustanObserver

    Sue – your ‘Utopia’ awaits on White Island.
    With an unlimited energy supply, you can generate endless amounts of green energy, keep numerous tepee warm, continuously breathe in air which is laden with psychedelic chemicals.
    On your sub-tropical island utopia you can grow all the tofu and mung-beans you can eat, not to mention all of the hemp you can spin into yarn for clothing.
    School your un-disciplined youngsters with all the beliefs you hold true and don’t allow any nasty charter schooling near your island.
    All of your chosen island population will be able to spend each blissful day ‘chanting’ to the beat of your militant drums, demanding to be heard over the din of your life-giving volcano-god and the relentless ocean tides.
    No-one shall work, no-one shall have hardship, no-one will be in poverty.
    The greatest part of all is no-one will be there long enough to realise you have held them down for years with your false-promises of betterment by holding onto anger in a queue at WINZ.
    No Sue, your ‘Utopia’ awaits you, please take as many as you can.

  • Sally

    Why not go along to the Citizen Advice Bureau. There is even one in Mangere.
    AAAP sounds like a recruitment drive by Sue Bradford for various protest marches etc.

  • Seriously?

    I don’t think we can at the same time say that people should not be begging or homeless because social welfare is sufficient, and then say that is it wrong for people to be getting what they should out of the social welfare system.

    The system is complex, and many of its “customers” are not. Some of them need help. This, in my view, is a much better use of Sue’s time than sitting in the street on whatever anti-capitalist march she can find.

  • Oh Please

    I have no problem with people being helped to get what they are entitled to. What I DO have an issue with is the lazy being entitled to anything. Benefits are necessary for certain people in certain situations – but not as a career choice.

  • KGB

    How is AAAP funded? Is SB paid by AAAP?
    Anyone know?

  • Dog Breath

    If they want to make life simplier they could go to work like everyone else.