Independence from Work and Income support

One measure that WINZ uses as a proxy indicator for full time employment is ‘Independence from Work and Income Assistance’ (p.21). The issues with this are pretty big.

As WINZ acknowledges, there are many and varied reasons why people move off benefits. Reasons range from the WINZ-advocated commencement of full-time work, through to beginning a relationship that removes entitlement, becoming a student, moving to France, moving to prison, or even death. Oddly enough, not all of these are the successful outcomes that WINZ is trying to claim when they give the numbers shifted off a benefit each quarter to Parliament.

Claiming successes like that, when they freely admit in their own literature that the reasons for people coming off the benefit are varied type and in relative positivity, is disingenuous. Anecdotally, there are plenty of stories of people losing the benefit because they became homeless, or because their doctor and the WINZ doctor disagreed, or because they started a job that didn’t pay enough to provide for them but paid too much to keep the benefit. These are not WINZ successes.

How many of these stories are there out there? Well, we don’t know, because no-one keeps count and WINZ aren’t about to start, not when they can claim that every person off the benefit is a success story attributable to their hard work.

We can’t know how deep the problem here runs. I want there to be better records, and more accountability for the people dropping through the cracks in the system and suffering for it.

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