NZCCSS review of Housing NZ and Work and Income application procedures

The New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services have released a review of the complicated processes people go through when seeking help from Housing New Zealand and Work and Income:

Don’t expect help in a hurry. In fact, ways of not getting help are really on the increase. Anyone who has had anything to do with Housing New Zealand will have noticed there seem to be more and more things you need to do before you even make it into the housing queue. First you ring the 0800 number, then if you make it through that process, you go through a full needs assessment where you have to bring a pile of evidence to prove housing need. Then and only then, do you make it to the waiting list.

Suppose you don’t just need a home, but you also need a benefit as well, or maybe just a benefit without the home. The Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill 2012 requires a whole lot of convincing Work and Income. You do that now? Yes, but from now on, it’s not just about you (the applicant). From now on, your spouse/partner  may need to undertake pre-benefit activities as well. The idea is “pre-benefit activities have a significant effect in reducing the number of people going on to receive a benefit.” And if your partner/spouse does not do the pre-benefit activities required, you, might get sanctioned (clause 9).

Further opportunities for not getting help come with reapplication. You need to reapply annually or have your benefit cancelled if you are on a jobseeker benefit (essentially old unemployment benefit, sickness benefit, DPB if youngest is now 14+). Work and Income notes “annual reapplications have proven very successful in reducing the number of unemployment benefit recipients.”

Then there is the overseas option. Restrictions on people receiving benefits while overseas “will be extended to beneficiaries with a specific work preparation requirement, and to people receiving an emergency benefit”  so “all beneficiaries will need to inform Work and Income of any international travel plans to prevent their benefit being automatically suspended when they leave the country”.

No one will be getting an unemployment benefit while studying full-time, despite our country’s desperate need for well educated people and Government’s aspiration that everyone has at least NCEA level 2. Then, decline an offer of “suitable employment” at your peril. It will result in cancellation of the benefit and a 13-week stand down (50% of the benefit if children are involved).

There are even options for not getting help when you are seriously ill/disabled. Even if you are eligible for a Supported Living Payment (old Invalid’s benefit), guess what?  Work and Income has discretion to require you to “undertake certain work preparation activities if they think you have the capacity.”

Moral of the story: Expect many opportunities to not get help.

Source: New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services