Did you know that if you are on a benefit WINZ will pay to maintain your garden, cut your lawn and clean your house?
Came as a bit of a shock to me as well.
As part of the personal odyssey I have been travelling on over the last few years in the North I have been in regular contact with one of the larger franchise groups. I shall not name them because they are not relevant to this post and I have checked the story with other contractors throughout the region.
WINZ will pay for your lawn to be cut if you cannot afford to pay or are incapable of cutting it yourself (no mower or a missing leg or any other reason you can think of actually).
Now, I was gob-smacked when I first heard this but after my initial gut reaction I had a think about it and now am of the opinion SO WHAT.
DPB mums or the elderly or people on a sickness benefit need help and WINZ provides it.
I really do not have issue with this.
The process in the North and pretty much everywhere else in the country as far as I can establish with the exception of Wanganui is very simple.
The WINZ client asks a contractor for a quote, then takes the quote to WINZ and then WINZ simply pop a payment into the clients account at whatever frequency the client has asked for (normally fortnightly).
Easy peasy, minimal paperwork for WINZ to deal with and everybody is happy.
It turns out that this appears to have become a major scam for WINZ clients.
The major franchise group I have discussed this with have informed me that of the WINZ quotes they provide; less than 1 in 10 eventuates in the client hiring them to cut the grass.
What is happening is that they get the quote, trouser the cash and then cut the grass themselves or in the case of the town of Kaikohe.. Simply don't bother.
Now people do not normally get written quotes for lawnmowing, they just get a price or three and hire the one they want. It is only WINZ clients that ask for quotes in writing and anecdotally they are often asking for the quote to be rewritten at a higher price.
WINZ never check that the work is being done EVER. And do not ask for more than one quote either!
I mentioned Wanganui briefly, aparently that office does check. Well done them.
How do we fix this rort?
Well the first thing I would do is make WINZ pay the contractor directly. They could tender the work by region or local office and they would end up getting the work done cheaper.
And what do we do with the fraudsters who have been stealing the money.. Probably nothing because that is not the way we roll in Noo Zild. But lets close this hole quickly.
Email going to the minister this evening.
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