Thursday, March 19, 2009

WINZ.... Client rip offs. Number 1 in an enormously long series.

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.
BUT.
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.

NOT.

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.

29 comments:

kehua said...

What a rort, I imagine we have been paying for housecleaning, roofpainting and the like as well. No wonder there was a bloody blowout. Thanks for the info.

Barnsley Bill said...

I am not taking issue with beneficiaries being helped Kehua. My concern is the fraudulent way some beneficiaries are getting extra payments for specific tasks that do not get carried out or are done by the beneficiary themselves.

Anonymous said...

How do we fix this rort?


We close down WINZ. Sorry, but that's how it goes.

This is no more a rort than the Dole or DPB in the first place. They are all rorts. Close the lot down, john Key - and you will be remembered forever in NZ!

Barnsley Bill said...

anonymous, unclench your nightie for a moment and actually try and think about what you just typed.
Nobody is ever going to close the benefit system and I would violently oppose any attempts to do so. However, we should be auditing what they spend and constant vigilance is needed to keep this department on its toes.

Psycho Milt said...

No, really, Sinner - you should be writing John Key's speeches for him. I urge you to contact him and offer your services...

BB: well spotted. I remember from my own time decades ago as a bludger (there's no other word for it - I found slacking about and cadging drugs off people preferable to working) that the govt (ie the long-suffering NZ taxpayer) should be given no quarter when it came to cash extraction. After all, evry $11 gained was a crate of beer - well, it was back then, anyway.

The most ridiculous thing is that I was hopeless when it came to weaseling extra money out of the Min of Social Welfare, unlike these clever-clogs emptying WINZ' pockets today. These are clearly perceptive and intelligent people who'd be more than capable of making a success of themselves if they weren't lazy shites who prefer crime. Time for some "no quarter" in the other direction.

Barnsley Bill said...

I hope this post does not descend into a beneficiary bash.
That is certainly not the way I feel about the subject. It is human nature for people to take the piss. This is more about encouraging our new Minister to close some loopholes, there are many and this is the easiest to close that I have come across.

Brad Taylor said...

Just to play devil's advocate, one could argue that it's better from an economic point of view that people are just pocketing the money rather than hiring gardeners when they don't need to. No real resources are being used here, just simple redistribution.

mattyroo said...

I'm with you on the fact that there needs to be benefits in the background for the truly needy.

But what I am getting heartily sick of, is the beneficiaries commtting crimes. We have to get tough on them, and show them they can't carry on with this contempt for us, the ones that carry them.

So, for every beneficiary who is convicted of a crime, they automatically get a 3 month stand down period from the dole. Accumulative too. Some will have expired their life chance of the dole in the first six weeks. Good!

Barnsley Bill said...

Brad, you have a point. However the tradesman is more likely to be buying fuel, equipment and paying taxes rather than tinnies, lion red, fags and lotto tickets.

Barnsley Bill said...

Brad.. A further point to your comment. They are breaking the law as well.
Mattyroo, I completely understand your view on this. I am however prone to think of the innocents in all this. Do we really want to see children starving because their parents are scum?
I don't.

Pique Oil said...

Before the oil co forced me to sell my workshop I did a lot of work for Winz. Winz Paid us directly when repairs had been completed and the beneficiary had signed off the invoice. We had random audits on our invoicing done at least three times that I can remember. Certainly the Terrace End branch of Winz was checking on where the money went.

Barnsley Bill said...

How long ago was that Pique? That is really good to hear. I suspect the big ticket items like car repairs and tyres are offered as a "loan" that is clawed back. And I have seen many people using winz vouchers for petrol.. Gardening/ lawns seems to fit into another category.

KG said...

"Do we really want to see children starving because their parents are scum?
I don't."
Well, I don't give a shit. They chose to have children and thanks to that attitude, they're able to use those same--often unwanted--children to blackmail working Kiwis into supporting them.
Other people's children are not my responsibility!

Barnsley Bill said...

K-G, look at it another way, do we want even more criminal scum roaming the streets but this time stealing to eat. Anarchy is the end result if we remove the net completely.

KG said...

I agree with you there, BB, no doubt about it.
Of course I don't want to see the safety net removed--in some cases I'd like to see it improved and increased.
But! It must be a safety net, not a lifestyle choice. And there simply must come a point where we call 'enough' on children being used as a lever to extort money from the taxpayer.
Because that's a bottomless pit without sanctions.
If people aren't caring for their kids with the essentials of life there are laws in place to deal with that.Throwing more money at the bastards isn't the answer.

KG said...

And, nobody needs to steal inorder to eat in this country. I lost count of the number of overgron sections I saw in Kaikohe and the area around Kaeo, sections which could have been used to plant vegetables and fruit trees.
it's a matter of pure damn laziness, as the trolleys loaded with junkfood in the local supermarkets demonstrate.

Barnsley Bill said...

Agreed, and the point of this post was not to start a debate on the rights or wrongs of benefits. I am compromised on that discussion as I have family receiving a benefit now so will try and avoid discussing. However if we are going to have a system it needs to be run correctly and without the loopholes I outlined. My issue is with lazy stupid WINZ staff. The clients ripping the system off are thieves and should be treated as such.

Jim Bailey - JimBWarrior - HandsOnEqualParent said...

I see the far Right arer pontificating still - Onward - Jim

Lindsay said...

"Do we really want to see children starving"?

That's exactly the argument John Key gave me earlier in the week when I asked him why National wouldn't cap the number of children a woman could have while on the DPB.

So it's OK for some 5,000 children to be added to an existing benefit every year.

Your feeling compromised because you have family on benefit however is the major reason real reform is politically unlikely. Some years ago when I circulated a petition asking parliament to revue the DPB this was the most common reason people gave for not signing. Not that they didn't agree there was a problem but that signing would make them feel disloyal to a family member.

And why shouldn't people on the DPB mow their own lawns? They have the time. I mow mine every week. I enjoy doing it too.

Anonymous said...

"Do we really want to see children starving"?

yes. We will not be able to change NZ without people starving. A few people starved in 1984. A few more people starved in 1991. And either rather more people need to starve now.

It is either that, or NZ as an independent, first-world country ceases to exist. You choose.

Lucy said...

Well I am definitely missing out. I have COPD am on oxygen and I can tell you WINZ are NOT and never have even mentioned paying for my house to be cleaned or to have my garden done.

Could it be that I am pakeha?

Barnsley Bill said...

Anonyfelchtwat, nobody starved in 84 or 91. Look up starved.
Lucy, thnks for your comment. If you are having difficulties getting stuff done you are quite within your current rights to request help. They are not going to volunteer the information you have to ask for it.

Lindsay, you are right, I am feeling compromised and a little ashamed too.
And the situation has made me think a little more than usual about the benefit system.
My family split early last year and my wife was pregnant when she left. She went onto the DPB and then added to her benefit when the wee one was born. It has certainly tempered my opinion of the system.
My post was not supposed to be a review of whether we have benefits.
It would be great if we did not have to provide them, but within the benefit system there are so many shades that it is impossible for any of us to definitively say what should be done.
The aim of this post was to highlight a massive loophole in the system that people will take advantage of.

Anonymous said...

Kids would not starve because lazy DPB parents would get off their behinds (as they did pre DPB) and actually work to put food on the table, the whole DPB system is a rrot, is out of control and is fast contributing to child abuse in this country, a lot of these pareents laugh all the way to the bank and absolutely refuse to work, ever. Poor old tax payer, as usual, is saddled with financing other peoples often bad choices - having kids because there is automatically a big benefit for solo parents if they chose not to work.

Anonymous said...

Gee - NoMinister has come over all lefty!

Have to say this at BB - but at WhaleOil you'd have get no mercy whatsoever.

Barnsley Bill said...

Whale Oil has blogged on this too.
It is not an issue of left or right. It is about detecting and stopping fraud.

Anonymous said...

You think that's bad?

How about WINZ beneficiaries applying for the Disability Allowance for Counselling? Works out to about $50.00 subsidy per session. WINZ client goes along to a GP, says they are anxious or depressed; GP raises forms for application for a Disability Allowance; WINZ client takes forms to Counsellor, who also authorises sessions (usually 10 sessions over a weekly, fortnightly, or monthly basis). WINZ client shows up to a counselling session or two, and then doesn't return.

The solution? Counsellors can require the WINZ case manager for a "re-direction order" which pays the Disability Allowance straight into the Counsellers Practice account. Why can't WINZ do the same re-directions for contractors?

Barnsley Bill said...

Because counsellors are part of the system, whereas contractors are just working stiffs.

Anonymous said...

It is not an issue of left or right. It is about detecting and stopping fraud.

It is absolutely a matter of left or right - because the definition of fraud is absolutely condition on whether you are left or right.

If you are left, then there can be no fraud.
If you are right, then everything is fraud

Anne Boleyn said...

It shocks me tremendously that WINZ pays for this. I myself have been on a sickness benefit for 7 years, I am on a waiting list to have 3 operations. I am not recieving anything from them other than the accomodation supplement and sickness benefit. I have found it extremely hard to live as WINZ have been the bane of my exisitance. They do not help me at all and make me feel bad to even be living.
Imagine a relationship break up, having bad credit, no income other than the benefit, no references for houses, not being able to work, family as poor as you and being told by a case manager when you find a house that a landlord will let you move into that no its too expensive. You don't have enough entitlements, if we help you you wont have any money for food. So you cant move into that house. Your going to be homeless. No don't be silly. You have the weekend to find a house.
Are you also aware that they have a house start grant up to $1500. And when I asked for help for a fridge freezer, washing machine and bed they said no save up. WITH WHAT MONEY! and you HAVE TO PAY IT BACK!
So it really pisses me off that these frauds out there are ruining it for the ones like me.
Another thing I have a gripe with is are you aware that benefits for couples over 25 get paid less than 2 singles over 25. $100 less actually. I think that should change.