Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Maia vs. WINZ: The Forms

You get a lot of forms after your WR4U seminar, all in a pretty orange folder. In fact that's the reason you go to WRK4U seminars, because they won't give you the form to apply for the unemployment benefit unless you go to a WRK4U seminar. Apparently they are currently on very dodgy legal ground in doing this, but the government is going to change the law to increase WINZ's surveillance of people with the audacity to want government support very soon. I knew I could probably get out of the seminar before I went, but I decided it wasn't worth the effort, plus I wanted to write a blog post about it.*

About half the forms and random bits of paper they give you are about applying for the benefit, the other half are about looking for work.

My favourite form of the whole lot is the self-assessment form. In this form they give you a set of questions and you have to circle 1-5 depending on whether they apply 'Not At All' or 'Always'. Some of the statements are really inane "I am a positive person" is the silliest. Although my personal favourite was: "I know y rights and obligations as an employee" after 4 years of being a union organiser I wanted to make a new category 6 or - 'more than WINZ form-writers'.

You have to be careful with these evaluations though, because if you're not you might come across as the sort of people who needs to go on a WINZ course. WINZ courses are boredom vortexes from which you may never recover, and while Straight2Work - Retail sounds bad, I'm sure it's nothing compared to what they've got from someone who doesn't know that they must circle at least 4 on every question about job interviews and CVs.

The forms about work are funny, and relatively easily ignored (although they expect you to keep a job lead diary of all the job-leads that you've gone after and followed up, isn't surveillance fun). The bigger problem is the application form itself. Here's what you need, besides the form:

Verification of bank account details (easy enough for me, harder for people who don't have a bank account).

Original of birth certificate or passport (I have my birth certificate filed under 'D' for documents in my filing box - people with a bad relationship with their parents might find it harder to get hold of, and it costs time and money to get a replacement - even more so if you were born overseas).

Another form of identification such as driver's licence (which is problematic if you don't have a driver's licence)

A letter from Inland Revenue showing your tax number (I saved one of these under 'T' - otherwise I'd have had to make a special trip down to inland revenue. Not that big a deal for someone with a car and without a child).

Gross income details for the last year (I did this by getting my ex-employer to fill out a form. It was easy enough to do, because we have a really good relationship. But an ex-employer could really screw you over, particularly if they hadn't provided pay-slips. It would also be that much harder if you had two jobs, casual or part-time work).

Verification of accomodation costs (filed under 'F' for flat - and relatively easy for most people although harder if you don't have a tenancy agreement).

Verification of assets (just a trip to the bank away - although the bank will probably charge you).

There's a whole bunch of other things you may have to verify, names changes, evidence of citizenship/residency status, children's birth certificates, . Then if you were silly enough to admit you were in a relationship in the nature of marriage you have to provide all the same information for your partner. For any supplementary allowances there's more documentation; if you want a disability allowance you have to go to the doctor (at your own expense) and provide receipts of everything you've ever bought.

If you know what you need in advance it may not be that hard making sure you have all this stuff when the time comes. But if you don't, then it's a lot of time and expense, when you're probably least able to provide it.

Which comes back to the theme of these posts - it's not the ones who need help least who are kept out by bureaucracy - it's those who need it most.

* I'm 28 the fact that I can treat dealing with WINZ as a strange venture into a foreign land is both weird and a sign of my priviledge.


  1. I remember the discussion when I first got on a benefit about ID - I brought them both my original birth certificate (which meant I had to delay my meeting 2 weeks in order to talk to my father and find it) and my passport, but owned no other ID (no drivers license, no drinking age ID, no credit card even).

    From memory, we spent about 20+ minutes discussing that before they agreed that my ID was sufficient.

  2. Anonymous11:43 am

    Doesn't the New Zealand taxpayer has a right to ensure their funds are used appropriately?

    It is not WINZs job, or desireable, to leave people on the unemployment benefit. Perhaps the course is beneath you, but perhaps it is pitched at people who do need that level of hand-holding? The fact that they are applying for the unemployment benefit at a time or record low unemployment shows they are either incapable of looking after themselves or not wanting to work.

    The benefit is not intended for the latter. If there are obstacles in the way to prevent the latter signing up and staying on, then good.

    If you choose not to work - fine - your choice - but why expect the taxpayer to fund you?

    If you don't want to be "exploited" by "the man" then why not start your own business?

    If business is undesirable, either reframe it as "solving peoples problems in exchange for money" (which is all "business" really is) or start a commune.

    I read a lot of complaining, but very little in the way of constructive solutions.

    Why is that?

  3. Anonymous1:34 pm

    One thing that doesn't appear to be widely known is that WINZ have to take the date you first apply for a benefit as the starting date for payments once the benefit is approved (i.e. they should backdate payments to that that date). This date can be the first time you phone and ask for assistance*. I think there are a set number of days you then have to get the paperwork in, but if you have a good reason for not fitting that timeframe they can accomodate that.

    But you have to tell them to take it from that date, otherwise they take the start date as the date the forms are given to them.

    *At least that is what their policy says. I'm not sure in practice how easy it is to get them to do this.

  4. Anonymous10:06 pm

    If only I had klnown the secret of lnot telling them one has a partner. cripes they earn one dollar over the cut off point and suddenly you get almost no benefit at all.
    Suddenly I get severely punished for my partner working an extra hour.

    hmm the wound is still fresh...

  5. I recall when I first took up dole bludging back in 1980, no-one was much interested in ID - which was a good thing, seeing as I didn't have a birth certificate or a passport, and driver's licenses didn't have a picture. The upshot of this was it was fairly straightforward to supplement your dole by registering under multiple names. I was never game to try it, but one person I met was supposedly registered under 3 different names, and therefore on three times the money I was.

    At the time I considered this an admirable success story, but now that I'm paying taxes as well as receiving the benefits of them, I do prefer that WINZ doesn't negligently encourage similar success stories, and no doubt many other taxpayers share this view.

  6. I wish you success with your job hunt. I strongly suggest you go on any WINZ course that deals with people with attitude problems.

    You are getting all arrogant and uppity with people who are trying to help you. Perhaps you could learn a little humility and subjugate the sass. being a smart arse and publicly making a fool of somebody helps nobody.

    Until then I very much doubt you would be worth investing an employers time and money in.

    And if that sounds harsh take it as a wake up call from somebody who has interviewed and been interviewed any number of times.