[FYI request #16368 email]
Tēnā koe Amanda Murtagh
On 10 August 2021, you contacted the Ministry of Social Development (the Ministry)
through the FYI website requesting, under the Official Information Act 1982 (the Act),
the following information:
• Under what circumstance does an MSD client incur a “My Debt” for an essential
service where MSD commence recovering the said debt by repayments from
the client, prior to making the payment to the approved supplier for the
On 26 August 2021, the Ministry emailed you to clarify what you were referring to by
“My Debt” to ensure the Ministry was providing you with the correct information.
On the same day, you replied to the Ministry stating that “My Debt” is a menu option
through the my.msd.govt.nz/debt website.
In terms of hardship assistance, debt is established as soon as the payment is
approved in the system. The provider should receive the money immediately and has
no relation to whether the item is an ‘essential service’.
There may be circumstances in which a client may not have received an item or service
before the debt begins repayment. For example, when a client receives assistance for
whiteware, the grant will be approved, provider paid, and the debt starts being
recovered, though it may be some time before the client receives the item.
Other situations where payments may differ from when they are on a client’s file are
a natural disaster, or when the system is down. In both these situations the Ministry
may make payments via Hologram letter rather than through the system. However, in
both these situations, the client would receive the items before the supplier may be
paid. The Hologram letter is given to the supplier as a sign of good faith that payment
for the goods or services will be made.
The principles and purposes of the Official Information Act 1982 under which you made
your request are:
• to create greater openness and transparency about the plans, work and
activities of the Government,
• to increase the ability of the public to participate in the making and
administration of our laws and policies and
• to lead to greater accountability in the conduct of public affairs.
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The Aurora Centre, 56 The Terrace, PO Box 1556, Wel ington • Telephone 0-4-916 3300 • Facsimile 0-4-918 0099
This Ministry fully supports those principles and purposes. The Ministry therefore
intends to make the information contained in this letter and any attached documents
available to the wider public. The Ministry will do this by publishing this letter on the
Ministry of Social Development’s website. Your personal details will be deleted, and
the Ministry will not publish any information that would identify you as the person who
requested the information.
If you wish to discuss this response with us, please feel free to contact [MSD request email].
If you are not satisfied with this response regarding debt repayment, you have the
right to seek an investigation and review by the Ombudsman. Information about how
to make a complaint is available at www.ombudsman.parliament.nz
or 0800 802 602.
Ngā mihi nui
Bridget Saunders Manager, Issue Resolution
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