Clarification on benefit resumptions & suspensions(obligation failure)

D Dahya made this Official Information request to Ministry of Social Development

Response to this request is long overdue. By law Ministry of Social Development should have responded by now (details and exceptions). The requester can complain to the Ombudsman.

From: D Dahya

Dear Ministry of Social Development,

1. Declaring income
When a job seeker who receives a Jobseeker allowance from MSD declares additional income they effectively suspend their Jobseeker benefit for a period of time -they then restart it for the week the additional income is no longer received but, I have found that, in some cases, the Jobseeker Allowance has been restarted prematurely by MSD themselves ie in the same week it was suspended. I have found this to have occurred several times in 2021.

1. What is the reason for a Job seeker benefit being prematurely restarted by MSD(without the Jobseekers knowledge) instead of the Jobseeker?

The normal practice is when the job seeker has suspended the Jobseeker allowance, due to additional income, it is up to the job seeker restarted it.

2. What is the consequences of such actions on the job seeker when the Jobseeker allowance is prematurely restarted in this manner?

3. What is the process that should be taken, by the Jobseeker themselves or MSD staff, if this did happen?

4. Whenever the Jobseeker allowance has been restarted by MSD themselves is this recorded on MSD's system records/logs somewhere and, if so, which records?

2. Obligation failure imposed by MSD
This relates to an 'Obligation failure' being imposed on a job seeker (by a MSD Work broker) for not attending an interview which ,effectively' penalises the job seeker by reducing or even suspending their Jobseeker allowance which, in some cases, is their only form of regular income.

1. What is the process undertaken by MSD when an 'Obligation failure' is imposed on a job seeker?

2. Could you outline the process when the 'Obligation failure' is found to be valid?

3. Could you outline the process when the 'Obligation failure' is found to be incorrect/invalid?

4. Could you outline the process when an 'Obligation failure' is overturned?

5. What MSD records are affected/updated when an 'Obligation failure' is imposed ie SWIFT,'Obligation Failure management system' etc?

6. Do the notes in the 'Obligation failure management system' have to be descriptive enough to reveal the cause of the 'Obligation failure' or is 'Did not participate' (without any reference to who,what,where') sufficient enough?

7. Would the lack of clarity and relevant detail in the 'Obligation failure management system' ensure difficulty in resolving,recomplying or, more importantly, disputing the 'Obligation failure'?

8. Does MSD/staff who imposed the 'Obligation failure' have ANY control over the wording of any part of the system generated letter that initially notifies you of the 'Obligation failure' as well as the subsequent MyMSD letter advising that you have 're-complied'?

9. Lastly, the reason for this request is because I had an 'Obligation failure' imposed on me by MSD Porirua because I apparently didn't attend an interview set for me despite a job offer being made.

The job offer was withdrawn when I requested Flexiwage be considered as the role had offered minimum wage- well below the required market rates. MSD had some influence over the creation of the job.

My question is "If MSD weren't aware of the interview a job seeker had attended, but aware of the job offer, then how could a job offer be made without an interview"?

Yours faithfully,

D Dahya

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From: Info (MSD)
Ministry of Social Development

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Tēnā koe D Dahya,

Please find attached a response to your email dated 14 July 2022.

Nā mātou noa, nā
[email address]
Ministerial and Executive Services
Ministry of Social Development

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