Benefit cancelled in questionable error but not compensated for all losses incurred as a result including family vehicle.

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). You can complain to the Ombudsman.

From: D Dahya

Dear Ministry of Social Development,

What is the process to resolve the following matter experienced in 2007 where my unemployment benefit was cancelled in error, and exactly 25 minutes of handing in the application to the Appeals Authority I received a call from MSD asking whether I had received a letter advising that they had made a mistake in cancelling my unemployment benefit for period of 8 months. During this time my mother took the brunt of this financial burden for 8 months resulting in repeated visits to Porirua Work and Income for requests for financial assistance, at one time, MSD claiming she needed to consult a budget advisor because she was unable to manage her financial obligations. It was at this time she defaulted on her loans for the family vehicle (due to constant 'top up' of loans) which was eventually repossessed and sold for a lesser amount leaving her with a remaining balance to pay off on her own which she had done over several years with her credit rating negatively affected for 5 more years afterwards.

WINZ did backdate the benefit but not the losses we incurred as a result of their apparent 'error'.

Basically WINZ cancelled my benefit under questionable work test failures resulting in me not able to assist my mother financially (yes, WINZ Porirua were completely aware of my family situation and that I contribute financially to the household). Because she was supporting me during the cancellation period she struggled to maintain her loan repayments and so she defaulted on her loan and we lost the car. She endured a stressful period when a court order to repay the outstanding loan amount (of about $6000 within 2 weeks ) was made despite advising MSD to resolve this to avoid my mother having to go through a stressful court process yet WINZ did nothing about this.

In raising the matter with the CEO(PH) at the time, he asked for reasons for the loan 'top ups' (this was not possible to due to the poor notes left by the HCCU staff) which was completely irrelevant and much later I realised it was an attempt to divert from his obligation to make a decision on the matter - a requirement for the Appeals Authority to address the matter.

Please note I have sent a letter outlining this matter to MSD Porirua ( N Ellison, Assistant Service centre manager ) for them to resolve the losses we incurred as a result of their mistake but have not yet received a response from them since March this year.

What is the process, safeguards and transparency to prevent this from occurring and to ensure such matters are resolved fairly?

D Dahya

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A point to note : Today, a day before Christmas, my mother has received a letter from MSD dated the same day as her birthday advising a significant increase in rent.

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