Policy Considerations for Accommodation Benefit

Joshua Grainger made this Official Information Act request to Ministry of Social Development

The request was partially successful.

From: Joshua Grainger

Dear Ministry of Social Development,

I would like to request under the Official Information Act the
guidelines that the Ministry for Social Development uses in setting
the rate of the Accommodation Benefit for the Student Allowance. If
a policy or formula is set in place for determining the rate of the
benefit I would like to request any correspondence or draft
documents regarding the development of this policy/formula. If
possible using the current formula I would also like to know what
the accommodation benefit would be in each city if the $40/$60 cap
was not in place.

I would also like to request any processes, consultation, draft
proposals, or correspondence regarding the current $40/$60 cap on
the accommodation benefit in schedule 3 of the current Student
Allowances regulations. If MSD is not the right department to
request this information from please transfer my request.

Yours faithfully,

Joshua Grainger

Link to this

From: Info (MSD)
Ministry of Social Development

Dear Joshua,

Thank you for your request for information regarding the Accommodation Supplement. I have referred your request to officials in the Ministry and you can expect to receive a response in accordance with the Official Information Act 1982.

If you haven't already seen it, there is a large amount of information including policies and legislation on the Work and Income website that you might find useful: http://www.workandincome.govt.nz/manuals....

Regards

Elisabeth Brunt

________________________________________
From: Joshua Grainger [[FYI contact email]]
Sent: Thursday, 5 January 2012 8:36 p.m.
To: Info (MSD)
Subject: Official Information request: Policy Considerations for Accommodation Benefit

Dear Ministry of Social Development,

I would like to request under the Official Information Act the
guidelines that the Ministry for Social Development uses in setting
the rate of the Accommodation Benefit for the Student Allowance. If
a policy or formula is set in place for determining the rate of the
benefit I would like to request any correspondence or draft
documents regarding the development of this policy/formula. If
possible using the current formula I would also like to know what
the accommodation benefit would be in each city if the $40/$60 cap
was not in place.

I would also like to request any processes, consultation, draft
proposals, or correspondence regarding the current $40/$60 cap on
the accommodation benefit in schedule 3 of the current Student
Allowances regulations. If MSD is not the right department to
request this information from please transfer my request.

Yours faithfully,

Joshua Grainger

-------------------------------------------------------------------
Disclaimer: This message and any reply that you make will be
published on the internet. Our privacy and copyright policies:
http://fyi.org.nz/help/about#officers

Please use this email address for all replies to this request:
[OIA #68 email]

Is [MSD request email] the wrong address for Official
Information requests to Ministry of Social Development?

If so please contact us using this form:
http://fyi.org.nz/help/contact

If you find FYI useful as an OIA officer, please ask your web
manager to suggest us on your organisation's OIA page.
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Please consider the environment before printing this email and its attachments.
Avoid printing, or print double-sided if you can.

Link to this

From: FYI Requests


Attachment Grainger Joshua Extension Letter dated 9 Feb 2012.pdf
41K Download View as HTML


Dear Mr Grainger
 
Please find attached a letter concerning your Official Information Act
request.
 
Kind regards
 
Tanya Howlett
 

Tanya Howlett
Manager, Official and Parliamentary Information
Ministry of Social Development
Ph: 916 3638 Internal extn: 42638

[mobile number]

 
 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Please consider the environment before printing this email and its
attachments.
Avoid printing, or print double-sided if you can.

show quoted sections

Link to this

From: Joshua Grainger

Dear Ms Howlett,

Your extended deadline to consult with potentially affected parties
expired yesterday, and I have not heard back from the Ministry of
Social Development. May I please receive an immediate update on the
status on my request, or I will be filing a complaint with the
Ombudsman due to my request not being answered in the legal
timeframe.

Yours sincerely,

Joshua Grainger

Link to this

From: FYI Requests


Attachment Grainger Joshua OIA Response.pdf
568K Download View as HTML


Dear Mr Grainger
 
Please find attached the Ministry's response to your Official Information
Act request concerning the setting of Accommodation Benefit for Student
Allowance.
 
Kind regards
 
 
Tanya Howlett

 

 

Tanya Howlett
Manager, Official and Parliamentary Information
Ministry of Social Development
Ph: 916 3638 Internal extn: 42638

 

show quoted sections

Link to this

From: Joshua Grainger

Dear Tanya,

I was wondering now that it has been a week if there has been any
update on the consultation with DPMC on the two remaining papers:
the 2002 Social Services Package Cabinet Paper, and the unspecified
"one additional document." I apologize if I am being impatient, it
is just that I am unsure on how long these things are expected to
take, especially given the extension requested for consultation.

If consultations have not yet been completed, can I please get an
expected timeframe: are we talking days, weeks, or months?

On a related note: thank you for revealing how the accomadation is
formulated. I have sent a request to the Department of Building and
Housing asking for their average weekly residential bond rate by
region so I can calcuate what the rate would be without the cap
myself.

Yours sincerely,

Joshua Grainger

Link to this

From: FYI Requests

Dear Joshua
 
We have yet to hear back from DPMC. We will follow up with them.
 
It won't be months, more likely a small number of weeks, but I am
reluctant to put a specific date on it at this point.
Glad you found the information useful and keep in touch,
 
Regards
 
Tanya Howlett
 

Tanya Howlett
Manager, Official and Parliamentary Information
Ministry of Social Development

 

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: FYI Requests [mailto:[1][FYI contact email]]
Sent: Wednesday, 7 March 2012 2:20 p.m.
To: Tanya Howlett
Subject: Re: Official Information Act request - Joshua Grainger
  Dear Tanya,
I was wondering now that it has been a week if there has been any
update on the consultation with DPMC on the two remaining papers:
the 2002 Social Services Package Cabinet Paper, and the unspecified
"one additional document." I apologize if I am being impatient, it
is just that I am unsure on how long these things are expected to
take, especially given the extension requested for consultation.

If consultations have not yet been completed, can I please get an
expected timeframe: are we talking days, weeks, or months?

On a related note: thank you for revealing how the accomadation is
formulated. I have sent a request to the Department of Building and
Housing asking for their average weekly residential bond rate by
region so I can calcuate what the rate would be without the cap
myself.

Yours sincerely,

Joshua Grainger
   

show quoted sections

Link to this

From: Joshua Grainger

Dear Tanya,

Has there been any update? I have just filed a complaint with the
Ombudsmen because I have heard stories of these delays stretching
over months and I just want to make sure something happens,
especially given that there was an extension requested for
consulting.

I understand the fault lies with the DPMC, however, I am just
finding this delay to be rather frustrating.

Yours sincerely,

Joshua Grainger

Link to this

From: FYI Requests

Dear Joshua
 
Thank you for your email. We have followed up with DPMC and will let you
know when we hear back from them.
 
Regards
 
Tanya
 

Tanya Howlett
Manager, Official and Parliamentary Information
Ministry of Social Development

 

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: FYI Requests [mailto:[1][FYI contact email]]
Sent: Thursday, 22 March 2012 11:12 a.m.
To: Tanya Howlett
Subject: Re: Official Information Act request - Joshua Grainger
Dear Tanya,

Has there been any update? I have just filed a complaint with the
Ombudsmen because I have heard stories of these delays stretching
over months and I just want to make sure something happens,
especially given that there was an extension requested for
consulting.

I understand the fault lies with the DPMC, however, I am just
finding this delay to be rather frustrating.

Yours sincerely,

Joshua Grainger
   

show quoted sections

Link to this

From: Joshua Grainger

Dear Tanya,

I have follow up request that can hopefully be answered reasonably
quickly. I have received the residental bond data by region from
the Department of Building and Housing and I am having trouble
replicating the amount that Studylink has posted for Palmerston
North on their website ($34/$61 - used because it is the only one
that doesn't hit the $40 cap).

I was hoping that you would be able to tell me a few things so that
I can replicate your results.

First, can you tell me exactly what date period was used for
determining the value of the average weekely per room residential
bond rate for this year?

Second, average weekely per room residential bond rate is specified
in determining the rate, is this the same as the "Room" dwelling
type in the information that the Department provides? (for December
2011 at 127 average for Palmerston North)

Third, I don't suppose it would be possible at all to confirm that
the data I received is the same that the Ministry is operating off?
I would hate for me to be getting my numbers wrong because I'm
using the wrong data.

A copy of the data that I received can be viewed at:
http://fyi.org.nz/requests/84/response/1....

Finally, if the full steps that the Ministry preforms upon
receiving this data to determine the accomodation benefit rate
could be spelt out, that would be great (so how exactly the data is
used in order to get the rate $34/$61 rate for Palmerston North).

Thank you for your assistance. I appreciate it very much.

Yours sincerely,

Joshua Grainger

Link to this

From: FYI Requests

Dear Joshua
 
Thank you for your follow up request.  I understand your concern
about data. I have allocated it for action and you can expect a response
in the timeframes of the Act.
 
Kind regards
 
Tanya
 

Tanya Howlett
Manager, Official and Parliamentary Information
Ministry of Social Development

 

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: FYI Requests [mailto:[1][FYI contact email]]
Sent: Monday, 26 March 2012 10:59 a.m.
To: Tanya Howlett
Subject: Re: Official Information Act request - Joshua Grainger
Dear Tanya,

I have follow up request that can hopefully be answered reasonably
quickly. I have received the residental bond data by region from
the Department of Building and Housing and I am having trouble
replicating the amount that Studylink has posted for Palmerston
North on their website ($34/$61 - used because it is the only one
that doesn't hit the $40 cap).

I was hoping that you would be able to tell me a few things so that
I can replicate your results.

First, can you tell me exactly what date period was used for
determining the value of the average weekely per room residential
bond rate for this year?

Second, average weekely per room residential bond rate is specified
in determining the rate, is this the same as the "Room" dwelling
type in the information that the Department provides? (for December
2011 at 127 average for Palmerston North)

Third, I don't suppose it would be possible at all to confirm that
the data I received is the same that the Ministry is operating off?
I would hate for me to be getting my numbers wrong because I'm
using the wrong data.

A copy of the data that I received can be viewed at:
[2]http://fyi.org.nz/requests/84/response/1....

Finally, if the full steps that the Ministry preforms upon
receiving this data to determine the accomodation benefit rate
could be spelt out, that would be great (so how exactly the data is
used in order to get the rate $34/$61 rate for Palmerston North).

Thank you for your assistance. I appreciate it very much.

Yours sincerely,

Joshua Grainger
   

show quoted sections

Link to this

From: Tanya Howlett
Ministry of Social Development


Attachment CAB Min 2002 For suggested release.pdf
289K Download View as HTML

Attachment 2011 Regional Accommodation Benefit Rate Approval Memo 06 September 2011 with comments FULL REDACTION for release.pdf
228K Download View as HTML


Dear Mr Grainger,

 

Further to your request of 5 January 2012 and 27 March 2012, please find
enclosed two documents, as identified in our response to you of 29
February 2012:

 

- StudyLink Memo, Accommodation Benefit Rates for 2012, dated 19 September
2011.

 

Please note, names of Ministry staff have been withheld under section
9(2)(a) of the Act.  It is in my view that withholding the names of the
officials does not detract from the transparency intended by the Official
Information Act.

 

- CAB Min (02) 12/8/(48), 2002 Budget: Social Services Package, dated 22
April 2002.

 

Please note that only the sections relating to the Accommodation Benefit
are provided to you as all other information is out of scope of your
request.

 

StudyLink has provided a full breakdown of the calculation of the
Accommodation Benefit rate for Palmerston North.  Some of this information
was provided to you in our earlier response to you in February.

 

 

Regional Accommodation Benefit Rate Calculation

 

1.  Regulation 24 (1) of the Student Allowances Regulations (1998)
provides for the amount of the Accommodation Benefit to be “…determined in
any case in accordance with guidelines issued from time to time by the
chief executive”.

 

2.  The value of the accommodation benefit payable must not exceed the
weekly value specified in Schedule 3 of the Student Allowances Regulations
1998 – a maximum of $60 per week for single students with children and for
all other eligible students, a maximum of $40 per week.

 

3.  The policy approach and methodology for setting the Accommodation
Benefit rates is set out in the 2001 Accommodation Benefit rate report, as
originally established by the Ministry of Education when they administered
the Student Allowances Scheme. This was updated when the new ‘single
student with a supported child or children’ rate was introduced from the
beginning of 2003.

4.  The source data on tenancy bond amounts is obtained each year from the
Department of Building and Housing.

 

5.  The rates are calculated by firstly identifying the average weekly per
room residential bond rate for each region. The Residential Tenancy Bond
data is provided by the Department of Building and Housing.

 

6.  Then, $40 is subtracted from the average rate for each region. It is
then multiplied by 0.75 for sole parents and 0.5 for all other students.

 

7.  The resulting figure (the rate) is a 75% or 50% subsidy on
accommodation costs in excess of $40, up to a maximum of $60 or $40.

 

 

 

Palmerston North Calculation

 

The average per room rate for Palmerston North is $107.54.

 

This figure is then used to calculate the contribution towards
accommodation costs for that area by using the calculation referred to
above.

 

Single student: 107.54 - $40.00 = $67.54 x 50% = 33.77 rounded up to
$34.00

 

Sole parent: 107.54 - $40.00 = $67.54 x 75% = 50.65 rounded up to $51.00

 

 

I hope you find this information about the Accommodation Benefit helpful. 
You have the right to seek an investigation and review of my response by
the Ombudsman, whose address for contact purposes is:

The Ombudsman

Office of the Ombudsmen

PO Box 10-152

WELLINGTON 6143

 

Kind regards
 
Tanya
 
 

Tanya Howlett
Manager, Official and Parliamentary Information
Ministry of Social Development
Ph: 916 3638 Internal extn: 42638

------------------------------- This email and any attachments may contain
information that is confidential and subject to legal privilege. If you
are not the intended recipient, any use, dissemination, distribution or
duplication of this email and attachments is prohibited. If you have
received this email in error please notify the author immediately and
erase all copies of the email and attachments. The Ministry of Social
Development accepts no responsibility for changes made to this message or
attachments after transmission from the Ministry.
-------------------------------

Link to this

From: Joshua Grainger

Dear Tanya,

Thank you for your response. Unfortunately it isn't that helpful
for my purpose: trying to figure out exactly how the figure for
Palmerston North was arrived at, primarily because how it wasn't
spelt out how the "average per room rate for Palmerston North" was
determined.

In the data I received from the Department of Building and Housing,
the figure given here, 107.54, does not exist at all. Thus, unless
the data I have recieved from the Department of Building and
Housing is different from the data MSD is operating from (which was
the purpose of question #3 in my follow up request), some
manipulation of the data must take place in order to determine that
average rate. I am trying to determine what manipulation occurs.

So, may I ask the exact process that StudyLink/MSD embarked on in
order to determine the 107.54 figure of the average per room bond
rate for Palmerston North from the data provided to them from the
Department? For example: is it assessed at a certain month, or is
the data for the whole year combined and averaged?

Or alternatively, was this figure (107.54) taken directly (without
any manipulation of the data) from the information provided by the
Department of Building and Housing, in which case I will have to
send a follow up request to them?

Thank you very much for your time. It is good to see the two
documents: in particular the 2011 memo was very helpful.

Yours sincerely,

Joshua Grainger

Link to this

Things to do with this request

Anyone:
Ministry of Social Development only: