What’s working?

The majority of respondents said ‘nothing’ or ‘very little’ is working in our welfare system.

Keeping people below the poverty line is the only thing that is working.
— Simon, 23, Christchurch

“Nothing about the welfare system is working. You are treated like a third class citizen with no rights. I was asked by a New Brighton Case Manager if I was dating anyone at my Tuesday appointment just recently. I replied no. She said, ‘You must tell me the minute you start dating someone.’

Since when is dating someone a crime? You are not living with them. You are not asking them for money. I came away feeling extremely violated. All I asked for was some assistance with food. I am struggling to survive as are many out there. I am trying to find a job. I am 55 years of age, I am educated but not offered any help from them as far as further training or assistance goes to find employment.”

  • Anon, 55, Christchurch

Some said that access to more online, phone-based and automated services was helping to reduce stigma and fear.

“I get to do more online which means I don't have to go into WINZ. Something I don't like to do as I feel belittled just getting past the guards.”

  • Sarah, 70, Kāpiti Coast

“The automated application process makes some assistance easier and less traumatising for clients.”

  • Chrissy, Social Worker, Dunedin

“I'm very in favour of the online and phone system, makes it easy for those of us who find it harder to get out. But I also wouldn’t want to see less centres as I know others who aren’t tech inclined and need to go into those places.”

  • Jarrod, 44, Wellington

People were grateful for access to study, training and employment. But they were also critical of the lack of suitable employment and training options available.

“I think it’s great to offer people training, but it has to be the right kind of training. Also great to offer employment opportunities, but more living wage jobs would be nice too.”

  • Lynda, 53, Palmerston North

“I was on the Board of the Auckland City Mission for 17 years and although I have had no personal experience of the welfare system I know of the stories of the many who have. An extremely high percentage of the people seeking assistance from welfare and the Mission are not the smokers, drinkers and gamblers that the anti-welfare people would say. They are genuine and trying to do their best in an economic system that does not adequately reward the workers for a fair day's work.”

  • Mary, Former Board Member at Auckland City Mission, Auckland

People were grateful a welfare system exists, and for the Winter Energy Payment. But they also acknowledged that it’s not enough money to meet the most basic of needs.

“I like the idea of a winter/power supplement but $30 unfortunately doesn't cover very much. It's like a small plaster on an arterial bleed.”

  • Louise, 55, Rotorua

“It exists which is good but frankly it struggles to meet the actual needs of people and therefore does not help people out of the circumstances.”

  • Wiremu, 27, Auckland

“My home is rented. The rent takes nearly all my [NZ] Super, leaving only enough for food and nothing for other things. I was grateful for the the winter heating allowance.”

  • Eileen, 72, Nelson

“Maybe the fact that we have one is good but we’re just barely scraping by and can only afford to live week to week just existing.”

  • Blair, 28, Taupō