WORK AND INCOME NZ (short WINZ) HAVE ACCORDING TO MEDIA REPORTS SINCE LAST YEAR BEEN CUTTING BACK ON EMERGENCY DENTAL TREATMENT ADVANCES FOR THOSE ON BENEFITS OR LOW INCOMES
This is hard to believe, but it is according to reports just out true. Radio NZ National has reported, that beneficiaries needing emergency dental treatment can apparently no longer access advances for costly emergency dental treatment. According to newly obtained official information from MSD (the Ministry of Social Development) this new approach has been taken since last year. Only about $ 300 per year are available to beneficiaries to cover dental treatment costs. Now those needing more expensive work done, like root canal treatments, crowns or bridges can no longer get advance loans from WINZ to cover for this.
They now either have to negotiate installment payments with their dentists or try and borrow money elsewhere. Some will not be able to get credit and may decide to rather have their teeth pulled out. So poverty will become more visible again, with people walking around with gaps in their dentures, I presume. This must be one of the results of their new “investment approach” (saving costs where-ever they can).
Radio New Zealand National reports:
‘Shrinking WINZ dental loans’
05 May 2015, Demelza Leslie
In the 2010/11 financial year, Work and Income loaned $9,398,451 to beneficiaries for emergency dental work. Over the past year that figure was slashed to $45,100, official documents showed.
Ms Brereton does not think there has been any specific changes to policy, except Government pressure on Work and Income to shrink beneficiary debt.
She said when WINZ got mean, beneficiaries were forced to go loan sharks and financial companies for money.
Dental Association chief executive David Crum said some beneficiaries required quite extensive work. He said they could only ignore a toothache for so long.
“Particularly when you get an infection or pain, that changes the picture dramatically,” he said.
Dr Crum guessed beneficiaries were organising time payments with their dentist or were getting the funding from somewhere else.
Here is also an audio from Morning Report on RNZ, covering the same:
Read and listen to the full original reports via the links to the RNZ National website, offered above!
What next, I dare to ask, and what does this tell us about the supposed “supports” they claim to give to sick, injured and disabled who they want to get into any kind of “suitable” work? There is little evidence of extra “support” being offered, besides of more investment in “more intensive case-management”, as this post already revealed:
What great “job prospects” will a WINZ client have, with gaps in his or her teeth? Let us also not forget the tax cuts that were favouring the higher earners and wealthy a few years ago, and how the weak and poor are asked to foot any budget shortfall to achieve a “more balanced budget”.
(a similar post has been posted on ‘ACC Forum’)
IMPORTANT UPDATE: OIA CHAOS AT THE MINISTRY OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT – WRONG DATA RELEASED TO MEDIA (06 MAY 2015)
MSD ARE EXPERIENCING A BIT OF “CHAOS” WITH THEIR DELIVERY OF OFFICIAL INFORMATION ACT RESPONSES:
Today I read on the blog of the Green Party, that there appears to have been some misleading information that was sent to media (Radio NZ National) in form of an Official Information Act response by MSD:
‘OIA chaos in the Ministry of Social Development’
So I must concede, that the information I and others relied on, was not correct. There has been a letter provided by MSD, stating clearly a mistake of sorts was made, and providing also the ACTUAL figures for emergency dental treatment, including dental treatment paid for by way of special advance payments, and otherwise by Special Needs Grants, the latter apparently for less urgent treatments.
The letter has been made available via this link:
Yes, a person I know also happened to get an advance nearly a year ago, for over a thousand dollars, for more expensive emergency dental treatment, and then had no problems, that was mid year. Today a person I also know went in for an advance payment, and that was close to 400 dollars worth, and that was also processed.
Hence apologies for rushing to write the post above, and for having relied on one media report on Radio NZ, which was relying on the incorrect information. I try to do all to avoid such mistakes, but when other, usually reliable media, misreport some information that was not complete or was misleading from the start, there is only so much we can do.
So MSD and WINZ do actually continue to offer these advances, but it appears also, that they seem to be more careful in granting advances and Special Needs Grants.
We conclude from all this, MSD do not have their OIA information service under control, and that only adds to concerns re other parts of their responsibilities, that certainly deserve attention and criticism.
You can rest assured though, that other information provided on this blog has been well researched and is generally very reliable!
Here is the PDF with a copy of the new, updated O.I.A. response from MSD (dated 06 May 2015):
MSD, letter correcting O.I.A. info release, correctedMSDdentalOIA, 06.05.15