‘The Welfare Expert Advisory group has been brought together to ensure that New Zealand has a welfare system that is accessible and fair for all New Zealanders; a welfare system that ensures people have an adequate income and standard of living, are treated with and can live in dignity and are able to participate meaningfully in their communities.
We want to hear what New Zealand thinks; what is working well and not so well and any ideas you might have to ensure we have a social welfare system that is delivering compassionate, timely and appropriate support for those in need.
We have kept the survey questions broad so that they capture the full range of issues and solutions you may wish to share with us.’ (from the Kia Piki Ake Welfare Expert Advisory Group website – weag.govt.nz)
Business Crisis Support NZ has put forward the following submission which takes into account the plight of those who have lost businesses, etc.
1.0 WHAT IS WORKING WELL WITH THE CURRENT WELFARE SYSTEM?
1.1 Business Crisis Support NZ submits that it is pleased this Country has a Welfare System, unlike third world countries (as an example), who do not have one.
2.0 WHAT DO YOU THINK IS NOT WORKING WELL WITH THE CURRENT WELFARE SYSTEM?
2.1 Business Crisis Support NZ submits that to answer this question and the others that follow, that it is from the point of view of the Self Employed who have lost businesses, and business owners who are bankrupted.
2.2 Business Crisis Support NZ submits there should be no stand down period for a WINZ benefit – for those Self Employed who fall into the categories mentioned in previous paragraph. If you have a job to go to once you have lost a business – that is great. But if you do not, and you are already struggling financially after losing a business, you definitely need a steady alternative income for the interim. For many, it will be a WINZ benefit. (Self Employed persons may have outstanding bills after last day of trading).
3.0 WHAT DO YOU THINK COULD BE DONE BETTER?
3.1 Business Crisis Support NZ submits if someone has lost a business eg through illness, natural disaster etc – it would be helpful (financially) if there was no stand down period for Self Employed WINZ benefit applicants.
3.2 Business Crisis Support NZ submits many who have lost businesses are traumatised and can end up as a Consumer of the Mental Health System. The psychological impact of business loss can include: adjustment disorder, PTSD, Anxiety, Depression, Social Anxiety, or a mixture of these. Some never end up in the Mental Health system for fear of the stigma associated with it – but they can experiences the aforementioned.
3.3 Business Crisis Support NZ submits that on application of a WINZ benefit, some are so traumatised that they ‘freeze’ when asked to gather all necessary documentation required due to psychological conditions mentioned in previous paragraph. It would be helpful if WINZ Case Managers could request required documentation e.g. sets of financial accounts, any information required from Lawyer etc, for and on behalf of the Self Employed Client. (Client can complete an ‘authority form’ or write a letter giving Case Manager permission to Act on their behalf – gathering any relevant documentation).
3.4 Business Crisis Support NZ submits it would be beneficial for the Self Employed person to have the same Case Manager from the start of the WINZ benefit application and beyond. Continuity would mean that the Client would not have to repeat their situation again to someone new. Continuity with the same Case Manager will reduce anxiety symptoms for the Self Employed Client.
3.5 Business Crisis Support NZ submits that many business owners including those who have lost businesses, are not aware of the process required to close a business. (They should be made aware of this sooner – rather than later). Take for example a limited liability company. It would be helpful if all closing down processes and forms required by IRD and NZ Companies were readily available under the one roof – rather than being separated into the current two arms approach of IRD requires this, and NZ Companies requires that.
3.6 Business Crisis Support NZ has observed that IRD still sends letters out to clients eg. Employer returns – even when a Company has ceased trading. (In extreme Cases, they have sent late penalty letters to business owners when the business is no longer operating).
4. 0 WHAT LEVEL OF SUPPORT DO YOU THINK SHOULD BE AVAILABLE THROUGH THE WELFARE SYSTEM?
4.1 Business Crisis Support NZ submits ,as mentioned earlier – that availability for any business owner regarding information on the process of closing down a business be made obvious and conspicuous on relevant Government Welfare oriented websites. There is quite alot of administrative material that needs to be completed. (In some Cases – particularly limited liability companies – such businesses have not been closed until months later – because business owners did not know what to do from the outset).
4.2 Business Crisis Support NZ submits that Not everyone has access to a computer. Some of the WINZ/IRD documents are not available in hardcopy form when you call into their respective offices.
5.0 WHAT VALUES DO YOU THINK SHOULD UNDERPIN THE WELFARE SYSTEM?
5.1 Business Crisis Support NZ submits that these values are important across the whole of the NZ Welfare System – and should work both ways for not only the Client, but the Case Manager (or equivalent role carried-out in NZ’s Welfare System) as well:
Acceptance, authenticity, caring, compassion, kindness, connection, contribution, conformity, co-operation/recopricity, equality, fairness, flexibility, friendliness, trustworthiness.
Values should also echo the sentiments of those of the Human Rights Commission (NZ) thus: Manatangata – human dignity; Maia, Tika, Pono – courage and integrity, and Whanaungatanga – relationships.
6.0 IF YOU HAVE ANY OTHER COMMENTS TO MAKE ABOUT THE CURRENT OR FUTURE WELFARE SYSTEM, PLEASE RECORD THESE BELOW:
6.1 Business Crisis Support NZ submits that people working within New Zealand’s Welfare System should create an environment for their Clients that is inclusive and non-discriminatory. It should not favour one sector of the community above because of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation (LGBTQ), age, disability, financial status (including bankruptcy), religious belief, cultural diversity, citizenship, language, political or other opinions, national or social origin, property, birth, status, economical/social/cultural rights, and any others.
6.2 Business Crisis Support NZ submits there is room for improvement/professional development opportunities for some staff in customer services – when dealing with Clients with disabilities, understanding hardship, interpersonal skills with different ethnicities, mental health, etc.
6.3 Business Crisis Support NZ submits that any Application Forms that have ‘ethnic group,’ on them – should reflect and be representative of the diverse ethnicities apparent in New Zealand. By broadening options – people from other cultures will feel included and validated .
6.4 Business Crisis Support NZ submits that Welfare Models/Frameworks (devised by Academics or otherwise) should be flexible enough to cagter for diverse needs, requirements, etc.
6.5 Business Crisis Support NZ submits that the requirement of furnishing 3 monthly medical certificates be altered (as an example) – particularly in cases of progressive illnesses (eg Congestive Heart Failure, COPD, etc), permanent disabilities, etc.
6.6 Business Crisis Support NZ submits in summary that most business loss/business bankruptcy situations are different. As such, each situation needs to be treated on a case-by-case basis. Our Submission presents concepts for serious consideration and implementation into New Zealand’s Welfare System. We do not have all the answers – but this Submission is certainly a good place to start with the aim of developing awareness about the plight of business loss and business bankruptcy .
Thank you Welfare Expert Advisory Group for presenting an opportunity for the Nation to offer alternative ways of improving our current Welfare System in New Zealand. For those who have experienced business loss, or were business owners who were bankrupted – we hope our submission help this particular sector of the Community get back on their feet, provide hope, and attain some financial stability. This sector of the Community are the forgotten ones and are often discriminated against in some form or other by Society. Let’s change things and give them some hope.
Fiona Green BEd(Tchg) – Social Justice Advocate – BUSINESS CRISIS SUPPORT NZ