Tuesday, December 22, 2015

So useless it can't be an accident

So it's not actually their treatment of me that sparked this - it's their treatment of other people. I'm pretty fucking useless myself. My memory is pathetic, and is made worse by things that are causing me to be anxious, so I avoid the shit out of situations that are likely to cause me extra stress.

And dealing with Work and Income New Zealand is about the most horrifically stressful thing there is for someone in a first world country without developing a terminal illness. If you've ever really wanted to be treated like you have absolutely no value to the world, intimidated, mislead, and expected to be grateful and meek about it I can't recommend WINZ more highly. They are your go-to non-sexual dominatrix service. 

My current extreme annoyance with them at the moment is rent reviews. They have taken over providing this *service* for Housing New Zealand, under the Social Housing branch. And they are apparently fucking AWFUL at it. Rent reviews are a fucking stupid idea in the first place, as are a lot of the other hoops they make poor people jump through. They are an appalling waste of time and money. As are most other hoops they make poor people jump through. No repeating that wasn't an accident, get used to that line - so much of the social welfare system can be summed up as a useless waste of time and money. And so much of their procedures can be described as jumping through hoops. Pointless and draining, and potentially making your situation worse.

Anyway, rent reviews. Why the fuck aren't government welfare services all linked together with the IRD? It would actually make welfare fraud more awkward to commit AND negate the *need* for a lot of these useless hoops. If Rent Reviews were performed simply by an automated check of annual income of anyone living at that address then a whole wad of paper pushing just disappears in a poof of magical *I didn't want to fill this bullshit in in the first place*. Here's the thing, people are apparently concerned about some kind of intrusion of privacy... but wait the rent review relies on me giving them exactly the information that IRD would give them, why can't I just sign a document when I move into a government housing facility that says I'm OK with them receiving my information? They can't tell me that people might not be declaring their income properly to the IRD is an issue... because if they aren't declaring it to the IRD they aren't going to declare it to WINZ either. D'uh. The reverse however isn't true. I declare everything to the IRD, but it's easy to miss stuff when declaring to WINZ, and declaring stuff to WINZ when you're already desperately short of money - well lets just say sometimes that it can be easier to mislead WINZ - even knowing what a risk it is long term - than it is to lose some of your benefit. Or have to pay more rent. People avoid telling WINZ about changes in circumstance by and large not because they are happy to dupe the system but because losing even a tiny bit of income can be disasterous - and WINZ is not terrifically open to hearing about how your circumstances might actually not be what they appear on paper. Maybe they'd have more time for reality if they weren't so busy with all those fucking hoops.

So, while I am utterly useless at handing in paperwork on time, and completely hopeless at making appointments because I have to cancel due to illness so often, one would hope that a government whose soul purpose seems to be making people fill out more fucking paperwork would manage to be somewhat reliable at processing it. No. Besides their exciting habit of losing your documents (hint for young players, whenever you take anything in to the MAKE THEM TAKE A COPY AND DATE STAMP & SIGN BOTH OF THEM, trust me you will have less trouble with all sorts of things if you do this simple thing - the receptionist will scowl at you, but stand firm.) I handed in my rent review 1 month ago. Aware of their douchnozzlery I called them today to check on it. They don't know how much longer it would be. I explained why it was urgent (I like eating) and he said he's mark it as priority, but he still couldn't tell me how long it would be likely to take. This concerns me. Because The Girl's father is no longer paying child support, and she doesn't get a benefit (trying to deal with that, complicated by her anxiety hitting the roof if I can't go to WINZ meetings with her... there goes my illness fucking everybody's shit up again) And may not get a student allowance when she starts university because her fathers income is high. I have many impolite things to say about this. So I'm supporting both of us on one single persons *jobseekers* benefit - no, to be fair it isn't actually possible to do this. We are alive because of the kindness of family, friends and strangers. If we had to rely on the government we would have starved to death over winter. Back to the Rent Review... so I'm slightly concerned because last time (these things happen yearly) it took 3 months to complete. THREE MONTHS. THREE MONTHS, MULTIPLE COMPLAINTS, AND A LETTER TO THE MINISTRY. That letter got things moving really damn fast. I'm thinking I might just bypass the 4 more complaints over the next 2 months and just go straight to the head of Social Housing. Not Paula Bennett. I'm pretty sure she would just set fire to such a letter, on a moonless night during a satanic ritual. I feel like if I muck about any longer we may waste away while waiting. (I have lost quite a bit of weight thanks to not having sufficient money to feed us properly so that's a bonus, since my illness like to make me fat with all the lying down doing fuck all and such. 

I'm on a *jobseeker* benefit. I should be on a sickness benefit, it's stupid that I'm not. I have a permanent illness, and while it is POSSIBLE that I may be able to work under certain circumstances, I am not now, and there is no real way of knowing WHEN I will be. Especially since on top of my usual boring chronic illness I now have all these groovy new symptoms that they still haven't figured out what the fuck is going on. (That's a whole other whinge that I won't start - 18 months and they still haven't made any real headway on what's wrong. Because waiting lists, and other DHB fuckduggery). But the upshot is I'm in bed a lot, I feel like shit a lot, and I am in serious pain literally every single minute of the day. So fucking stupid hoops I have to jump through are literally making my life more fucking difficult. 

Part deux of what's pissing me off...

Recently they decided (apparently based on some survey they did in which we told them we wanted this - I don't fucking think so) that sick people would have their own kind of case manager (good) who (theoretically) know more about dealing with chronic illness (brilliant, if it wasn't just a theory) and would check in with these special case managers more often (terrible). OK it wouldn't necessarily be terrible, but they are going about it ALL WRONG. First each persons case should be looked at individually to see what's actually appropriate for them. I had to cancel an appointment I had today because I'm feeling like shit, and without my daughter here to make sure I don't fall down it wasn't a good plan for me to go. (This is also a problem for another day - I am increasingly unable to complete tasks by myself, and Kitty shouldn't be expected to be my caregiver, especially since she cannot claim a benefit herself (long story) and is planning to go to university in the coming year). That's likely to happen a lot. I could, potentially handle a monthly call - even a monthly skype - or I could handle an email catch up with the case manager, that would be ideal. All of these things would also be considerably less of a waste of a case managers time, as well as being far less of a stupid hassle for me. Until my medical certificates start saying, *can rehabilitate back into the workforce* rather than *totally FUBAR, forget it* these little catch ups are basically going to involve me saying, "yeah Hi, I'm still super fucked up - how are you?" and answering the question "what can we do to assist in your recovery?" with a series of things I know full well they are NEVER going to agree to fund. And "maybe we could help you find some training courses?" with "I can't afford them and also they are more or less the same as going to a job so why would you think I can do that?" And then summing up the situation with, "Find me a job I can do from bed, on my computer, that doesn't have an attached sense of urgency because there are days when even jabbing away at the keyboard is too much, and I am totally on board. Fund me in training for a higher grade of job I can do from my bed, on my computer, without harsh deadlines, and I am totally on board. Otherwise, see you next time, I'll let you know if I miraculously recover from this incurable permanent condition". Merry Fucking Christmas. 

So, under the pretence of *protecting the taxpayers investment* hundreds and thousands of hoops are jumped through by people who for a myriad of different reasons aren't very good and jumping through them. Money and time is wasted on things that could be down far more simply and with less looking down noses by bypassing all the dragging beneficiaries into pointless meetings, making them fill in pointless forms, making them look at EVERY job, whether it's actually even remotely suitable for them or not. The system could very easily and sensibly be streamlined to make it both more cost effective and less demeaning. 

The problem is I don't think the government sees that both those things are wins for them. i think the government WANTS beneficiaries feeling miserable about themselves, being forced into work they are unsuited for and always on the brink of losing their benefit. I think the government likes the air of futile panic that stinks up the average WINZ office. I think they think the money spent on pointlessly making things harder and driving beneficiaries into desperation is money well spentI'd be happy to believe that our government is the Evil Empire but JK does not have the cool to be Darth Vader.

Peace. Out.  

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