National welfare spokesperson Judith Collins is worried about the amount of debt beneficiaries are getting into and the rising number of staff tasked to manage the problem.
Under National the problem wouldn't improve, it would get worse. Why do I say that?
One of the biggest contributors to debt accrual is sanctions. Under National policies more sanctions were imposed. For example benefit payments were reduced for non-compliance with work tests. Under Labour sanctions still apply but with full backdated reinstatement on compliance. This was done specifically to reduce indebtedness.
Work and Income operates like a bank. When clients need something extraordinary they apply for a grant or benefit advance. When their benefit won't cover costs they apply for extra hardship assistance. Some grants have to be repaid, others do not. Some debts arise out of overpayment. Some from fraud. The system drives the debt.
The debt problem has become this large because SO many people rely on Work and Income. But again, like spending $45,000 for TVs for prisoners, this is just a peripheral issue. It's a symptom of the problem. Again this is National attacking symptoms, not the condition.
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