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Welfare Reforms Discussion at Auckland Women’s Centre 18 Sep 2013

Welfare Reforms – a discussion hosted by Auckland Women’s Centre

WelfareReforms_WomensCentre

A community discussion on the July benefit reforms and the obligation that people on a benefit now need to meet.

Presented by Work and Income staff James Bell, Community Liaison Advisor and Mary Underwood, Family Violence Response Coordinator.  Be a part of the discussion.

Wednesday 18th September, 1pm – 2.45pm

Auckland Women’s Centre, 4 Warnock Street, Grey Lynn

Please RSVP to Rochelle by Tuesday 17th September for catering purposes

skip@womenz.org.nz | 376 3227 x 203

 

Welfare Reform Drug Testing Policy Changes Come into Effect on 15 July 2013

A number of changes are being introduced to the welfare system from 15 July 2013.  One of these is the requirement for beneficiaries to take and pass a drug test if they’re referred to a job or a place on a training course where drug testing is part of the application process.

Jobs and drug testing

Around 40 per cent of jobs listed with Work and Income require applicants to pass a pre-employment drug test.

From 15 July 2013 where an employer or training provider asks for a pre-employment drug test as part of the application process for a suitable job, beneficiaries with work obligations will be required to take and pass that test.

What does drug testing involve?

Drug tests will be completed under a national drug testing standard. There are two types of tests, both usually needing a urine sample:

  1. A screening test which shows if drugs are present.
  2. An evidential test completed by an accredited laboratory which shows the type of drug and the amount present.

Most employers will only do the first screening test as this generally provides them with enough information to make a decision on whether to employ an applicant or not.

Meeting drug test obligations

Work and Income beneficiaries can fail their drug test obligations if:

  • a suitable job is available and they advise they can’t apply as they believe they will fail the drug test
  • they refuse to take the drug test for a suitable job
  • they have been referred to a suitable job or course and they fail the drug test.

What happens if a Work and Income beneficiary fails their drug test obligations?

In most cases:

  • The first time they do this, they will have to agree to stop using drugs so that they can pass a drug test in the future.
  • The second time they do this, they will have to agree to take and pass a drug test within 25 working days and provide verification of the passed result to Work and Income.

Beneficiaries should talk to Work and Income about how failing drug test obligations will affect their benefit payments.

Supporting beneficiaries to get help

Together with the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Social Development is establishing an ‘0800 Helpline’ for Work and Income beneficiaries who indicate that they would like support to resolve their drug issues.

The service has been set up for beneficiaries who require support as a result of the new pre-employment drug testing obligations. The service also provides support for people with alcohol problems, however the pre-employment drug testing obligation does not include testing for the presence of alcohol.

The Helpline service will provide:

  • screening for alcohol and other drug use issues
  • brief interventions to minimise harm or motivate change
  • referral to alcohol and other drug treatment services for a comprehensive assessment (where this is appropriate).

People who have a drug dependency or who are undertaking drug treatment won’t be sanctioned for failing their obligations, and can receive a deferral from being referred to drug-tested jobs or training.

Work and Income beneficiaries who engage with this service will be able to receive a deferral from their drug test obligations for a period of time.

Addiction and dependency

The policy is not aimed at people with addictions or dependency.  Comprehensive assessment for drug dependency will be carried out by parties suitably qualified for this work.

New funding has been provided for the 0800 service and specialist assessment.

What this will mean for your service

The Ministry of Social Development and Ministry of Health are working together to ensure both employers and beneficiaries are aware of what needs to happen. However, alcohol and other drug treatment services may get some more enquiries from employers with concerns about where to send people for drug testing, and some beneficiaries may contact you about drug testing or drug treatment.

You may get some self-referrals from beneficiaries prepared to take the first step even before they meet with their Work and Income case manager.  Such cases should be considered as part of your usual case-mix. If you are unable to provide treatment, for example because of a long waiting list, the Work and Income case manager may be able to help find appropriate services.

Registering as a testing agency with Work and Income

Organisations interested in registering as a testing agency for Work and Income to refer beneficiaries to, must comply with the New Zealand drug testing standard AS/NZ 4308:2008 – Procedures for specimen collection and the detection and quantitation of drugs of abuse in urine.

More information about what Work and Income is doing and our processes around drug testing will be made available on the Government Electronic Tendering Service (GETS) website in the next few weeks.

Other changes being introduced:

Warrants to arrest and travelling overseas

Two other changes that come into effect from 15 July include:

·         Beneficiaries with an arrest warrant issued in criminal proceedings that hasn’t been cleared 28 days after its issue will get a letter from Work and Income giving 10 working days to clear it. If the warrant isn’t cleared within 10 working days their benefit payment will be affected.

Those who are in care and receiving a hospital rate, Residential Support Subsidy or Residential Care Subsidy will be excluded from receiving a letter until they are discharged.

If a letter is sent to someone who is in hospital and doesn’t receive it and their benefit is stopped, they or someone who can act on their behalf should contact Work and Income and explain the reason for not clearing the warrant. Their payment will be reinstated and backdated. They will still have to clear their warrant within the required timeframe from when they are discharged.

If the New Zealand Police considers a beneficiary with an arrest warrant is a risk to public safety, their benefit can be stopped or affected immediately.

  • A requirement for all beneficiaries to let Work and Income know before they travel overseas.  Their benefit will automatically stop from the day after they leave New Zealand, unless they’ve told us before they go and Work and Income has agreed there are approved reasons that mean their payments can continue while they travel.

Factsheets about arrest warrants and travelling overseas can be found on the Work and Income website.

More information

Visit www.workandincome.govt.nz, and follow the link on the front page, or call Work and Income on 0800 559 009

WINZ Reviewing How They Work with People with Disabilities and Health Conditions

WINZ is seeking your views on how to assist disabled people and people with health conditions into work.

As part of the Government’s wider review of the welfare system, Work and Income is developing proposals for changing the way it works with disabled clients and clients with a health condition or mental-health condition.

To ensure the new approach is well-grounded we want people to share their views about what it will take to assist these jobseekers into work. Please go to www.msd.govt.nz/healthanddisability to share your views. This survey will be open to 5pm on Thursday 31 January.

The feedback will contribute to the development of proposals to be in place from 15 July 2013, and to a longer term work programme to assist disabled people and people with a health condition who can work, to have the opportunity to achieve that.

WINZ have held two public meetings and six sector workshops in November and December 2012.

There will also be an additional public workshop in Wellington on Thursday 31 January 2013 at St John’s Church hall (cnr Willis and Dixon Streets), 9.30 am to midday.  If you are interested in attending this meeting, please RSVP to msd_events@msd.govt.nz, and also advise any assistance you may need to enable you to participate.

If you have any questions, please contact Anne Hawker on 04 978 4142 or Sacha O’Dea on 04 916 3883. Alternatively you can email Anne.Hawker011@msd.govt.nz or Sacha.ODea001@msd.govt.nz

Externals Issue 4 – The Newsletter from Ministry of Social Development

EXTERNALS

Newsletter for health and disability professionals and organisations Issue 4 – July 2012

Introduction by the Principal Health and Disability Advisors

Externals has been created to keep you updated on news and events from across the Ministry of Social Development that relate to the Health and Disability sector.

Our aim with Externals is to cover the wide and diverse interests of the Health and Disability sector.

Externals is designed so your topic of special interest is easily found. If there are topics you’d like covered in our next issue, or you’d like to give us feedback, we’d like to hear from you.

Please contact the Principal Advisors:

*       David at david.bratt001@msd.govt.nz or

*       Anne at anne.hawker011@msd.govt.nz

Article index

*       What does Work and Income currently fund?

*       Disability Employment Innovation Fund

*       Save time online at workandincome.govt.nz

*       Future Focus – May 2011 Changes (Sickness benefit)

*       Breaking the cycle of welfare dependency

*       Productivity Allowance

*       Consensus Statement on the Health Benefits of Work from The Australasian Faculty of Occupational & Environmental Medicine

*       Changed process for monitored medical alarms paid through Disability Allowance

*       Skylight’s 2012 professional development courses

*       Apply online for NZ Superannuation

*       Reminders

*       Useful websites

*       Feedback

What does Work and Income currently fund?

Work and Income currently funds a range of services designed to support people to (re)enter into employment or undertake training irrespective of benefit. Work and income also provide assistance specifically for people with ill health or a disability.  Some of these are listed below .

Assistance generally available for main-benefit recipients

*       Flexi Wage Subsidies – are payments to assist towards wages and skills training for employers and community groups.

*       Job Search Service – supports people back to work as quickly as possible using either individualised or group job search activities.

*       Work Experience – designed to help clients gain up-to-date work experience, explore whether a job or career could be suitable from them, and to develop informal contacts.

*       Training Incentive Allowance – provides assistance to clients receiving certain types of benefits to undertake employment related training that will improve their skills and increase their chances of gaining employment.

*       Course Participation Assistance – provides financial assistance towards the actual and reasonable costs for a client participating in short-term employment related training.

*       Seasonal Work Assistance – provides financial assistance to workers who are unable to work (and lose income), due to poor weather conditions.

*       Transition to Work Grant – is paid to help with essential costs in regards to job searching and work placement costs.

*       Recoverable Assistance for Study – provides assistance to help sole parents receiving Domestic Purposes Benefit with study costs at level 4 or above on the National Qualifications Framework undertaking study towards being a doctor, nurse, midwife, vet or teacher.

*       Flexi-Wage Plus Self Employment – helps clients to investigate or enter self-employment by providing training and advice. Can include both a subsidy and a grant to help clients overcome barriers associated with moving into self employment.

*       Activity in the Community – aims to support clients through participation in community-based projects by offering opportunities to clients to gain voluntary unpaid experience in a community or voluntary organisation.

*       Skills for Industry programmes – funds industry-related training in order to provide employers with employees who are specifically trained to their entry level requirements and to enable Work and Income clients to access and keep employment that becomes sustainable.

*       Work Confidence – helps clients increase their motivation, confidence and job searching skills to move toward unsubsidised work or training.

Assistance available specifically for people with a disability or ill health

*       Invalid’s Benefit Employment Trial – allows a client to work 15 hours or more in open employment for up to 6 months while retaining their invalid’s benefit.

*       Employment Transition Assistance – is a non-taxable payment that is available for clients who have a reduced level of income after completing an employment trial.

*       Employment Coordinator – works with clients who have a disability or ill health, to assist them with gaining and maintaining employment.

*       Modification Grant – provides financial assistance for disabled people or people with ill health, so they can gain or retain employment.

*       Job Support – are grants and subsidies which help cover the additional costs incurred due to participation in employment.

*       Self Start – is a grant paid for support services that are needed when a person with ill health or a disability goes into self-employment.

*       Training Support – is a grant which covers additional costs incurred through participation in training, work experience, education or capacity assessments.

*       Mainstream – is a programme which provides a package of subsidies, training and other support to help people with significant disabilities get work in selected State and private sector organisations.

Disability Employment Innovation Fund

On 7 November 2011, Ministers Bennett and Turia announced the new Disability Employment Innovation Fund making $500,000 available for innovative ways of getting disabled people into work or retaining them in work. As the Ministers stated in their announcement, “A priority … is to get people into work. This fund supports disabled people into work and also supports employers to retain disabled workers.”

The Ministers set the expectations that the outcomes would inform the welfare reform work.

The fund was targeted to three areas:

*       Innovative projects from employers to retain current employees in employment who either have an existing disability or who have acquired a disability including chronic health condition or mental health condition.

*       Innovative projects from employers to get disabled people into employment.

*       Innovative projects from the NGO sector or disabled people organisations to support disabled people into self employment.

Sixty seven applications were received. The applications were assessed by a panel comprising Work and Income; MSD Policy; Employment Disability Forum and Employers’ Disability Network.

Seventeen applications were successful. For more information see:

http://www.odi.govt.nz/

http://www.workandincome.govt.nz/about-work-and-income/news/2012/disability-employment-innovation-fund-successful-applicants.html

 Save Time Online at workandincome.govt.nz: How to use WINZ online services

  • Use the self service kiosks in our office if you don’t have access to a computer.
  • You can search for work
  • You can search through thousands of job vacancies on Find a Job. It’s as easy as entering a job title and where you want to work. If you find a job you’d like, call us.
  • You can check what you might be eligible for You can check the types of financial assistance you may be eligible for by answering a series of questions. This is a research tool only and you can’t apply for any financial assistance here.
  • You can apply for financial assistance
  • You can complete and submit your online application form. You’ll need to create a username and password before you begin. This tool will also help you determine what type of financial assistance you may be entitled to.
  • You don’t have to complete your application form in one sitting. You can save your application, then log out. When you come back, you’ll be taken to your last saved page. Partially completed applications will be saved for 60 days.

Before you begin, you’ll need the following information at hand. If you have a partner, they’ll also need to answer some questions and have this information handy:

*       IRD number (contact Inland Revenue if you don’t have it)

*       bank account numbers

*       last pay slip (this will show your holiday pay)

*       income details for the last 52 weeks

*       details of your housing costs

*       details of any assets you own which could earn income

*       details of any debts that you have (including hire purchases).

If you need help with your online application you can contact 0800 559 009 – please say “Online help” when you are asked to say why you are calling. Or you can email us at: OnlineSupport@WorkandIncome.govt.nz

For further details on the online services  http://www.workandincome.govt.nz/online-services/

For further details on line application process – http://www.workandincome.govt.nz/online-services/the-application-process.html

Future Focus – May 2011 Changes (Sickness benefit)

1.      How does the sanction process work and how will it be applied for SB clients?

The Future Focus package is about helping people on benefits get back into work as quickly as possible. We believe that paid work is the best route to independence and well being for most people because it increases self esteem, provides financial independence and gives our children positive role models.

People on benefits that have work obligations won’t be penalised for not getting a job, but they may have their benefit reduced or suspended if they’re not actively looking for one. Work obligations mean they must be available for and take reasonable steps to find suitable work.

For more information about sanctions go to: http://www.workandincome.govt.nz/about-work-and-income/news/future-focus-2010/sanctions.html

2.      What assistance is there for employers taking on clients with part-time capacity and health and disability barriers?

Work and Income helps clients move into jobs that are the right fit for their competencies and career choices.

From 2 May 2011 we will be working closely with a targeted group of Sickness Benefit clients to identify suitable employment opportunities for their circumstances and support them to move towards getting a job.

Work and Income also provides a range of assistance designed to support clients to (re)enter into employment or undertake training, and support employers taking on our clients.

Some examples include:

*       Flexi Wage Subsidies – Wage subsidies are payments to assist towards wages and skills training for employers and community groups.

*       Modification Grant – Modification grants can be paid to the employer or the employee to remove physical barriers to work.

*       Skills for industry programmes – These programmes are available for all benefit types including disabled people and people with ill health on Sickness Benefits.

3.      What assistance is available to help clients with paying fees for getting a medical certificate completed?

Clients are required to pay for their medical certificates. In the early stages of a medical condition most clients will already be consulting their GP regularly, so that the number of truly additional visits should not be significant.

It is not unreasonable to expect a person to see their doctor twice in the first eight weeks of benefit receipt. More frequent assessment is likely to reduce benefit dependency at the early stages of illness or disability when people are usually closer to the labour market. The longer people are on benefits, the more likely they are to lose the confidence they need to participate in work.

If the client’s medical condition is likely to last at least six months, they may be eligible for a Disability Allowance (DA). If the client qualifies for Disability Allowance, the costs of medical assessments can be included.

Disability Assistance brochure is at:

http://www.workandincome.govt.nz/individuals/forms-and-brochures/disability-assistance-guide.html

4.      Will people on SB be better off taking a low paid job for part-time hours? (Abatement and Better-off calculators, etc)

Yes. Paid work has been shown to increase people’s well being and aid recovery from illness or injury. There is strong evidence to show that work minimises the harmful physical, mental and social effects of being out of work for a long time through sickness.

Abatement Factsheet is at:

http://www.msd.govt.nz/about-msd-and-our-work/newsroom/factsheets/future-focus/abatement.html

Breaking the cycle of welfare dependency

As part of the Government’s commitment to transforming the benefit system, promoting self reliance and recognising people’s work potential, changes are proposed for introduction at the end of July to support young people at risk of long term welfare dependency.

The new Youth Service will support 16 and 17-year-olds not in education, training or work, as well as 16 to 17 year olds and young parents up to 18 years old who need financial support. It will offer hands-on guidance and financial support for young people who are on a benefit or at risk of coming onto a benefit.

Youth Service is about stepping in early and targeting support to help young people gain the skills they need to be independent.

Young people who need financial support

Over half the young people who first enter the benefit system at 16 or 17 years old spend at least five of the next 10 years on a benefit.   The new service will mean these young people will:

*       Be helped by contracted Youth Service providers into education, training or work-based learning.

*       Have assistance with managing money through budgeting assistance, and a new form of payment where essential costs such as rent and power can be paid directly. The young person will receive an in-hand allowance of up to $50 and the remainder will be loaded onto a payment card for groceries.

*       Young people can receive a $10 a week incentive if they regularly attend classes and a budgeting course. A similar incentive is offered for young parents who attend parenting courses.

*       A Guaranteed Childcare Assistance Payment will mean that childcare costs will not stop young parents in this age group from studying.

Young people not in work, education or training

*       Youth Service providers will work with 16 to 17 year olds to help them into education, training or work-based learning.

*       The Ministries of Education and Social Development will share information to help identify school leavers most at risk of coming on to a benefit, so that Youth Service providers can step in early with the right support.

Productivity Allowance

What is Productivity Allowance?

The Productivity Allowance is a wage subsidy paid to an employer.  Workbridge administers this subsidy on behalf of the Ministry of Social Development.

The subsidy is paid to assist the employer while the employee gains skills and establishes the types of supports available to any employee starting a new job.  Like other new employees, disabled people increase their productivity the longer they are in employment.  The subsidy recognises the additional support the disabled person requires over and above the support that would be offered to any other employee.  The outcome of the subsidy is the creation of an inclusive and sustainable employment environment for the disabled person.

The job can be full-time or part-time.  It must be open employment and meet the minimum terms and conditions of employment (such as minimum wage), and not be receiving government funding for the same activity.

Why do all Productivity Allowances have a fading plan?

All Productivity Allowances have a ‘fade out’ plan whereby the subsidy reduces 5% every six months.  The maximum period for this subsidy is 52 weeks at which time the employee will need to reapply.  Any subsequent Productivity Allowance continues with the fade out plan.

Fade out plans are put in place to ensure a continuous flow of funds are available for other disabled people entering the workforce or new jobs.  The subsidy is at its highest when the disabled employee will require the most assistance and support, but fades as the person becomes more established in their job.

If you would like to find out more about Productivity Allowances contact your local Workbridge Centre Manager:

www.workbridge.co.nz

Call free 0508 858 858

Consensus Statement on the Health Benefits of Work from The Australasian Faculty of Occupational & Environmental Medicine

At the heart of this consensus statement regarding the health benefits of work is a shared desire to improve the welfare of individuals, families and communities. Realising the health benefits of work for all Australians requires a paradigm shift in thinking and practice. It necessitates cooperation between many stakeholders, including government, employers, unions, insurance companies, legal practitioners, advocacy groups, and the medical, nursing and allied health professions. We, the undersigned, commit to working together to encourage and enable Australians to achieve the health and wellbeing benefits of work. We acknowledge the following fundamental principles about the relationship between health and work.

For more information http://www.racp.edu.au/index.cfm?objectid=57063EA7-0A13-1AB6-E0CA75D0CB353BA8

Changed process for monitored medical alarms paid through Disability Allowance

The Ministry of Social Development has introduced a new accreditation process for suppliers of medical alarms to over 51,000 clients who have the cost of their monitored medical alarm paid through Disability Allowance.

What are the changes?

*       The cost of providing monitored medical alarm services paid through the Disability Allowance has gone down.

*       Medical alarm suppliers have new high quality service standards to meet.

*       From 1 March 2012 only companies which have met the new standards and provide value for money are allowed to be ‘accredited’ medical alarm suppliers.

The nine accredited medical alarm suppliers are: (in alphabetical order):

*       ADT Armourguard (incorporating Signature Security, Eldersafe, HomeGuard, Safe Secure, Careguard, Radius Heal)

*       BUPA Care Services Ltd (incorporating Guardians, Guardians Help Phone)

*       Chubb Medical

*       Freedom Medical Alarms (incorporating Freedom Medical Alarms Christchurch, Masterton South Rotary Club (Alarms), Abel Assist)

*       Kiwi Concern (NZ) Ltd (incorporating 3C Personal Alarms, Constantly Secure Medical Alarms, AlphaCare Medical Alarms, Help Phone North)

*       Safe Link Ltd (incorporating Help Phone Wellington)

*       Senior Care Ltd

*       St John (incorporating Procare, Safe House)

*       Tunstall Lifecare.

Further information is on the Ministry’s website at http://www.msd.govt.nz/about-msd-and-our-work/work-programmes/medical-alarms/medical-alarms-landing-page.html

Skylight’s 2012 professional development courses

Skylight’s professional development courses cover a broad cross section of issues relating to the impact of change, loss, trauma and grief on children, young people, adults and their families, friends and community. Skylight facilitators work with individuals and organisations to provide workshops and training modules to suit their specific needs. Training can be arranged at whatever venue works best for you.

In 2012, Skylight’s training programme will run two series for people working with children and young people; ‘Talking to Kids About…’ and ‘Talking to Teens About…’. Topics for these workshops include ‘Eating Disorders’, ‘Addictions’, ‘Anger’, and ‘Risky Behaviour’. These workshops are of particular value to health professionals, family and community support workers. For more information, please contact:

*       Linda Karlin, Manager Counselling & Training 04 9396760 or lindal@skylight-trust.org.nz

*       Aileen Davidson, Training Coordinator 04 9396767 or aileen@skylight-trust.org.nz

Apply online for NZ Superannuation

Turning 65? People can now apply online for NZ Superannuation. Feedback from applicants about the application has been positive. They tell us it gives them more choice and control over how they apply for NZ Superannuation and makes the process easier for them.

Apply online on the Senior Services website: www.seniors.msd.govt.nz

Reminders

Visit the Senior Services website

If seniors need information about entitlements, support or how to get in touch with us visit the seniors website: www.seniors.msd.govt.nz Ask a Question on the Senior Services website If older people have questions and need answers they can use our Ask a Question tool on our website: www.seniors.msd.govt.nz The quickest way to get an answer to your question is to search our Find Answers page.

Email updates

People can now receive seniors-related information from us by emailing the following details to us at: seniors@msd.govt.nz

*       Name and Address

*       Client number (found on the back of the SuperGold card)

*       Email address.

 

Useful websites

Ministry of Social Development          www.msd.govt.nz

Work and Income                         www.workandincome.govt.nz

Senior Services                         www.seniors.msd.govt.nz

StudyLink                               www.studylink.govt.nz

Child, Youth and Family         www.cyf.govt.nz

Office for Senior Citizens              www.osc.govt.nz

Office for Disability Issues            www.odi.govt.nz

 

Feedback

Remember, we welcome your suggestions and ideas. Did you find the newsletter useful, what can be done to make it more useful, and what worked or didn’t work? Please send any feedback to Anne at anne.hawker011@msd.govt.nz or David at david.bratt001@msd.govt.nz

Senior Services Seminar in Papakura

 

Date:               Tuesday September 27th 2011

Venue:          Selwyn Homestead, 21 Youngs Road, Papakura

Time:             10am – 12noon

Content:      What are you entitled to?

How do I maximize my entitlements?

How & where do I access Senior Services?

Plenty of time to get answers to the questions you may have wanted to ask  but perhaps been too shy to in the past

What else?             

  • Morning tea provided
  • Bookings essential as numbers limited & for catering purposes
  • Free of charge but donations towards costs always appreciated!

For further information or to register your interest in attending this course:   

  • Ring the Age Concern Office: 09 279-4331 Ext 800      
  • Email: admin@accm.org.nz
  • Fax: 279 4334