26 Nov 2010

WINZ seen as "menacing and punitive"

9:22 am on 26 November 2010

An alternative group looking into welfare reform claims Work & Income has become a "menacing and punitive environment" for many beneficiaries.

The Welfare Justice group has issued a report on a series of public meetings it held with beneficiaries around the country.

Chair Mike O'Brien says a move away from personal case managers has led to a loss of respect between Work & Income staff and beneficiaries.

He says many beneficiaries have found the Work & Income climate has become aggressive and intimidating.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says change was necessary because 40% of beneficiaries fail to keep appointments and case managers found themselves sitting around.

She says staff are there to help, but they also have rules and regulations to enforce.