May 30, 2023
More empathy needed on benefit debt
Auckland Action Against Poverty is backing the call for an amnesty on welfare-related debts to agencies like Inland Revenue or Work and Income.
Spokesperson Brooke Stanley Pao says IRD and the Ministry for Social Development don’t talk to each other, which can lead to beneficiaries or Working for Families recipients racking up debts through mismanagement and human error.
She the agencies seem oblivious to the damage they do to people’s lives.
“There’s just a real lack of awareness and empathy and I think these institutions that exist that are meant to serve people in the community don’t actually do that. They’re not designed to do that. They’re designed to recover money,” she says.
Brooke Stanley Pao says the racist nature of the system can be seen from the way Work and Income claws back debt from women and Māori at a higher rate than it does if you are male and pakeha.