• Peter McCardle
Associate Minister of Work and Income

Associate Work and Income Minister Peter McCardle said some critics have short memories about welfare services in the past, as services provided today are much better. "People who claim that things haven't improved are just not living in the real world, and research proves that," he said.

Independent customer satisfaction surveys are carried out regularly by Forsyte Research, which monitors beneficiaries' interactions with WINZ.

"The latest available results, for the June quarter, show the level of satisfaction at 85 per cent, which means WINZ is exceeding its target of 70 per cent. That target is set by the Government, and laid down in the Purchase Agreement, although WINZ has its own internal satisfaction target which is higher," Mr McCardle said.

"Key changes have been bringing in booked appointments and controlling random queuing. In the past, long queues in welfare and employment offices were the norm. People did not book an appointment for an interview with a staff member. They often had to wait hours before seeing anyone.

"I saw it for myself when in earlier years I worked for Income Support and the Employment Service, with queues shuffling along slowly as the backdrop to my working day. People were often frustrated by having to queue and interviews were generally very brief, unlike today.

"WINZ's appointment system is a huge improvement. The long queues are gone. Beneficiaries now make appointments through a call centre, rather than wasting their time queuing. The standard time for answering calls to call centres is less than thirty seconds.

"Another improvement is that people now have specialised case managers who know their personal circumstances. Jobseekers no longer have to deal with a different person at each visit.

"Interviews are long and thorough due to the new approach of intensive case management, which essentially means looking at a person's entire life circumstances to work out what is the best way ahead for them.

"People needing employment get more help to find work and to escape the dead end of long term benefit dependence.

"WINZ offices are open-plan, with interviews carried out at desks, but there is a private room available for people who seek more privacy during an interview.

"In light of these changes I cannot accept claims from critics that things were better in the past.

"No organisation is perfect. To a degree there will always be dissatisfaction with any welfare system, especially one serving around a million New Zealanders. Some people on a benefit will always be unhappy about the welfare organisation they deal with.

"However I am absolutely convinced the changes this Government has introduced have led to better service for beneficiaries," he said.


Media contact: Philip Keating Press Secretary 04 4719366 025 477996