Student Allowance Delays Not New - MccardleAssociate Minister of Social Services, Work and Income (Work and Income)
"Delays in processing student allowances are not new, and happened last year and in every other year when tertiary institutions handled allowances," Associate Work and Income Minister Peter McCardle said today.
He was responding to criticism over WINZ's processing of student allowance applications.
"The current process, which uses new technology and systems, does need improvement in some areas, and those are being made," he said.
"But WINZ is now paying allowances to many more students than last year, when tertiary institutions and the Ministry of Education handled the process.
"WINZ has received more than 50,000 applications and three quarters of these students have received their first payment in the week it was due. This is faster than in previous years. Of the remaining applications yet to be finalised, further information is required from either institutions or the students themselves.
"Many of the problems stem from forms not being filled out properly by students, important documents missing, and huge numbers of last-minute applications.
"However similar things happened in earlier years for the same reasons. There were delays and other problems then, with 70 per cent of forms being incomplete, or with mistakes, and a deluge of late applications.
"There was no media outcry because the problem was not focussed on one organisation, unlike now. Each institution dealt with the situation locally. I have newspaper cuttings from the past, one of which from 3 years ago has the headline "Students Weep at Fund Delays".
"WINZ has actually cut the overall processing time per application compared to last year. I accept that in its first year of operation there are areas for improvement, and I would urge any students having a problem to contact WINZ to address the situation," Mr McCardle concluded.