The Social Development Minister must urgently step in to resolve serious problems with the new Work and Income IT system which is preventing access to emergency food grants and housing.
That’s the damning view of Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni, following a botched upgrade of a number of different management systems into one.
After launching on Monday March 7 at 7am, the system began to struggle once WINZ staff logged onto the system, slowing the process down and preventing superannuitants and beneficiaries from accessing the website.
Following the IT failures, Social Development Minister Anne Tolley confirmed the system had “capacity issues”.
“We took some steps knowing that we would have a slow-down this week, but it's been greater than was expected and so there have been some delays,” Tolley told Stuff.
“We know that that's frustrating for some people but we're back up at about 90 per cent now, and anticipating we'll be at 100 per cent by the end of the week."
Since the admission, Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni believes Tolley “must take responsibility” for these failures as it is affecting a wide range of people including those applying for new benefits.
“Budget advisors are saying they’re dealing with clients in increasingly desperate situations because of these problems,” Sepuloni says.
“WINZ staff are also reporting their inability to access information or to process grants and new benefits. What’s even more worrying is that some say they’ve known about these problems with the system and that’s why the roll-out was delayed three times.”
Sepuloni says Labour understands thousands of WINZ clients a week are affected by this and the Minister must give an assurance that their proper care is being immediately addressed.
“The Minister should have fronted up and told people about the IT system failure, not waited for Labour to make it public,” Sepuloni claims.
“With WINZ’s bad track record with IT systems, Anne Tolley should have had an extra close eye on this project.”