“.. The saga started in August 2010 when Holmes wrote to Winz wanting to know why a $3.73 benefit increase (known as the annual general adjustment) was not paid until May 19 – when it should have been paid on April 15.
Winz misunderstood his request and did not bother to seek clarification, a statutory requirement under the Privacy Act.
The agency took almost a year to fully respond.
Under its own rules it is supposed to respond within 20 working days or seek a formal extension.
Holmes made another request in October 2010, for information about his previous application for a benefit supplement – known as temporary additional support – because he needed money for an eye test to renew his driver’s licence.
Because of the way the application had been handled the agency concluded Holmes had not made the application -
- and failed to provide the information.
Instead it told him to reapply for the supplement.
A year passed before the information was eventually provided.
The Human Rights Tribunal criticised the way Winz dealt with Holmes – saying its handlings of his requests had breached the Privacy Act -
- and forced “an impoverished beneficiary” with poor eyesight and lack of phone or email to seek redress.
The tribunal reminded Winz its staff should be “understanding and caring about the needs of those they serve” – and hoped to see an improvement in the relationship with Holmes.
Through Crown Law, Winz is fighting the decision – and the case will be heard in the Dunedin High Court on Wednesday.
“In particular we are appealing the order that we review our processes.” ”
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