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Statement of Intent - 2004 - Part 1

Strengthening our customer focus - pages 26-27

Supporting cross-government strategies

As we have relationships both directly and indirectly with most New Zealanders, we are an important contributor to a number of cross-government strategies that aim to improve the outcomes for specific groups within the community. For example:

  • New Zealand Disability Strategy: our initiatives include removing physical barriers to people with disabilities, and enhancing access to our information through the internet. We are also assessing the implications of the New Zealand Sign Language Bill for our services.
  • Positive Ageing Strategy: our initiatives include reviewing policies around superannuation contributions and services to ensure that they are appropriate for older taxpayers.
  • Relationships with community, voluntary and tangata whenua organisations: Government wants to strengthen the links between itself and the different communities within New Zealand. We are currently assessing our relationships in terms of the Statement of Government Intentions for an improved community-government relationship.

Our progress in implementing these various initiatives are reported to the Ministry of Social Development for inclusion in their annual strategy reports to Parliament.

We are also working alongside other agencies in delivering services to the community. For example, through our participation in the Heartlands programme, a cross-government initiative for delivering services in rural communities.

Student loans

We provide student loan services to approximately 390,000 student loan borrowers, who collectively owe $5.27 billion, as at 30 June 2003. We have introduced a number of initiatives over the past year to assist these borrowers to understand their repayment obligations. We introduced the owezero website, providing borrowers with online calculators and a range of other information, and upgraded the information available on our website. We continue to provide, in conjunction with StudyLink, student loan information seminars, and our Social Policy Liaison Officers attend relevant events to provide information for borrowers.

During the year, we processed approximately 1.7 million student loan repayments. The number of student loans paid in full during the 2002-03 year was 21,770, in line with our expectations of the student loan scheme, and the percentage of overdue student loan debt remains small at 1.92% of the total balance.

However, to ensure borrowers find it easy to meet their repayment obligations, we are introducing credit card payments in 2004. This initiative is targeted at non-resident borrowers, who find other means of payment difficult and time-consuming, and constitute a disproportionate number of borrowers with an overdue obligation.

Child support

Our Child Support plan, Looking Forward to 2010, has three goals:

  • customer independence
  • highly capable Child Support team
  • adding value to the community.

Customer independence supports our child support outcome of Parents living apart maintain financial responsibility for their children. This outcome is wider than Inland Revenue simply collecting and redistributing child support payments. It also recognises that we enable parents, where they are able, to negotiate their own agreements, so removing the need for our involvement. We will further develop customer independence by enhancing our relationships with the community, developing appropriate services and easy to use delivery channels that meet customers' needs, and removing the barriers to self-management.

To deliver the right outcomes for customers and government we need to have the right people who contribute to a highly capable Child Support team. Our people need to be customer-focused, knowledgable and professional. They need to acquire, apply and reinforce their learning, demonstrating understanding of impacts and consequences. We will ensure this by focusing on our customer relationships, continuing to develop our capability for now and the future, and recognising and rewarding our people and our achievements.

We add value to the community through our contribution to supporting families. We do this through:

  • encouraging payment of child support in full and on time and actively managing debt when it does occur so custodial parents receive their entitlements
  • effectively and efficiently applying our resources to get the best possible overall results
  • influencing public perception about child support so the community regards paying child support as contributing to families
  • contributing to wider government outcomes for families.

Addressing child support non-compliance and debt

We are investing in our Child Support function to further address child support non-compliance and debt. This investment will allow us to address a number of compliance issues including: responding to case numbers that are growing at 3% per year; reducing the child support assessment debt growth rate to 12% for 2004-05, and raising the percentages of payments made in full and on time to at least 70% by 2006-07.

We expect to achieve these improvements in compliant behaviour through the earlier collection of debts and improved education about the scheme to new liable parents.

We are also striving to decrease the amount of child support owed by parents now living in Australia. We have agreed with the Australian Child Support Agency that we will immediately exchange approximately 1,500 reciprocal agreement cases where we have confirmed that the paying parent lives in Australia. We have also agreed that our joint long-term aim is to ensure that regardless of whether parents live in New Zealand or Australia, moving between countries will not become a reason to default on their child support obligations. Both agencies will ensure that similar ongoing enforcement action is taken on non-compliers.

In addition, legislative changes proposed as part of the Child Support Amendment Bill will focus on improving compliance and seek to address child support avoidance.

 

 

 

 


Date published: 16 Nov 2004

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