Recently I took part in a Colmar Brunton survey about Work and Income, which was commissioned by the Ministry for Social Development. The questions were… interesting. So I requested them under OIA.
To their credit, MSD actually gave me more information than I was asking for, which seems like a rare occurrence.
In addition to asking for the questions used in the survey, I asked them who commissioned the survey, what for, and how much it cost.
Here’s part of the response:
Interesting that they’ve been doing this since 1997. I wonder if services have improved as a result?
MSD says the figures for this particular survey are not available yet, however the cost in 2013/14 was $541,857 (ex GST).
I know these surveys are incredibly important. But I did think a little bit about about Camel Sepuloni asking the Minister for Social Development if she had confidence in her Ministry to exercise financial due diligence.
MSD provided the whole script to me, and it’s utterly fascinating (well, I thought so anyway).
The first bit was what I expected – how satisfied was I with WINZ services, etc etc. It was this “flexi section” that caught my attention, and what caused me to request the questions afterwards.
The first thing that caught my attention was the restated reassurance that anything I said wasn’t going to effect my benefit or relationship with WINZ. I guess I wasn’t the only one concerned that a complaint might have financial repercussions.
Secondly – I’m uncertain how what I think about going to work will help improve Work and Income services. Are they wanting to know how to convince people that going to work is better than being on a benefit? I “strongly agreed” that all of these were good reasons for going to work, but none of them are necessary requirements. I’m genuinely curious about the reasoning behind this question. I guess I should have asked that too.
Next was this one:
It seemed obvious to me that all of these are very valid reasons why it’d be difficult to get a job. This was followed by:
I think I agreed or strongly agreed that these were reasons it would be difficult to keep a job.
I know that surveys are all about personal opinion. But why is my opinion that sickness is a very valid reason not to keep a job relevant to Work and Income? These seem like ideological questions, and nothing to do with the services I’ve received. I was sort of expecting someone to jump out at any minute and say “Oh! You think not liking the work is a good enough reason for stopping a job, do you? That must be really why you’re not working now, and this incurable illness thing is just a feint.”
Perhaps I need to do another Official Information Act request to ask what they wanted these opinions for – and what the results were.