Annual Report 2016-17 cover

Delivering a seamless and easy client experience

Our clients have told us they want to do more for themselves in terms of accessing services at times and places that suit them. We provide services to over a million New Zealanders every year, so it is important clients can easily access our services in user-friendly and modern ways.

Simplification programme

Simplification is about redesigning our transactional services. It provides a simpler service that makes far greater use of digital channels including mobile, web, voice, and other electronic transmission services. Simplification’s successful delivery of technology and business change means clients are now doing more for themselves at times and places that suit them and without always needing to travel to a site or call us.


During 2016/2017 we continued to expand client services on MyMSD. MyMSD is an easy-to-use mobile web service that gives clients trust and confidence in our services, empowers clients by giving them ability to update their personal information, and saves significant time and effort. It was co-designed with clients to make sure it uses language clients are familiar with, is easy to navigate, and provides the information and features clients said they most wanted.

Use of MyMSD has gone from strength to strength, with more than 7 million logins up to 30 June 2017. Clients can now view and update many of their details (including letting us know what they have earned each week), manage their own appointments, and apply for help with food, school uniform and school start-up costs without needing to travel to one of our service centres.

We have seen good progress in the month-on-month uptake of MyMSD digital services, with 60 percent of clients who work part-time now using the platform to let us know about their income each week. This equates to over 10,000 transactions every week that clients complete without calling or visiting a service centre.

In a public sector first, we have negotiated a reduced-cost data arrangement (Cheap As) with the four main telecommunications networks. This means that it costs clients nothing or very little to access and use MyMSD.

Voice-enabled technology

About 80 percent of all client calls are now categorised and routed by voice-enabled technology. This means more clients are directed through to the right service promptly and first time.

Electronic medical certificates

Our e-lodgement service was further extended with GPs. Now 87 percent of work capacity medical certificates are lodged electronically, saving time for busy medical practices. This also means that over 1,200 clients a day do not have to go into one of our offices to drop off medical certificates and are assured the certificate has been lodged securely.

Process automation

We are working hard to make it easier for our clients to access the financial services and support they need. Automating processes will allow our staff to increase their focus on the activities that make a real difference to our clients’ lives and lead to better outcomes for families and communities.

During 2016/2017 we:

  • introduced a generic online application form that is easier for working-age and senior applicants to complete
  • introduced an appointments ‘window’ for some application types, so clients have more flexibility, rather than having to attend an appointment at a specific time
  • moved most payments letters online into MyMSD, so that now we only post letters if a client specifically asks us to do so
  • streamlined business processes by eliminating unnecessary steps and centralising processing, so some appointments can be shorter
  • enabled some online contact detail changes, wage declarations, and medical certificates to be processed automatically.

Client Debt Management Strategy

In 2016/2017 we launched a Client Debt Management Strategy to focus our efforts on reducing the overall level of debt created and to optimise the amount of debt collected. We want to make it easier for clients to tell us about changes in their circumstances so they can avoid debt.

The Strategy aims to minimise client debt, as excessive levels of debt can form a barrier to clients moving towards independence.

It has four strategic themes:

  • making it easy for clients to understand and comply with their obligations, for example by using behavioural insights when communicating with clients
  • working smarter – having the right systems and processes and using the right information to minimise debt, for example by developing predictive analytic models to better target fraud and debt activities
  • working together – having effective interagency relationships and processes in place to minimise debt, for example through enhancing data matching and information sharing
  • reviewing policy and legislation to ensure our policy frameworks effectively support the minimisation of debt.

This work contributes to the following Ministry outcomes:

  • More people into sustainable work and out of welfare dependency
  • More people are able to participate in and contribute positively to their communities and society
  • Fewer people commit fraud and the system operates with fairness and integrity

During 2016/2017:

30,296 main benefit applications were made online including 55% of JobSeeker Support applications

80% of calls are categorised and routed by voice-enabled technology meaning more clients are directed to the right service first time

5,992 cases of suspected benefit fraud were investigated

Optimising debt recovery

In 2016/2017 we realigned our debt collection systems to ensure that our efforts are focused on higher-value work and are committed to optimising debt collection rates and encourage the use of online channels to make it easier for clients to view and understand their debt. In 2016/2017 there was a significant increase in the number of people viewing their debt balances and repayments in MyMSD.

Information sharing with Inland Revenue

Our information-sharing programme with Inland Revenue has improved so that:

  • more clients who have been identified as being overpaid have their payments corrected
  • overpayments are identified earlier and more efficiently
  • clients are encouraged to change their behaviour by complying voluntarily with income declaration requirements.

Benefit Review Committees [58]

Benefit Review Committees (BRCs) carry out independent reviews of any decision we make that has a bearing on a client’s income support or pension. A BRC is made up of two people from MSD who were not involved in the original decision, and one other person appointed by the Minister of Social Development.

In 2016/2017 we received 4,736 applications for review of a decision. Of these, 3,151 were resolved before going to the BRC. The remaining 1,202 applications were resolved by a BRC: 912 (76 percent) confirmed the original decision, 129 (11 percent) varied the original decision, 157 (13 percent) were revoked, and four were outside the jurisdiction of the BRC. The number of review outcomes pending as at 30 June 2017 was 383.


[58] The figures below do not include any decisions on Student Allowances made under the Education Act 1989, which are subject to a separate review process and do not go to a BRC.