My column on the RadioLive website this afternoon highlights how the government have failed in their promise to deliver better public services. Think how many work hours are lost every day as people ring govt 0800 numbers and wait, and wait, and wait…
Despite National’s promise to move resources ‘from the back office to the front line’ we’ve seen local frontline public services scaled back or closed, while the never-ending list of government 0800 numbers continues to grow.
Take Housing New Zealand for example. The Government has closed the doors of local branches and directed people to an 0800 number where they can wait over an hour just to have their call answered.
Housing New Zealand are a bit better than the IRD though. If you’re calling the govt to make sure you’re paying all your taxes, you could be up for a wait of several hours!
Work and Income call centre statistics aren’t that much better either. Last year some poor soul spent one hour and 10 minutes waiting for their call to the government “job line” to be answered. 6,500 people gave up trying to get through. No doubt Paula Bennett will try to argue that they’re lazy and unwilling to work when actually what they weren’t willing to do was sit around for hours waiting for the government to answer the phone.
I think it’s good that the government is providing a greater range of ways to access public services, such as through 0800 numbers and improved use of online communications, but they need to be properly resourced. New technology isn’t always cheaper, in fact sometimes it costs more to realise the full benefits of it.