A solo mother has had her benefit halved, just eight weeks after having a new baby, because she failed to attend an appointment with Work and Income.The subsequent child policy was imposed in October 2012. This baby was conceived after that date. Looks like the mother was already on the DPB caring for her 15 year-old daughter. She would have had full-time work obligations as her daughter was 14+. Having a new baby would only give her one year free from those obligations. She may have been told she had to look for full-time work when the baby was one. (That she gave birth via Caesarean section is irrelevant.)
Leanne Griffin, 39, went to Work and Income's Albany office one week after giving birth by Caesarean section to tell the agency about her new son, Blair. She was surprised to be told that she had to look for full-time work.
"I was speechless. I didn't know what to say," she said. "I had a week-old baby who I'm feeding."So this incident with WINZ happened 7 weeks ago.
She had taken her hospital discharge papers to confirm she had had a baby, but said her case manager had refused to look at the papers, saying she needed a birth certificate. Ms Griffin did not receive the birth certificate until last week.
Instead, the case manager asked why she had not attended two previous appointments she'd made with Work and Income when she was looking for a house to rent and needed an advance for the bond.It appears that failing to keep these appointments (and/or a later one) is the reason for having her benefit cut. The cut isn't due to failure to meet a work-test. Just as a side note, notice the taxpayer is expected to fund her new home but she can and is living with her in-laws currently. What of their responsibility for their absent son and grandchild?
She cancelled both appointments when she failed to secure the houses and is staying with her baby's paternal grandparents in Torbay until she can find a home. The baby's father has admitted himself to rehabilitation after a long history of drug use.
Ms Griffin, who also cares for her 15-year-old daughter and has an 8-year-old son not in her care, said she told the case manager she wanted to finish a degree in social work which she has started at Massey University. But the case manager "didn't really want to know". "She was more interested in getting me into full-time work. She made it clear it was full-time."WINZ aren't going to fund mature students indefinitely any more.Some of the resource has been channelled into getting younger people educated and capable. That's sensible.
At one stage, she paused, looked at her computer a while, then said: "Pause 30 seconds and resume interview." Ms Griffin said: "I looked around to see who she was talking to. She was just so cold and horrible throughout the meeting."Sounds like Ms Griffin might also have been quite a 'difficult' client to provoke this response. If not in her behaviour, certainly in the circumstances she presented.
Ms Griffin had to cancel a later appointment made as she'd been disqualified from driving and couldn't get a lift. She didn't hear from the agency again until a letter arrived saying her benefit was being halved for not meeting obligations.
A spokesman said Work and Income staff went "out to their way" to help her but their hands were tied.
I'm getting a bit sick of these hard luck stories. Here's a 39 year-old woman still living in a state of chaos; getting pregnant to a drug addict, with an estranged son, a recent driving disqualifiction (incurred while pregnant?), and who'd have guessed it - wants to be a social worker. I'm no angel, a delayed maturer in the responsibility stakes. But for goodness sake, this woman needs to get her act together.
As a supporter of the welfare reforms, I'm not going to be made to feel somehow guilty for whatever difficulty she now finds herself in.
(NB There isn't enough information in this report to properly ascertain why her benefit was cut.)