Carer grans: officials told to use nous

BEN HEATHER SOCIAL ISSUES
Last updated 05:00 26/07/2013

Share your news and views

Share your stories, photos and videos.

Relevant offers

Politics

John Key wants to put the brakes on Kevin Rudd in UN race Calls grow for a return to the days when we were paid to recycle John Key: Don't write Helen Clark off yet, after UN polling Labour MP Trevor Mallard vacates Hutt South electorate to apply for Speaker position Corrections failing Maori, needs drastic culture change - claim Labour leader Andrew Little's New Plymouth billboard defaced by vandals Nick Smith reveals he gargled paint stripper as mouthwash Reserve Bank mandate no longer cutting it - Labour Foreign Minister Murray McCully contracted Zika Veteran Taranaki regional councillor will not contest seat in upcoming election

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says it is ridiculous that soon-to-be-retired carers are being told to work under the new welfare regime.

Ms Bennett met Work and Income staff yesterday after reports that grandparents caring for their grandchildren were being asked to get back to work, sometimes just months from retirement.

"It was certainly not my expectation that people only six months away from retirement or who had children that had a special need . . . would be work-tested."

She had reinforced to staff that beneficiaries should be exempted from work obligations if factors such as age, location, transport or health made it clearly impractical. "I expect staff to use common sense."

She resisted calls for a separate benefit for grandparent carers, claiming their circumstances varied and some were able, and willing, to work.

Yesterday's Dominion Post revealed that grandparents who had given up jobs to care for children who would otherwise be under Child, Youth and Family care were being asked to get back to work.

Labour says the grandparent carers are only the first of many groups that will be unfairly caught out by the latest round of welfare reforms.

Its social development spokeswoman, Jacinda Ardern, said demanding that grandparents caring for often traumatised children find work or face sanctions "defied common sense".

"The majority are single grandmothers, aged over 55 and already struggling on low incomes," she said. "To lump them into the same category as a fit, 22-year-old job seeker, and force them to look for work when they are already doing one of the most undervalued jobs, is completely unreasonable."

However, grandparents were only the "tip of the iceberg" in a system that lumped 128,000 different beneficiaries into one category focused on finding work, she said.

"That is the issue with a broad-brush benefit. We will see more cases with people that have been unfairly lumped in as jobseekers."

Welfare changes introduced on July 15 have created an obligations for more than 120,000 beneficiaries to look for work or face cuts in payments. The new category is known as Jobseeker Support.

Ad Feedback

- The Dominion Post

Special offers
Opinion poll

Should the speed limit be raised to 110kmh on some roads?

Yes

No

Vote Result

Related story: 110kmh limit moves closer

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content