Beneficiary told mum's aid wrong

HELEN HARVEY
Last updated 05:00 14/11/2011
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Selena Vesely has been told her benefit will be cut unless her mother stops helping her out.
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Beneficiary Selena Vesely is being pinged by Winz for extra money she gets from her mum. Is that fair?

Yes, that's an abuse of my taxpayer-funded support

No, her family should be able to help her do more than survive

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A struggling single mother has been told her benefit will be docked unless her mother stops helping her out.

Two weeks ago, Selena Vesely featured in the Taranaki Daily News, discussing how difficult it was to make ends meet on a benefit.

In the story she told how her mother gave her money every two weeks and occasionally paid other bills for her.

Last week she was summoned by Winz to explain.

Ms Vesely had to sign a declaration saying she wouldn't take any more fortnightly payments from her mother, otherwise she faced having her benefit cut.

"I didn't expect that. I was shocked to learn that I would be punished just for trying to survive. Paying those on benefits the amount they do is guaranteeing that [beneficiaries] stay on the poverty line."

As well as giving her cash, her mother pays for Ms Vesely's two children's bus fare to school and also buys them clothes.

While this isn't cash, it still counts as income, she said.

"Because they consider it goods and services paid for."

Regional Commissioner for Social Development Gloria Campbell said: "Anyone applying or receiving income-tested benefit assistance is required to declare income from all sources.

"This includes regular payments or support received for essential living costs."

Ms Vesely can receive income from her family, Mrs Campbell said.

"That's not under debate. But that income has to be declared to us, because it has an impact on how we abate her benefit ... We were not aware of that information."

Beneficiaries who receive regular "provisions of essential living costs" have to declare it to Winz.

This could be cash or having groceries bought for them, or bills – such as power, insurance or HPs – regularly paid for.

The key word is "regular", Mrs Campbell said.

Ms Vesely is worried she will struggle to pay her bills when the money her mum gives stops.

Her case worker told her to get a job, she said.

"It's all right for them to say get a job from the other side of a desk."

Ms Vesely has sleep apnoea, so falls asleep during the day, but is having surgery next month to fix that. Also, in December she will finish her study at Witt and has started looking for a job.

"But it is hard when there is such a lack of jobs out there," she said.

To read the feature on Selena Vesely titled Poverty's grim reality click here

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Does Winz have the right to stop Ms Vesely receiving money from her mother? Comment Below.

- Taranaki Daily News

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