A New Plymouth solo mother is upset Work and Income will not pay for an item she sees as an essential need for her son.
Beneficiary Karen Lende wants reimbursement for a Freeview receiver because technology acts as therapy for 10-year-old autistic son Jai.
She had taken a receipt for the receiver into a Work and Income office but was told she was not eligible for assistance.
A Work and Income spokesman said it was not Work and Income's policy to reimburse costs.
"Bringing in a receipt demonstrates the client has been able to meet the cost."
He said assistance with the cost of converting to digital television was reserved for people in extreme hardship.
"There has to be no other way for them to pay."
If buying the Freeview box meant Ms Lende was unable to buy food, that was a different matter, he said.
Ms Lende said keeping her son occupied without technological devices was stressful. "We've just been outside in the sun playing backgammon for about two hours, then he starts saying, ‘YouTube, YouTube'.
"It's a big part of his world."
Watching television allowed Jai to chill out and have downtime, she said. "He loves the family movies at night and we sit down and watch them together. For him that's time together."
The Ministry for Culture and Heritage provides a targeted assistance package which is aimed at groups most likely to face the greatest financial and technical barriers in going digital.
Jai does not meet the criteria for the targeted assistance.
In some circumstances Work and Income may pay a recoverable assistance payment for television-related costs.
Examples include where the TV prevents harm to a person with a medical condition, such as a sole carer who needs to occupy a child with a disability. This payment must be repaid and is only granted when there is no other way for the client to meet the cost.
The Work and Income spokesman encouraged anyone to make contact to discuss their circumstances.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Should ratepayers fork out for increased security to keep vandals at bay in Pukekura Park?Related story: Cameras set to catch vandals