Sole parents at risk of having no income

New requirements for sole parents to undertake a reapplication process after a year is likely to mean a large number will face benefit cancellations, but not because they have obtained work, Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni says.

“Increasing numbers of job seekers going through this process are having their benefits cancelled because of the complexity of the paperwork, not because they found jobs.

“The implications for sole parents having their benefits cut for the same reason are much greater given there are children involved.

“Losing any income when you are already living in poverty only increases hardship. Putting more barriers in place for sole parents is also putting vulnerable children at risk.

“Anne Tolley has confirmed the Government does not record or track who goes into work after having a benefit cancelled. If that is the case there is no way of knowing how many sole parents may be left without any income if they fail to complete their reapplication process.

“Ms Tolley has also stated National’s ‘goal is to help beneficiaries achieve independence, not necessarily to help them into employment, as employment was not the only way to achieve financial independence’.

“This Government is not focussed on getting people in to jobs, just getting them off their books.

“She has also said the Ministry of Social Development is doing everything it can to make the process easy, including putting forms online. That is hardly going to help those parents for whom internet access and computer literacy may be a problem.

“Many single mums and dads already work part time to help supplement their income. To cut them loose for not filling in an application form correctly is petty and opportunistic. It might make the stats look better, but it does nothing to improve their and their children’s lives,” Carmel Sepuloni says.