Young Denied Help As Bennett Clamps Down On Eligibility
26 April 2013 MEDIA STATEMENT
Young People Denied Help As Bennett Clamps Down On Eligibility
Paula Bennett’s claims there has been a drop in the number of young New Zealanders on benefits may be correct, but it’s not for the reasons she is suggesting, Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Jacinda Ardern.
“Ms Bennett has released figures showing the number of young people receiving youth or young parent payments has fallen.
“That may be the case, but it’s not because of the ‘success’ of her welfare reforms. Rather it’s because the Government is screwing down on already strict eligibility criteria for under 18 year olds.
“To be eligible for the youth payment (previously the independent youth benefit) a young person must demonstrate that they are in ‘exceptional circumstances’, often meaning they cannot live at home due to family breakdown, violence, or even gang related issues.
“Cases where young people have been assessed as being eligible for a youth payment but been denied it by Work and Income are becoming more common.
“In fact, contractors who assess eligibility, along with frontline youth workers, have significant concerns about vulnerable young people not getting the help and support they need under the new regime.
“In one case, where a young person was living with the constant threat of violence following a family breakdown, Work and Income ignored the recommendation of a trained assessor that the young person receive support.
“These are young people who are often in education or training, doing their best in extremely difficult situations. To deny them help when they need it most for the sake of some ‘positive’ statistics is ill-advised and callous.”