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Beneficiary saves the tax payer $400,000

Poverty Action Waikato

September 22 2011

Beneficiary saves the tax payer $400,000

“Single parents who receive government benefits not only make a significant
contribution to our society in parenting their children, but their other
often unrecognised work can save hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax
payer money” says Tony Westbrook, Kaitiaki member, Poverty Action Waikato.

The woman profiled in the recent Waikato Times front page article as
Waikato’s longest claiming beneficiary has been caring for her sick, elderly
mother for the last 10 years. Brent Selwyn, a specialist in elderly services
and seniors law states that it costs between $40,000 and $42,000 per annum
to keep a person in senior care. According to these figures, the work of the
woman in this article has saved the taxpayer around $400,000 in senior care

“Parenting, along with caring for the sick and elderly is essential work and
it needs to be recognised, valued and supported by all of us and by our
economic system” says Anna Cox, Researcher, Poverty Action Waikato.

In May 2011 a Waikato Times front page article ‘Count down for a job’
outlined how 1000 hopefuls queued for hours competing for 140 Hamilton
supermarket jobs.

“It is simply misleading to suggest that many beneficiaries chose to remain
unemployed when there is such extreme competition for the paid work that is
available. A lack of paid employment opportunities is currently the most
significant cause of people remaining on a benefit, and it is getting worse”
Westbrook says.

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Figures from the Department of Labour show that the unemployment rate in
Waikato increased by 0.8% - from 5.9% in the year to June 2010 to 6.7% for
the year to June 2011. The national average for unemployment was 6.6% in
June 2011.

“There is a real danger in not carrying out a full analysis of an issue, or
situation, as hidden benefits that are significant to the country can be
overlooked. Individuals creating savings worth hundreds of thousands of
dollars to the country can be unfairly vilified when they are actually
fulfilling a very valuable role” he says.

Poverty Action Waikato, together with Link House and Birthright Waikato will
be holding a pre-election forum on October 28th where election candidates
will get to listen to the experiences and realities of single parents and
discuss how government policies can better support their valuable parenting


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