Beneficiary Advisory Service Pleased by Goverment Direction
Pleased with Direction
“We are very pleased to see the new Government intends to scrap the 70A deduction which cuts the benefit of people refusing or unable to name the other parent,” says Rebecca Occleston speaker for Beneficiary Advisory Service, Christchurch. “This change can’t come soon enough, as we have seen many people victimised over the years from this policy.”
Tens of thousands of beneficiaries each year have deductions on their benefits for not naming the other parent of their child. “But why would women not name the child’s father unless there was a legitimate reason?” Rebecca argues.
“We have had clients who were in fear of violence or who just didn’t have enough information to identify the child’s father,” Rebecca continues. “These are both some of the exemptions within the law which we were able to have recognised and sanctions stopped,” she says. “However, for many people who don’t know their rights or are afraid to tell people the truth for fear of being judged or because of possible recriminations, they may still be struggling with a reduced benefit. Benefit levels are so low that most people struggle to survive on them anyway. Having another $20-30/week taken away on top of that can be disastrous” she laments. “As the Minister of Social Welfare herself has stated, these exemptions are being inconsistently applied and there is no evidence to support the idea that this met the original purpose,” states Rebecca.
“Some of those against this change are trying to get bogged down in tangential issues not related to benefit payments. This is a distraction from the real issue here: which is that single parents are being penalised when they are just trying to support their children in the best way possible,” says Rebecca. “This was never the right solution to trying to get more child support; it just contributes to child poverty,” she continues. “Children and their rights need to be protected and we are pleased to see this moves towards that goal,” Rebecca concludes.
Rebecca Occleston is the Speaker for Beneficiary Advisory Service (BAS)
BAS is a Christchurch based Community Group; an independent organisation specialising in the benefit system and low-income Issues. BAS provide FREE advice, information, support and advocacy to hundreds of people every year. We can be found at Christchurch Community House, contacted on 03 379 8787 and firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at bas.org.nz or find us on facebook: @BeneficiaryAdvisoryService