Blenheim mother of three

Stuff posted an article this morning on Blenheim mother-of-three struggling to survive since coming off the benefit.

There’s been a lot of comment and some corrections.

A low wage worker says there is no incentive to get off the benefit.

A number of people pointed out that wanting to earn a living and be self-sufficient is a good incentive to get off the benefit.

A struggling solo mum in Blenheim is only $34 better off a week since she came off the benefit and got a job.

The 48-year-old said Marlborough’s low wage economy meant it was harder for people to enter the workforce.

But this isn’t about being harder to enter the workforce, she asks…

“When you weigh it up, is it worth going to work?

If you weight it up on purely financial criteria then some more money with the prospects of quite a bit more is still worth it for many people.

The early childhood teacher, who worked 29 hours a week, earned $21.90 an hour, just more than the living wage set at $19.25.

There is no set living wage. The minimum wage is $14.75.

She received $580 a week when she was on benefits looking after her three dependent children aged 10, 15 and 17.

Her new job, which she also juggled with studying for a bachelor in early childhood education, paid $614 a week after her student fees were taken out.

And less if PAYE tax and ACC Earner Premium are taken out:

Gross pay: 635.10
PAYE: 92.30
ACC: 9.21
Student Loan: 32.17
Take home pay: 501.42

She missed qualifying for a working for family support benefit by one working hour.

But it’s been pointed out that that is incorrect. A comment at Stuff:

Based on the information supplied she qualifies for both the working for families tax credit weekly as well as the “In work tax credit”

– Copied and pasted from the IRD website = “In-work tax credit Paid to families with dependent children18 or younger who work the required hours each week”” “To get this payment, couples must work at least 30 hours a week between them, and single parents must work at least 20 hours a week.” – by working 29 hours she qualifies.

David Farrar works out how much that is at Kiwiblog:

According to the IRD calculator if she is working more than 20 hours a week she should receive $239 a week in family tax credits and $60 a week for in-work tax credits which is $299 a week on top of the $614 from her job.

No, I think it will be on top of her take home pay of 501.42, which comes to $800 per week.

“There is that stigma attached to being on the benefit and many believe that you are just a bludger,” she said.

If weighing up whether earning money is worth it then yes, that’s a risk.

“Children are my passion. I wanted to better myself and get a job in early childhood education.

“I was shocked I was only $34 better off a week. I thought I would be $100 better off. That’s huge when you are only earning $600 a week.

“We make do with what we have got. My children don’t go without. We don’t eat the flashest of foods but they get fresh fruit and vegetables.

“I am too proud to ask for help. It’s really hard to say I don’t have any money.”

Except that she has apparently volunteered her story to a journalist.

“We don’t have many treats. We are lucky if we have a takeaway every three months. It’s not part of our budget.

“It’s quite depressing, you just have to deal with it.

“The kids pick up on it. They are sick of being poor and having no money.”

Striving to work and earn money for yourself is something kids can pick up on too. If the seventeen year old is sick of being poor they could at least try to find holiday work. Many seventeen year olds earn money for themselves.

She would not give up her job to go back on the benefit.

“I love my job. It makes me feel rewarded.”

So why does she ask if it is worth it?

It’s hard to work out what the motive for this story is.

I hope she considers checking out her eligibility for family tax credits and in work tax credits.

And I hope the journalist who wrote this checks things out a bit better.

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  1. Pantsdownbrown

     /  25th January 2016

    If anything this article shows just how generous this country is with its benefit system.

  2. The point of the story is obvious Pete G. Its about pushing the ongoing BS inequality meme AGAIN. Its just another we need a LIVING Wage [cue right on shout from the audience] meme story. The campaign continues….

    She is working, supporting herself and the kids. Contributing back into society via the work she does and by paying taxes that can be used to support those who are genuinely in need. She should be proud not flogging a woe is me story to the papers.

    • Blazer

       /  26th January 2016

      could you live on $14.75 an hour?

      • Blazer I have lived on the minimum wage. Work in a poorly paid sequence of temping jobs after recovering from illness

        I cut my cloth to suit, had family help to minimise my costs – I live with my parent, didn’t drop coin on booze, holidays or any other luxuries and I upskilled myself into well paying jobs.

        The whole Living wage thing is BS, Blazer. If you’re on minimum wage your whole working life then there is something seriously amiss in your motivation and desire for a better life.

        • Blazer

           /  26th January 2016

          lucky sperm…good parents.

        • jamie

           /  26th January 2016

          “If you’re on minimum wage your whole working life then there is something seriously amiss in your motivation and desire for a better life.”

          So do you think everyone in a minimum wage job should upskill and get a better-paid job?

          How would that actually work with no-one left to do those jobs? Where are the (hundreds of thousands?) of higher paying jobs for all of those people to progress to? What happens to the people doing THOSE jobs now?

          If that’s not what you mean, then you have to accept that a large number of people ARE going to be on or near the minimum wage as long as those jobs need doing.

          • Jamie…. many people work for minimum wage at some stage. I did. It isn’t forever for most people.

            BUT some people are the second earner in a family and the extra income from a poorly paid minimum job is a bonus and not a career.

            People age and cycle through low paid to higher paid work as well.

            Some people don’t want any stress and stay in jobs that give no stress which don’t pay that well. That’s just life and their CHOICE.

            A large number of people maybe on a low wage at any given time – doesn’t mean its forever for everyone.

      • Pantsdownbrown

         /  26th January 2016

        You could for a short amount of time, hence why benefits are meant to be only temporary support/help whilst getting people back on their feet/ finding employment etc – not something to stay reliant on for years and years.

        • Blazer

           /  26th January 2016

          Business likes an unemploymewnt rate of around 5% to keep wages ‘competitive’…someone has to do the low skilled jobs that the economy relys on.


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