Earning less by being in work

The Press reports:

Christchurch woman , 29, quit her job in a flood of tears after three months.

As a single parent looking after her four-year-old son Riley, she gets $357 a week on the domestic purposes benefit (DPB), with some bills being paid by Work and Income.

Struggling to make ends meet, she took a part-time job as a laboratory assistant at Canterbury University in January.

After advice from a Work and Income case worker, Quy believed she would be better off by $100 per week.

However, her part-benefit, part-wage income left her $10 a week worse off.

After the Government changes were announced yesterday, Quy said she was scared she would fall back into debt.

“It doesn’t make sense, working but not earning money,” she said.

“It’s like the Government is punishing us.

I feel very sorry for Ms Quy, as no one should end up worse off by going into work. One of the changes announced yesterday will help a bit, by increasing the threshold before your benefit rebates from $80 a week to$100 a week.

In theory it should be near impossible to be worse off, by taking up work. There are high abatement rates on the main benefit and sometimes the accommodation supplement, but income from Working for Families should not decrease if you replace benefit income with work income – in fact the in work payment should make you better off.

It would have been useful if The Press had asked for and/or printed the details of how much the job she moved to was paying, because this would have allowed verification of the figures. By this I don’t mean that Ms Quy is misrepresenting them – more that she may be missing out on something she is eligible for – such as WFF.

Its frustrating that the story doesn’t detail why the combined income is $100 a week less than what estimated. Were wrong, or is some benefit not being fully claimed?

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