19 Feb 2009

Winz letter to solo mum 'appalling', says minister

7:12 am on 19 February 2009

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has described a letter from Work and Income to a single mother seeking financial help as "appalling and ill-advised".

The letter, released by the Labour Party in Parliament on Tuesday, was written by a Mangere-based case manager and, according to Labour deputy leader Annette King, suggests the solo mum pawn her cellphone and children's Play Station to cover arrears.

Ms Bennett, says she is working hard to ensure beneficiaries do not receive inappropriate financial advice from case workers on how to make ends meet.

Ms Bennett says she has sought assurances from the department that this type of letter would not be sent again.

She says the letter was appalling and ill-advised and not the type of advice a Work and Income case manager should be giving any beneficiary.

However, Work and Income said it did not advise the woman to pawn her cellphone and children's Play Station to help make ends meet.

Work and Income head Patricia Reade says the letter merely listed the actions the woman told the case manager she would take to live within her means.

Ms Reade admits the letter's wording is unfortunate, and says she has spoken to the manager.