18 Jun 2015

Counselling service hits back at claims

11:24 am on 18 June 2015

Relationships Aotearoa has hit back at Social Development Minister Anne Tolley's claims it may have charged for more clients than were on its books.

The country's oldest counselling service was forced to close earlier this month, after funding negotiations with the Government broke down.

National MP, Anne Tolley.

National MP, Anne Tolley. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley yesterday said liquidators were looking into discrepancies in numbers of clients and staff at Relationships Aotearoa.

But the service's former strategic adviser, Cary Hayward, told Radio New Zealand the criticism was unfounded.

"We definitely have not fudged our client numbers. Our clients are recorded using a reputable, computerised, client management system and all of our client referrals go through that system, and all of our appointments and reports are taken from that system."

Only 4500 of Relationships Aotearoa's 7000 clients were Ministry of Social Development clients, Mr Hayward said.

A large proportion had chosen not to transfer to another service since Relationships Aotearoa closed down, he said.

Ms Tolley said Relationship Aotearoa's records were a mess.

"There's a large amount of taxpayer money that's gone into this organisation, and that was to fund services to a certain number of clients, and there doesn't seem to be that number of clients that they were talking about," she said.

"But it's still early days and we're waiting on the information from the liquidators."