Simon Collins

Simon Collins is the Herald’s social issues reporter.

Harsher welfare rules net solo dad with four kids

Jared Chase with his children, son Haylen, 10, and 9-year-old triplets Kaila, Marama and Pania. Photo / Dean Purcell
Jared Chase with his children, son Haylen, 10, and 9-year-old triplets Kaila, Marama and Pania. Photo / Dean Purcell

Even being the sole carer for triplets can't excuse Jared Chase from work obligations under the new welfare regime.

Mr Chase, 40, worked all his life until his wife walked out in 2007. He did 15 years with a lawnmower business in Albany, then worked in an electrical business with his dad and then as a shearer in Taupo and Queensland.

"I'd love to be out there in a job; I'd rather be doing that than what I'm doing," he says.

He met a partner in Australia and had a son, now 10, and triplet girls, now 9. The family came home to see relatives, and stayed. Mr Chase worked at Independent Liquor in Papakura, but quit when his wife left.

"My partner took off and left me alone with the kids," he says.

He worked in cornfields at Pukekohe last year, but had to quit again when the children got sick.

Under new rules that took effect last October, he has had to look for part-time work of at least 15 hours a week since the triplets turned 5. The way Work and Income staff interpret it, the obligation is even stronger.

"They will tell me you can get a 40-hour job and the kids can go into after-school care," he says.

"But especially with the three kids the same age, it's not easy."

Work and Income says he has received four hardship payments since November, including two food grants in March and April, but he says he has been turned down for more food grants recently.

His benefit has been cut twice because he missed work seminars.

"Seminars were scheduled for 2pm, I have to be here [at school] to pick up the kids at 2.30pm," he says.

"I have to phone the call centre to cancel. You can't cancel. They cancel the benefit. I have to go and have a one-on-one with the case manager to get it back on."

The agency has rescheduled seminars for 9am. Work and Income says he missed 15 out of 19 work seminars he was supposed to attend in the past year. It says it halved his benefit twice but each time he recomplied and his benefit resumed within a fortnight.

- NZ Herald

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