Pressure on for mum of three to find a job

Craig and Carla Bradley, with their sons, from left, Alex, Cane and Jayden, now have the added stress of job hunting for Mrs Bradley. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Craig and Carla Bradley, with their sons, from left, Alex, Cane and Jayden, now have the added stress of job hunting for Mrs Bradley. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Three children under 5 and a sick husband didn't save Carla Bradley from being told to prepare for work.

Mrs Bradley and her husband, Craig, have been through a nightmare since they first featured in the Herald in February last year in a series on the growing gap between Auckland's rich and poor.

Mr Bradley, 52, had worked hard all his life. At that time he earned $20 an hour delivering office furniture 40 hours a week. He also had a casual job milking cows for a Clevedon farmer twice a day on Saturdays and Sundays, and did casual fencing and haymaking for another farmer.

Although he had suffered some angina recently, he hadn't been to a doctor for decades.

Just a month later, his heart problems suddenly worsened and he had to go onto a sickness benefit.

The couple's three sons are still all under 5: Cane will be 5 in October, Jayden is 2 and Alex is 19 months. Another baby tragically miscarried two months ago.

The family has gradually recovered financially. Mrs Bradley works variable hours averaging about five a week as a teacher aide and has just started a second job 20 hours a week demonstrating a vacuum cleaner and air filtration system at nights, when her husband can look after the children.

As his health has improved, Mr Bradley has also started a job as a part-time driver and handyman for the Kids Count early learning centre which Cane attends. He hopes to become fulltime this month, but has had to go back on a benefit recently because of an operation on his hand.

While they were still in recovery mode, Mrs Bradley was surprised to receive a letter from Work and Income saying she had to prepare for fulltime work - an obligation imposed on beneficiaries' partners, as well as on sole parents with children under 5, since last October.

"They sent me a letter saying I have to find a fulltime job," she says. "It's a bit hard for me to find a fulltime job with the boys being so young."

The couple's fluctuating income also created a bureaucratic mixup with their Working for Families tax credits when they reunited in February after a five-month separation.

"Work and Income was paying Craig and Inland Revenue was paying me," she says. "It took them more than a month of me ringing two or three times a week to find out why we hadn't got a payment for more than a month. They said it was too late by that time so they only paid us two payments. We missed out on two weeks."

A Work and Income spokesman says the agency has no record of advising Mrs Bradley to look for fulltime work.

"Mrs Bradley has work preparation obligations, meaning that she needs to take steps to prepare and return to fulltime employment," he says.

"Regarding the family tax credits, Mrs Bradley phoned Work and Income on April 8 requesting that Work and Income stop paying the credits and have them paid through Inland Revenue. Any assertion that Work and Income is at fault with the delay in tax credits is inaccurate."

- NZ Herald

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