A Blenheim single mother of three finds she is only $34 better off working. She says, "When you weigh it up, is it worth going to work? The Government is trying to get everyone off the benefit but there is no incentive to work."

The incentive lies in being self-supporting, in joining the workforce that creates the productivity and taxes to pay for, among other things, benefits for those who genuinely can't support themselves.

"There is that stigma attached to being on the benefit and many believe that you are just a bludger," she adds. Only if you can work and refuse to.

In any case, she goes on to answer her own question: "I love my job. It makes me feel rewarded."

Advertisement

Time for a reality check. Because of the accommodation supplement and family tax credits, the gap between benefit income and income from work is very small (and will get smaller from April this year when parents with dependent children get a $25 benefit rise). Moving into work may provide little financial gain initially. But the individual's sense of well-being and future prospects are improved.

In this instance the ex-beneficiary has already identified that. Good for her.

• Lindsay Mitchell blogs on welfare issues at http://lindsaymitchell.blogspot.co.nz