The Ministry of Social Development is apologising for not responding to a struggling couple's plea for extra assistance earlier.

Grant Lovatt, a man battling crippling motor neurone disease and his wife, Glenda, who provides full-time care to her terminal husband, told their story to the Herald this month.

The South Auckland couple, both unable to work, were living off less than $500 a week from the Government and struggling to stay afloat.

Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni told the Herald she had asked her ministry for urgent advice on the case.


That was more than three weeks ago and the Lovatts hadn't heard a peep until Wednesday, the day after the Herald followed up.

It was then Glenda had a meeting with Work and Income and was told the Government would provide extra assistance for car repairs, food assistance and doctors' fees.

Mark Goldsmith, Auckland regional commissioner for Ministry of Social Development (MSD), said the ministry acknowledged Glenda and Grant should have been contacted earlier.

"We apologise that this did not happen. We have provided Glenda with a single point of contact at our Westgate Community Link, so she can call directly to avoid any future delays in receiving assistance, " Goldsmith said.

He said one of the ministry's roles was to ensure income assistance and services were provided to the people that needed it.

"We work hard to ensure fairness for people and make sure everyone who comes to us receives their full and correct entitlement.

"We want to keep supporting the Lovatts as we're able to and will ensure this continues happening as long as they need our assistance and support," Goldsmith said.

Glenda Lovatt said she was pleased the Government had finally responded to their request but there was still an underlying wider issue that needed to be addressed.


"Spouses providing full-time care for their terminally ill partners' do not get funding and that policy needs to change."

"There are many families like us, who have been forced to give up well-paid jobs due to sickness, who are struggling and that issue needs addressing."

At current, the Ministry of Health does not pay spouses who care for disabled partners at home.

Minister of Health David Clark has asked officals for advise on the current policy and said it was being considered.