'Unacceptable' Work & Income turned away homeless woman – Carmel Sepuloni

  • 28/04/2018

Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni says it's "unacceptable" that Work and Income staff turned away a homeless woman who was trying to apply for a benefit after being discharged from hospital.

A letter from Auckland DHB says the woman, in her 50s, wanted to apply for a benefit in order to find a place to live, but was told to come back in five days' time.

She was told there were no appointments available until then, and that she needed to provide identification and a bank account.

Newshub Nation was sent a copy of a letter from Auckland DHB appealing for help for the woman, who'd been treated for a serious medical condition.

"WINZ advised that they could not process her today as there were no appointments available and that they needed an understanding of her history re: how she has survived without income and shelter. As well as needing ID and bank account details".

"I think that's unacceptable," Ms Sepuloni told Newshub Nation.

"I would expect in those situations that if the person is not getting a response that is appropriate then the Ministry needs to be informed, I need to be informed, so that we can react."

The letter says the woman had been homeless for approximately 16 years, and had worked in seasonal jobs or asked people for money to survive.

It also says she has a birth certificate, but no bank account.

"I've told people on a number of occasions when they raise issues like this with me, make a complaint. I have no issue with people making a complaint because we need to know the extent of the damage that we're attempting to fix here," said Ms Sepuloni.

"I've met really good case managers across the country who are doing a fantastic job. Unfortunately the perception out there is more often than not the experience is negative, and we need to turn that around."

Newshub Nation.

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