Woman wins case against Ministry of Social Development over bank loans

In a landmark case, the High Court has ruled beneficiaries who borrow money from their families or the bank do not have to repay their benefit.

The court ruling on Tuesday comes after one mother's nine-year battle with the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) over whether she should be able to borrow while on a benefit.

Newshub can't identify the mother of two due to the deeply personal circumstances surrounding her case.

She's just found out she won't have to repay the Government more than a $100,000 of benefit money that it was demanding.

"This process has broken me on many levels," she says. "I've in most ways rebuilt myself but it's very painful to revisit."

The woman received the Domestic Purposes Benefit for solo parents from 2005 to 2010, but over that time she was also loaned money from the bank and her family.

The MSD argued she should have her benefit cut off because of those loans.

On Tuesday the High Court ruled MSD was wrong to classify bank loans and credit cards as income.

"It's made us ashamed to be vulnerable, and that's not right," the woman told Newshub.

The woman says beneficiaries shouldn't be punished for trying to help themselves, and she has a message for MSD.

"The very government body that is charged with supporting our most vulnerable citizens is wanting to punish them for trying to survive and get by," she says.

"We should be afforded the same rights as others. I haven't been on the benefit for a long time, and there's no way I'll be going back on no matter what. But it's okay for people to need help."

In a statement, the MSD said it would be studying the court's decision carefully and thoroughly and considering its response.

Meanwhile, the woman hopes her long fight for her rights and the rights of other beneficiaries won't be in vain.