Teens testing system

Teenagers among the first "guinea pigs" for a new money management system for welfare say they are getting more than they need for food but not enough for transport, baby supplies and medical costs.

The new system, affecting about 1500 teens aged between 16 and 17 and 1850 teen parents aged between 16 and 18, pays only $50 a week in cash, with the rest either paid directly to landlords and creditors or loaded on to a green payment card for designated food stores.

Teenagers are being moved on to it gradually after an official start on August 20.

The Social Development Ministry said 529 teens without children and 559 teen parents were on the system by last Friday, with the rest due by December.

However, already Billie-May Graham (18) of Onehunga, is frustrated that her payment card is restricted to food stores and does not cover clothes and other needs for her baby son Ryder (8 weeks).

"Being a solo mum, there are so many things you have to buy that won't be at the supermarket," she said.

Although she can buy nappies at a supermarket, they were "much cheaper" at Nappies For Less, which is not an approved supplier.

"What if I have to go to the doctor some weeks?" she asked.

"What about my clothes?"

Manukau Urban Maori Authority social worker Kylie Urwin said she picked up teen parents in a van from all over South Auckland three days a week to attend courses at Manukau Institute of Technology because they could not afford bus fares.

In Morningside, a 17-year-old who rooms alone in a lodge, Caelif Bishop, said the new system gave him more on his payment card than he needed for food, but not enough in cash for bus fares.

"But the system is also giving us a push to get jobs so there are good and bad sides of it."


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