'Left in the dust' - solo mum running her own cleaning business only just better off than on benefit

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A solo mother who's $36 a week better off working than being on a benefit says she's part of a middle class that are getting "left in the dust".

Marilyn runs her own business, but is only $36 better off a week than if she was collecting benefits.
Source: Seven Sharp

Marilyn de Bliquy's comment to Seven Sharp comes as how to support low-income working families becomes a major election issue.

Ms de Bliquy and her best friend set up a cleaning business called Queens Clean two years ago, staffed by themselves and other busy mothers.

"You're either dead broke or rich. There's no in between in that," Ms de Bliquy told Seven Sharp, saying she was talking to the programme to speak out for the middle ground.

"There's this middle class that are just getting left in the dust. It's just so hard to get ahead," she said.

She said during a "meltdown' to Inland Revenue, Ms de Bliquy had been told she'd be better off on the benefit.

With the help of a Salvation Army budgeting expert, the programme calculated that with her 22 hours a week work she's left with $7 after her basic expenses.

If she was on the sole parent benefit she wouldn't be able to pay her expenses.  She's $36 a week better off working than if she was on the benefit.

Both the major parties are promising a lift in support for low income workers such as Ms de Bliquy.

Under National's support she would pocket "up to" an extra $94 a week and under Labour "up to" an extra $100 a week.

The programme asked IRD if they typically encourage people to go back on the benefit.

The department said they don't give advice on "employment choices" but do refer to agencies which do.

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