Saturday, April 20, 2024

Hardship assistance extended for low income workers

Income limits for Hardship Support through the Ministry of Social Development have been temporarily lifted to allow more New Zealanders to access assistance.

“Cabinet has agreed to make it easier for low income workers to recieve assistance for items such as food and other emergency costs,” Social Development Minister, Carmel Sepuloni said.

“We know the extended COVID-19 restrictions are having an impact on low income households who tend to have less certainty of work. Currently a single person working 30 hours per week on the minimum wage is not eligible for hardship assistance from Work and Income. We’re lifting the income limits for assistance to 40 hours at the minimum wage, or $800 per week and $1600 per week for a couple with or without children.”

The Minister said that expanding the income limits for Hardship Support would mean more low income individuals and families would be able to get support.

“The temporary income eligibility criteria will come into force from 1 November for four months. 28 February 2022 will be the last day the increased limits will apply,” the Minister said.

“To ensure people who are not currently accessing support from MSD are aware of the availability of hardship assistance to meet immediate and essential needs, MSD will run a comprehensive communications campaign.

“This is an investment of $9.6 million into low income workers. We expect there to be up to 25,000 more grants made by MSD to people not currently receiving help from MSD, for needs such as food, clothing and additional costs for electricity.

“We are continuing to monitor need in the community and will respond quickly where it arises,” she said.

Special Needs Grant and Advance Payment of Benefit gross weekly income limits:

Family circumstancesCurrent gross weekly income limitNew gross weekly income limit[1]
Single, 16 – 17 years$514.41$640
Single, 18+ years$591.20$800
Married, civil union or de facto couple (with or without children)$858.72[2]$1600
Sole parent, 1 child$717.40$1100
Sole parent, 2+ children$755.82$1400

Table Two: Recoverable Assistance Payment gross annual income limits

Family circumstancesCurrent gross annual income limitNew annual income limit
Single, 16 – 17 years$26,749.32$33,280
Single, 18+ years$30,742.40$41,600
Married, civil union or de facto couple (with or without children)$44,653.44$83,200
Sole parent, 1 child$37,304.80$57,200
Sole parent, 2+ children$39,302.64$72,800

[1] The proposed income limit for a single person (18+ years) is based on working full time 40 hours per week on a minimum wage of $20 gross per hour. For a couple with children, this limit is doubled; and for a sole parent with one or two children, the limit is a midpoint between the single and couple rate. For a single person (16-17 years) the limit is based on a working full time 40 hours per week on the ‘starting-out’ minimum wage rate of $16 gross per hour.

[2] This current income limit means that a couple both working fulltime on the minimum wage would have to lose almost half of their gross weekly joint income to qualify for assistance.

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