Government extends hardship assistance for low income workers

Income limits for Hardship Support through the Ministry of Social Development have been temporarily lifted so more people can recieve assistance.

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

“Expanding the income limits for Hardship Support will mean more low income individuals and families will be able to get support.

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

“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,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

The Government has already bolstered support for those affected by the Delta outbreak with more than $38 million allocated to support community organisations responding to needs in the community. 

Editors notes

Special Needs Grant and Advance Payment of Benefit gross weekly income limits
Family circumstances Current gross weekly income limit New 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 circumstances Current gross annual income limit New 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.