Incomes have grown significantly for people on Main Benefit, report shows

Social Development and Employment

A report released today by the Ministry of Social Development shows that for those receiving a Main Benefit, total incomes after housing costs are 48 percent higher than at the end of 2017 after adjusting for inflation.

“The Government’s focus continues to be on the cost of living and easing the pressure on families. This report underlines that our approach is working and shows that we’ve made huge improvements in lifting incomes for low-income people and whānau across Aotearoa New Zealand,” Minister for Social Development and Employment Carmel Sepuloni said.

“Since coming into Government, we’ve continued to take tangible steps towards making our welfare system fairer so that people and families on benefits don’t fall further and further behind.

“Our Government’s Families Package, Benefit increases and changes to Working for Families are making a vital difference in the lives of many low-income people and whānau.  But it’s not just incomes which are rising, our investment in front-line case management has seen record numbers of people move off Benefit into work.  This has been helped by a similar increase to Minimum wage over this time to ensure our lowest paid New Zealanders are not falling further behind.

“In Budget 2019, we announced that we would index main benefit increases to the average wage, rather than the Consumer Price Index (CPI).  Main Benefits are generally adjusted in line with wage growth, however, we knew a different approach was needed this year which is why we increased Main Benefits and Superannuation by the CPI.

“The Government’s strong economic management saw us come through COVID-19 better than the Global Financial Crisis. With unemployment close to record lows and incomes growing at the highest rates since records began, there are more opportunities and incentives to work.

“The report also shows severe weather events have contributed to a small temporary increase in incomes for people in affected regions where Civil Defence Payments were made available to meet the immediate needs of people affected by the weather emergencies.

There are also more people accessing other assistance such as Temporary Additional Support (TAS) over the past year, especially families with children. We know New Zealanders are doing it tough right now, and our Government will continue investing in supporting them through this.

“We know there is more to do, but reports such as this show we’re on the right track and we are making progress,” says Carmel Sepuloni.