Benefit income up 40% compared to 2018 – Ministry of Social Development report

Beneficiary incomes have increased by 43% since 2018, according to a report by the Ministry of Social Development. Photo/NZME

Benefit income levels have risen by more than 40% since 2018 after inflation and housing costs, according to a report that the government is showing is “improving living standards” for the most vulnerable.

Still, the Green Party says that with record levels of need now, it highlights how small the benefits were to begin with.

The report from the Department of Social Development takes into account inflation data up to March 2022 and shows a 43% increase in income after housing costs have been deducted.

After adjusting for the most recent changes in inflation, the increase amounts to 40%.

The total income of families receiving a main benefit has increased by an average of $60 per week over the past year.

Although average incomes have risen across all family types over the past year, the largest increases have generally been among families with children, reflecting policy changes, particularly regarding key benefit rates. .

“These income increases are the result of policy decisions we made while in government to improve the standard of living for New Zealanders on benefits,” said Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni.

“Total incomes have grown at a faster rate than inflation and we will continue to work with our families to ensure they are aware of the services available to them.”

Green Party spokesman for social development, Ricardo Menéndez March, said it was clear from this data how low incomes were before 2018, given that there were “quite substantial real increases , but that there is still a gap to be filled in order to meet basic needs”.

A major report released in March by advocacy group Fairer Futures found that a New Zealand family on a benefit needed around $165 more a week just to get by – even after wage increases began. ‘april.

And once the cost of attending the company was factored in, they were up to $300 a week short.

“We urge the government to take urgent action to ensure people’s basic incomes allow people to fully participate in their communities,” Menéndez March said.

“Families shouldn’t have to rely on hardship grants or complex top-ups to make ends meet.”

The report also highlighted the difference between social housing assistance and benefit recipients.

People living in emergency/transitional housing usually had to
pay a contribution of 25 percent of their income, while those in the recipient market receiving the housing supplement generally spend half their income on housing.

About 2% of those supported by a main benefit were in emergency/transitional accommodation, 13% in social housing and 64% were receiving the housing supplement.

Menéndez March said this showed the need for better housing solutions, including more social housing.

“There is a clear gap in income after the cost of housing for people living in private versus public housing, and so the government needs to invest more resources to build enough public housing so that tenants don’t pay more than 25% of their weekly income in rent.

There was also a bias towards supporting families over single people on the main benefit, the majority of whom had a health condition or disability that affected their ability to work.

For those on these benefits who are single, their total post-housing income is $201.

“They are being left behind by basic benefits that are not enough to make ends meet and a severe lack of affordable and accessible housing,” Menéndez March said.

At the end of April 2022, around 378,000 adults were receiving a means-tested main benefit, representing around 12% of the entire working-age population.

Many people receiving a main benefit have dependent children – with 214,000 children (end of April), or about 19% of all children, living in families supported by a benefit.

Joel C. Hicks