New Zealand’s welfare system is changing to help people able to work to get ready for employment and into a job. The focus is on what people can do to achieve a better future for themselves and their family.
The reforms adopt an investment approach, targeting our resources to those groups we know are at most risk of long-term benefit dependence and yet have the potential to find work and to support themselves and their families.
There are changes to how the benefit system is structured and a number of new obligations and requirements will be introduced from 15 July 2013, however the payment rates and any extra assistance that beneficiaries receive are not changing.
Three new benefits
Most current benefits are being replaced by three new benefits. People on the following benefits will automatically transfer to a new benefit on 15 July 2013.
People currently on:
- Unemployment Benefit
- Sickness Benefit
- Domestic Purposes Benefit – Women Alone
- Domestic Purposes Benefit – Sole Parent if youngest child is aged 14 and over
- Widow’s Benefit – without children, or if youngest child is aged 14 and over
move to Jobseeker Support
This benefit is for people who can usually work full-time.
It also includes people who can only work part-time or can’t look for work at the moment, for example because they have a health condition, injury or disability.
If a person currently does not have work obligations this will continue until their situation changes. For example, people on the Sickness Benefit currently who are unable to work will not need to look for a job when transferred to Jobseeker Support until their ability to work changes.
People currently on:
- Domestic Purposes Benefit – Sole Parent if youngest child is aged under 14
- Widow’s Benefit – if youngest child is aged under 14
move to Sole Parent Support
This payment is for sole parents caring for children under the age of 14 who can look or prepare for part-time work.
People currently on:
- Invalid’s Benefit
- Domestic Purposes Benefit – Care of Sick or Infirm
move to Supported Living Payment
This benefit is for people who are severely restricted or unable to work on a long-term basis because of a health condition or disability, and for people who are caring for someone who needs significant care.
Benefits which don’t change
Benefits that remain include: Emergency Benefit, Emergency Maintenance Allowance, Orphan’s Benefit, Unsupported Child’s Benefit, Youth Payment and Young Parent Payment. Some of the new obligations apply to people on these continuing benefits.
To continue receiving a benefit, people will need to meet a number of new obligations and requirements from 15 July 2013. These include:
- beneficiaries telling us about their overseas travel before they leave New Zealand, because if they don’t their benefit will stop automatically from the day after they leave
- parents accessing health and education services for their children
- taking and passing a drug test if required by a potential employer or as part of a training course (only for people with work obligations)
- clearing arrest warrants (the Ministry of Justice is responsible for issuing and clearing warrants).
More information on these obligations :
Changes for people on Invalid’s Benefit – July 2013 (PDF; 290 KB)
Welfare Reform changes – overview-July 2013 (PDF; 241 KB)
Supporting disabled people and people with health conditions
From 15 July 2013 we’re introducing changes to the way we work with and support disabled people and people with health conditions to assist more who can work into work. Alongside this, we’ll maintain our support for people unable to work.
These changes recognise the growing international evidence that work is good for health and wellbeing, and that long-term unemployment is detrimental for individuals and their families.
Our aim is to better recognise which Work and Income clients with a health condition or a disability can work, and what support they might need to find and stay in work.
New Zealand Superannuation and Veteran’s Pension
Apart from the need to clear arrest warrants with the Ministry of Justice, the changes being introduced don’t affect people getting New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran’s Pension.
Keeping beneficiaries informed
All beneficiaries affected are being sent a letter and brochure outlining the changes for them. Because of the very large number of people affected (over 350,000), letters have been sent over an eight week period in May and June so we’re better able to respond to any questions people might have.
We know that some of the people you work with will be affected by the changes and may have questions. We have attached a general overview of the changes, and overviews as they specifically affect people currently on Sickness and Invalid’s Benefit. This information may be useful to you to help with their questions, or alternatively there is more information on the website below.
Visit www.workandincome.govt.nz, and follow the link on the front page, or call us on 0800 559 244.
Source: Work and Income